U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who has taken to the road this week to shore up confidence among some of his country's biggest debt holders, is trying to get their attention by acknowledging that Washington has a “special responsibility” to maintain stability in the global economy.

The unusual public embrace of the United States' perceived role as linchpin of the world economy signals that the Obama administration wants to counter a growing global uneasiness with its fiscal policies. A significant waning of demand for the country's debt could trigger higher interest rates, which would undermine efforts to bring the world's largest...

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