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DONALD MORRISON Editor, TIME AsiaDon't break out the champagne yet, but as we describe in this week's cover story, there are signs that the global economic crisis just may be starting to ease. Japan's legislators finally reached agreement on recapitalizing the country's wheezing banks. (Eisuke Sakakibara, the Finance Ministry's Mr. Yen, discusses this new political will in an interview accompanying the story.) Meanwhile, the fractious United States Congress consented to refill the International Monetary Fund's coffers. The U.S. Federal Reserve cut interest rates for the second time in three weeks; stock markets around the world rejoiced. And members of TIME's Asian Board of Economists, meeting in Singapore, were cautiously but unmistakably upbeat about the prospects for recovery--as gradual as it will surely be.The Board has been around for nearly two decades, though its composition and venue change regularly. For this session we took the occasion of the World Economic Forum's East Asia summit to gather six world-class experts: Kenneth Courtis, chief economist and strategist for Deutsche Bank Group Asia Pacific in Tokyo; David Hale, chief global economist at Zurich Group in Chicago; Tommy Koh, Singapore's Ambassador-at-Large; Richard Koo, chief economist at Normura Research Institute in Tokyo; Mari Pangestu, executive director of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Jakarta; and Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Institute for International Development at Harvard University. Maybe it was the caffeine and chocolate-chip cookies we served them, but the panel talked non-stop for two hours about such portents as the rising foreign-exchange reserves of IMF pupils Thailand and South Korea and the helpful effect of lower interest rates worldwide, as well as the undeniable dangers that lie ahead: meltdown in Brazil, slower growth in the U.S., rising protectionism, the lure of unwise bailouts and capital controls.There was another display of confidence in Singapore last week. Joseph Estrada, making his first foreign trip as President of the Philippines, sought out TIME's editors for an interview. Estrada had gotten off to a notoriously shaky start in his new job, and his eagerness to talk to the world's leading newsmagazine means that he's feeling pretty good about his country and himself these days. (To see just how good, catch our interview with him at the end of the cover package.) But then, Estrada was merely demonstrating the same wisdom as Mr. Yen, our Asian economists and generations of statesmen, experts and other public figures before them: if you have something important to say, the world will listen if you tell it to TIME.