Policy-makers at the Federal Reserve, who ordinarily fret themselves silly over whether to hike interest rates in response to the possibility of overly high inflation, have a different sort of problem these days. If things continue the way they have been, some analysts are saying, the Fed may actually cut interest rates.

Such observations were being made earlier in the week when the Fed, looking at the economic turmoil in Asia and a happily restrained 1.5 percent inflation rate for the first seven months of this year, decided to do nothing at the moment. That was a smart non-move, but the Fed may eventually act to lower the interest on bank loans if national growth, which dropped from 5.5 percent in the first quarter to 1.4 in the second, should continue its sluggishness.The Fed's recent record is solid. It can be counted on to do its job. Can the president and Congress be counted on to do theirs? The administration is in fact pushing measures aimed at lifting Asia from its economic gloom, while some in Congress are finding a long list of excuses for inaction. In an era of inescapable global interdependence, Asia's future could be this country's as well, and further U.S. assistance to some Asian countries is sensible as long as they enact whatever reforms are necessary.