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Economy is likely to bounce back quickly once COVID-19 subsides: Obama

All News 09:34 August 07, 2021

SEOUL, Aug. 7 (Yonhap) -- The American economy is likely to bounce back quickly once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, former U.S. President Barack Obama has said during an interview with a Korean media outlet.

"As soon as the public health situation improves ... I think the possibility of bouncing back more quickly rather than a long path toward economic recovery is more promising," Obama said, appearing virtually on the local talk show "Monthly Connect" by cable channel tvN Friday night.

Comparing the pandemic-stricken U.S. economy with the 2008 global financial crisis, the ex-president said, "Consumers (now) have a lot of money; they don't have a lot of debt as they did back then," as he predicted a strong economic rebound after COVID-19.

Obama pinpointed growing polarization of politics and public opinion as a major challenge facing President Joe Biden's administration.

"(There was) an increase in unwillingness to see any cooperation between the political parties," he said.

"I know President Biden wants cooperation and to find common ground with the Republicans, but as was true when I was president, they have found it convenient to not cooperate because they think that's the best path for them to return to power."

He also voiced concerns over the growth in right-wing media outlets in the United States, noting that many people are getting incorrect news from non-traditional news sources.

"This is how the falsehood (was created) that there's something wrong with the election, that Joe Biden has somehow cheated in the election," the former president stated. "A significant number of people in America believe that because that's what they are getting from their news sources."

Obama also drew on his experiences dealing with China, with which the U.S. sometimes has competing values, as well as the necessity to cooperate.

"Obviously U.S.-Chinese relations encompass a lot of different issues, and for us to get the Paris Agreement done, for example ... we had to have partnership, and I had to have a good working relationship with President Xi (Jinping)," he said.

"But I also have to recognize that we have competing values in some cases and that it was important for me to continue to raise those issues whenever I met with President Xi," Obama said, indicating that such an act, he learned, could open up chances for a change.

"So you get the small success, and you hope over time you are creating a new pattern on the international stage. I think when the U.S. is silent completely on these issues then I think that's bad for the international community in general," he said, citing the elimination of wars, poverty and discrimination or abuse of women as examples requiring U.S. attention.

The former American president also pointed to the huge popularity of K-pop in the U.S., as well as the winning of multiple Oscars at the Academy Awards by the Korean film "Parasite" last year, emphasizing the variety of culture younger generations are exposed to.

"We see these younger generations drawing from all these different traditions that create, I think, an instinct toward recognizing common humanity and understanding different people's stories in a new way. That makes me optimistic about the future."

He expressed hope that he could visit South Korea for a book tour for the second volume of his presidential memoirs, saying, "The bonds between our people are something extraordinarily valuable."

These images of former U.S. President Barack Obama during his appearance on "Monthly Connect" are provided by tvN. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

pbr@yna.co.kr
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