Clinton: Take Economic Reins

President Clinton said Friday the world is facing the most serious economic challenge in 50 years.

He insisted a global recession isn't inevitable, but he added that the U.S. "cannot afford to dally around here."

The president reiterated that the United States must take the lead in restoring stability and growth to about half the world's economies, which he said are either in recession or posting poor growth results.

To underscore the need for action, Mr. Clinton proposed that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) set up a new fund to "ward off global financial contagion." And the president demanded that Congress do its part by providing necessary funding to the IMF.

Speaking a day before Group of Seven finance ministers and central bankers are due to hold a key meeting on the sidelines of the IMF gathering, Mr. Clinton said the United States needed to move more aggressively to lead the global economy. He warned that the world's top economy could not remain an "oasis of prosperity" forever.

Mr. Clinton said it was "inexcusable" for Congress to keep delaying on his long-standing call for some $18 billion in fresh U.S. funds for the cash-strapped IMF. "We need the money now," he said. The president added that he would address the IMF and World Bank gathering on Tuesday.

Mr. Clinton spoke at the White House just before leaving for a campaign fund-raising trip in Cleveland and Philadelphia.