Poland becomes second country to tap IMF credit line

Yesterday, given a spate of bad economic data, I wondered which country would be the next to tap the IMF's new flexible credit line.

Today, the answer: Poland.

The country has sought a precautionary $20.5 billion dollar loan, to help it meet large short-term financing needs. 

Poland hopes to adopt the euro currency in 2012; if taking the precautionary IMF loan demonstrates financial responsibility and helps keep the country's fundamentals sound, it should not disrupt that process. 

Update: The head of the IMF indicates the organization will meet the request. "Its economic fundamentals and policy framework are strong, and the Polish authorities have demonstrated a commitment to maintaining this solid record," Dominique Strauss-Kahn said


Forever rising China

Amid all the hype about China becoming the world's new superpower, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that people have been expecting this moment for a long time. A really, really long time.

Here's a passage from Barbara Tuchman's excellent biography of Joseph "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell, the U.S. general who tried in vain to prop up Chiang Kai-Shek and the nationalists:

America at this time [the early 1900s], newly directed toward Asia by the recent acqiusition of Hawaii and the Philippines, was dazzled by the vision of the opportunities for her enterprise and outlets for her commerce in the Far East. China seemed the area of America's future and took on vast importance. John Hay was credited with having said that whoever understands China holds the key to the world's politics for the next five centuries. "Our future history," declared President Theodore Roosevelt in 1905, "will be more determined by our position on the Pacific facing China than by our position on the Atlantic facing Europe."