Chile

Columnists keep saying the Chilean dictator was a brute who modernized the economy. Actually, he was a brute with a rotten economic record. Take heed, Egyptians.

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The Trial of Robert D. Kaplan

The Atlantic's absurd defense of Henry Kissinger

The Atlantic writer's apologia for Henry Kissinger is incoherent and amoral all at once.

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The modern idea of human rights was only created after World War II. In the next half-century, it became a global movement.

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p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }span.Italic { font-style: italic; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; } As the U.S. economy fails to recover, there is a growing fear that the United States has entered a phase of long-term decline. Conservatives blame “big government” for throttling entrepreneurship; liberals tend to take aim at Wall Street.

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As the U.S. economy fails to recover, there is a growing fear that the United States has entered a phase of long-term decline. Conservatives blame “big government” for throttling entrepreneurship; liberals tend to take aim at Wall Street. Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi memorably described Goldman Sachs as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.” Among less inventive critics, the term in vogue is “financialization.” According to author Kevin Phillips, who popularized this notion, financialization is “a process whereby financial services, broadly construed, take over the dominant economic, cultural and political role in a national economy.”Elements of this thesis can be found in scores of books, articles, and blog posts on the state of the U.S. economy. Phillips blames financialization not just for the “Great Recession,” but for “excessive debt, great disparity between rich and poor, and unfolding economic decline.” In their book, 13 Bankers, former International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief economist Simon Johnson and James Kwak blame financial factors for the “anemic growth” in the overall economy prior to the crash. And, in an influential essay—titled “WHAT GOOD IS WALL STREET?”—The New Yorker economics writer John Cassidy pointedly contrasts the period when regulators restrained the growth of the finance sector (when wages, investment, and productivity grew, lifting “tens of millions of working Americans into the middle class”) with the period of growth experienced by the finance sector since the early ’80s (when “financial blowups have proliferated and living standards have stagnated”). One thing is clear: Financialization, in some form, has taken place. In 1947, manufacturing accounted for 25.6 percent of GDP, while finance (including insurance and real estate) made up only 10.4 percent. By 2009, manufacturing accounted for 11.2 percent and finance had risen to 21.5 percent—an almost exact reversal, which was reflected in a rise in financial-sector employment and a drop in manufacturing jobs. It is also clear that high-risk speculation and fraud in the financial sector contributed to the depth of the Great Recession. But Phillips, Johnson, and the others go one step further: They claim that financialization is the overriding cause of the recent slump and a deeper economic decline. This notion is as oversimplified, and almost as misleading, as the conservative attack on the evils of big government.

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Deficit hawks have tended to treat the notion of solving the medium-term fiscal probably entirely through taxes as some impractical left-wing scheme. Michael Linden and Michael Ettlinger point out that this would work perfectly well: The United States is an extremely low-tax country compared to the other economically advanced countries in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

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Paul Krugman cites Wisconsin as confirmation of Naomi Klein's "Shock Doctrine": The story of the privatization-obsessed Coalition Provisional Authority was the centerpiece of Naomi Klein’s best-selling book “The Shock Doctrine,” which argued that it was part of a broader pattern.

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Transition Traps

After the peaceful mass uprising that toppled one of the world’s oldest autocracies, it is now possible to imagine the emergence of a genuine democracy in Egypt—the most important country in the Arab world. The very possibility of it marks an historic turning point for the entire region.

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I'll be spending the remainder of this afternoon and evening watching election night coverage and blogging about it here. Think of it as an ultra-concentrated reenactment of the Chilean miners' ordeal. I am the miners, and the mine is the inky blackness that is televised election coverage in this nation—a muggy, cramped space a mile from the real world that’s jam-packed with mostly horrible people saying pointless things which seem designed to make regular people angry. Now, I know what you're thinking: "That's a ridiculous, insulting, offensive comparison, Jesse.

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Everything said and done around the World Cup in the last month has seemed right and wrong, spot on and deluded—and often simultaneously. First it was the “African Cup.” The dream was ephemeral, save perhaps for Ghana. Then there was talk about a “new Europe”: forget aging Italy, England, and France, here came the vibrant sons of a united Germany. (Though, it must be said, less and less of them are actually German). Almost as soon as it started, however, it became the “Latin American Cup.” European tactical conservatism seemed doomed against the Latin love for the game.

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