Barack Obama's US presidency has got off to a good start. American leadership has been given a more consensual substance and tone. Making clear to allies and rivals that he wants to improve relations, he has employed astute diplomacy. Tumultuous economic circumstances have been steadied. If his first 100 days in office were to be scored as an end-of-semester mark, he would get a B. Making such an assessment is, however, purely academic. The time frame is too short for any leader to make tangible inroads into substantial challenges. Mr Obama came into office with many of these. Regardless of this being early days, though, there is much value in leaders using such landmarks in their terms in office to reflect on and if necessary, adjust, policies. Mr Obama does not have to do much of this. Diplomatically, he has set a fine course to restore US legitimacy overseas and build the teamwork so necessary to solving the world's problems. His popularity at home and abroad remains high. Despite his economic policies not bearing as much fruit as we would have liked, his political appointments not all going his way and the occasional gaffe, we remain confident that he can still come up with answers. It helps that Mr Obama is America's first black president. That he is articulate, youthful and eloquent inspires confidence. He is far removed in style from his predecessor, George W. Bush - the world no longer needs to be so worried about wars being started unilaterally or moral crises arising over science. The president inherited a mess. The global economy imploded just before he won office. Mr Bush left him a record budget deficit, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, a battered American image and scepticism about US integrity and intentions. In response, Mr Obama has mostly said what we want to hear. China has been treated as an equal, not talked down to - and so it should be, given that Beijing holds the majority of US debt. A timetable has been put in place to pull troops out of Iraq. Exploratory steps have been made to make peace with Iran and Cuba. A speech in Turkey was used to kick-start the process of mending fences with the Muslim world. Electioneering pledges to end Bush-era torture, shut the Guantanamo Bay detention camp for terror suspects and get serious about climate change are being followed up with action. His first international trip, to the Group of 20 summit in London, was a qualified success; he eased strains with Russia and reinvigorated efforts to cut nuclear missile arsenals, while also helping mediate a dispute between China and France. Despite this, Mr Obama cannot be given an A. His assignments have yet to be completed. The 10-year US budget he has unveiled is visionary, with universal health care and protection against climate change at its core. But the toughest of political bargaining stands in the way of it becoming reality. Many issues and causes have been taken up in a short time, but two pressing ones remain on the shelf: North Korea and Myanmar. Hanging over all, though, is the economic crisis. Mr Obama's US$787 billion stimulus package is simply not enough for an economy that is under so much stress. The US$600 billion bailout of banks is failing; they are lending less than they were five months ago. We must not have overly high expectations. Mr Obama is a politician, not a diplomatic and economic superman. Nonetheless, given what he has so far said, done and achieved, there is no reason why we should lose hope in him. His record so far speaks for itself.