Efforts by governments and the International Monetary Fund to stabilise economies are finding their mark. The stock market, currency and commodity price rebounds of the past three days have brought confidence where before there was doom and gloom. But investors thinking that an end to the turmoil is in sight would be wrong; the sharp ups and downs will continue for some time yet and many of the world's richest economies are already in, or about to sink into, recession. A lasting solution is still needed and it is up to the wealthiest nations, with the United States in the lead, to find and implement it. The US has a moral obligation to steer the recovery effort. Its flawed fiscal oversight is the reason for the meltdown. Washington has to make sure that no country will become insolvent. President George W. Bush and his successor in the White House must do their utmost to help put matters right. It is good that this duty has so far been recognised. The US Federal Reserve on Wednesday announced temporary swap lines of credit with the central banks of Brazil, Mexico, Singapore and South Korea; it had already put similar arrangements in place with Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the European Central Bank. The move aims to improve liquidity in global markets by increasing the availability of US dollars. It is mostly symbolic - all the nations involved have the means to weather the storm. Nonetheless, the worth of the gesture was plainly on show yesterday, with big gains in share prices and sharp rebounds against the greenback for the Singaporean and South Korean currencies contributing to the regional turnaround. Although the US has to lead the recovery effort, it is by no means the only nation with a responsibility to help. China, Japan, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and other nations with substantial foreign currency reserves have a key role to play. Premier Wen Jiabao's assurance every assistance will be given to Hong Kong helps take a weight off worried minds. Given the dire warnings and predictions of what lies ahead for our economy, his comforting words were in part responsible for the Hang Seng Index's gains. The central government could also help needy counterparts such as Pakistan stave off the threat of bankruptcy. Japan recently suggested providing up to US$200 billion to the International Monetary Fund to loan to crisis-hit governments. This is what is required of cash-rich nations. The IMF has rushed in with a series of bailout packages. It has set the right tone by discussing with needy governments new credit terms free from the heavily conditional ones implemented during the Asian financial crisis. The meeting of leading developed and developing nations in Washington next month to map out a strategy should likewise take clear-cut measures. Agreements have to be forcefully implemented. Governments facing economic hard times tend to turn to protectionist trade policies. The gains from such an approach are only short-term. At such a time, the principles of free trade that have served the world so well have to be faithfully adhered to. All people, not just a few, will reap the benefits of goods, services and skills being freely exported and imported. The light at the end of the tunnel is not yet visible. Stock markets continue to swing wildly. Economic slowdown, if not recession, lies ahead. Governments have done much to try to bring about financial stability, but more far-reaching steps are necessary before they can claim to have averted a meltdown.