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Wolfowitz, Portman Among Nominees for Trade and Development


Investors and consumers watched soaring oil prices this week, while many in official Washington focused on trade problems. Meantime, President Bush nominated a controversial person to head the World Bank. Here is a look at some of this week's business highlights from VOA's Economics Editor, Jim Randle.

World oil prices soared to new all-time highs this week in New York and London, as investors bet that rising demand for oil will outstrip supply. The surging prices came even though OPEC raised production quotas on Wednesday. Demand for oil is rising as China, India, and the United States try to fuel their expanding economies.

Oil is one of many goods and services imported by the United States - so many goods that the U.S. economy had a record-breaking current account deficit of $666 billion last year. The current account deficit is largely the gap between what Americans buy abroad and what they sell to foreign customers.

President Bush has nominated Congressman Rob Portman to be the U.S. Trade Representative . If confirmed, he will try to improve Washington's trading relationship with the rest of the world and push Congress to approve a free trade agreement with Latin America.

Mr. Bush also nominated Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz to head the World Bank. Mr. Wolfowitz is a conservative and an architect of the Iraq war. The World Bank provides loans and advice to poor countries.

The man accused of orchestrating one of the largest frauds in U.S. history is guilty, and may face decades in prison. Jurors found Bernard Ebbers responsible for inflating earnings and hiding expenses of Worldcom to fool investors and lenders. Worldcom collapsed in the largest bankruptcy in American history, hurting thousands of investors and employees.

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