US & Canada

International media cool on 'fiscal cliff' deal

U.S. President Barack Obama arrives at the lectern to deliver remarks after the House of Representatives acted on legislation intended to avoid the "fiscal cliff"
Image caption Mr Obama is seen as one of the winners, but not a "glorious" one

The US may have avoided the fiscal cliff, but media commentators around the world have been quick to remind Washington of the perilous state of the US economy.

Many portray the deal as a short-term fix which fails to address the country's ballooning public debt.

Criticism is also levelled at Washington for the political bickering which threatened to prevent an agreement.

However, there is acknowledgement that Mr Obama has scored a political victory in fulfilling his campaign pledge to increase taxes on the rich.


According to China's official news agency Xinhua, the US may have steered away from the cliff, but it now faces the "fiscal abyss" of its sovereign debt. The squabbling which preceded the agreement suggests that US politicians "are far less likely to reach a deal to help their country climb out of an abyss", it says.

A correspondent for Russia's state-run Rossiya 24 news channel paints a similar picture, saying any revenue increase from tax increases for the rich "will drown in the sea that is the monstrous US debt".

The editor-in-chief of the Russia in Global Affairs magazine, Fyodor Lukyanov, tells Ekho Moskvy radio that US politicians demonstrated their "outstanding abilities to ignore the opinion of everybody else".

With reference to a similar row in 2010 over the raising of the US debt ceiling, Lukyanov says the stark polarisation of opinion within the US Senate means that such wrangling is likely to be "repeated at regular intervals" in the future.

However, the website of Russia's privately-owned RBK Daily business newspaper describes the bill as a very rare "fruit of an inter-party compromise" in Washington, and the privately owned news website calls it "a triumph" for Mr Obama.

'Political theatre'

Similarly, Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung says that Mr Obama and Vice President Joe Biden "emerge as the winners from this debate", whose outcome is also advantageous for "the average American". "Millionaires and Tea Party radicals are the losers," it adds.

However, a commentary in the paper by Nicolas Richter says: "In view of the budget emergency, this law is once again merely a small success rather than the big one the country would really need.

"The US administration must get in more money and spend less, but neither of the two parties is prepared to explain that to the people."

Matthias Rueb in Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung says the fact that a compromise was only reached at the last minute "is certainly not a tragedy but the political theatre is damaging to the country externally as well as internally".

"People are increasingly morose and angry because the national leadership in Washington is unable to resolve the country's big problems," he says.

'Time bomb'

Noting that the US is on course to reach its debt ceiling next month, after which the "austerity time-bomb" will begin ticking again, Germany's Der Spiegel in English says that "we are... witnessing a superpower losing its way in a maze of details, propelled forward by grandstanding politicians".

"Towards a new crisis in two months' time" reads a headline on the website of France's Le Figaro, which believes that "the agreement endorsed by Congress only constitutes a temporary solution".

Lorraine Millot of French daily Liberation says in a blog post that "the compromise now adopted by Congress does not really resolve the fundamental problems but allows Barack Obama to have himself celebrated has the one who finally got the Republicans to 'crack' by forcing them to accept some tax increases for the richest of the rich".

She adds, however, that the episode "has not been particularly glorious for Obama, whose talents as a negotiator have once again been called into question" since Joe Biden was "called to the rescue".

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. For more reports from BBC Monitoring, click here. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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