Gordon Brown's Financial Shock and Awe
November 10, 2009

There are two broad views on our newly resurgent global bubbles--the increase in asset prices in emerging markets, fuelled by capital inflows, with all the associated bells and whistles (including dollar depreciation). These run-ups in stock market values and real estate prices are either benign or the beginnings of a major new malignancy. The benign view, implicit in Secretary Geithner’s position at the G20 meeting last weekend, is most clearly articulated by Frederic (Ric) Mishkin, former member of the Fed’s Board of Governors and author of "The Next Great Globalization: How Disadvantaged N

Pipeline Politics
November 02, 2009

As the world tries to cut its carbon emissions in the next few decades, natural gas will become increasingly crucial as a stopgap fuel, since it produces less CO2 pollution than coal or oil. At least, that's what the EIA thinks will happen. And the geopolitical implications of this trend are interesting.

Obama Drills Down on Afghanistan
October 29, 2009

Obama wants a study of the country at a micro-level. That seems reasonable enough in the abstract--but it's also coming a bit late. This, too, wasn't done during that January-March review? It also signals something less than a vote of total confidence in the judgment of the top U.S. commander on the ground, Stanley McChrystal. Moreover, it further indicates that we won't see a decision on troop levels in the next several days.

October 24, 2009

It's some 400 miles from Harvard Square to Capitol Hill, but when Rory Stewart made the trip last month, he chose an unlikely mode of transport: He took a plane. Stewart is an inveterate, epic walker. He spent part of this past summer strolling the 150 miles from Crieff to Penrith in his native Scotland. More impressively, in 2002, not long after he quit his job with the British Foreign Office, he walked across Afghanistan, a 600-mile jaunt that served as the basis for his best-selling book The Places In Between.

The Top Ten Things Worth Fighting For
October 13, 2009

It’s been almost a hundred years since progressives began the campaign to make health care a right. And never before has the campaign come this far. Five congressional committees have now had their say about health care reform. And, as of Tuesday afternoon, all five have said “aye.” At this point, passage and enactment of health care reform seems not just likely but very likely.

The Forest and the Trees
September 29, 2009

Understanding the construct we call Nature.

The Plot Thins
September 29, 2009

Among those who know me well, few can remember when I covered any subjects other than Al Qaeda and the global jihad. I wrote about Osama Bin Laden when he was "Usama bin Ladin." And so since September 14, all anybody's been asking me are questions about a young Afghan immigrant named Najibullah Zazi and his alleged involvement in the first Al Qaeda cell uncovered in America since the 9/11 attacks. Here are my answers to the four most common questions I've been getting.  1. Is this just another of the government's over-hyped terror plots?  U.S.

G20 Starts Phasing Out Fossil-Fuel Subsidies--Sort Of
September 25, 2009

Looks like this week's climate banter wasn't totally substance-free. Earlier today, G20 governments finally agreed to phase out subsidies for fossil fuels, which jack up demand for oil, gas, and coal by artificially lowering prices. The phase-out would happen in the "medium term," with no specific timetables (countries like India want a slow transition so poor people don't get hit with a swift price spike). Still, it's a decent first step.

Palin Heads For Hong Kong
September 22, 2009

Independent investment brokerage CLSA (short for Credit Lyonnais Securities Asia) is paying Sarah Palin to deliver the keynote address at its 16th Investors' Forum in Hong Kong tomorrow. CNN notes that she will speak about "governance, economics, and current events in the United States and Asia." This strikes me as riotous on two levels: 1. Someone is actually giving Palin money to talk to 1,000 or so international investors about global economics and what's going on in Asia. 2.

This Giant Isn't Sleeping
September 17, 2009

It’s now widely believed that the global recession is coming to an end, but the path out has been far from typical: This time around, China, not the U.S. has led the global recovery. With its $600 billion stimulus package and with banks lending with abandon, China has become the engine of global manufacturing and industrial activity.