Quick Thoughts On Obama's Speech
December 10, 2009
I’m not a big fan of political speeches in general, but I thought President Obama’s Nobel acceptance speech today was unusually good. (If I were a speech-y kind of writer, like Rick Hertzberg, I’d have used a better adjective in the last sentence than “good.”) After again acknowledging that he doesn’t really deserve the award--“I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the considerable controversy that your generous decision has generated. In part, this is because I am at the beginning, and not the end, of my labors on the world stage.
How to Save Detroit
December 09, 2009
For much of the United States, Detroit has become shorthand for failure--not just because of the dilapidation of the town’s iconic industry, but because the entire metropolis seems like a dystopian disaster.
Bull in China Shop
December 09, 2009
Financial Times columnist Martin Wolf has a particularly good summary today of the danger that China’s undervalued currency poses to the world economy. As Wolf points out, China’s “real exchange rate is … no higher than in early 1998 and has depreciated by 12 per cent over the past seven months, even though China has the world’s fastest-growing economy and largest current account surplus.” That means, in effect, that China is levelling a large, uniform tariff on imports (whose price is higher than they should be relative to China’s goods) and granting a large subsidy to its own exports. That
December 09, 2009
From the hills outside Mandalay, Burma’s second city, the vista resembles a postcard of Asian serenity. Monks climb stone steps to a hillside shrine, where local men and women leave offerings of flowers and fruit. But the placid scene conceals one of the most repressive states in the world--a state that the Obama administration has decided may be more worthy of American friendship than American threats. For more than four decades, Burma’s junta has persecuted its population.
What would Ron Bloom Say?
December 07, 2009
My eye was drawn to the provocative headline, “Alcoa head says weak dollar is bad for US industry.” How could that be? Aren’t American manufacturing firms being hurt by an overvalued dollar that increases the price of their goods made here relative, say, to imports from China? That may be true, I learned, but that is not what bothers Klaus Kleinfeld, the CEO of Alcoa. He is worried because a weaker dollar makes the products that Alcoa manufactures outside the United States more expensive inside the United States. “It is actually hurting us substantially,” Kleinfeld told the Financial Times.
Innovation Nation: Israel
December 04, 2009
As America struggles to get its mojo back as a preeminent center of innovation and thereby prosperity, metropolitan and national economic leaders would do well to study the case of Israel. Israel? Yes, Israel.
December 03, 2009
Fed believes asset purchases lowered 10-year Treasury yields by 0.5%. Why didn't the Canadian housing market go bust? The service sector contracted in November. Level of private savings in China now equal to savings in US. Does Bernanke understand the concept of comparative advantage?
India Hops On Board
December 02, 2009
First the United States, then China—and now India is preparing to announce its own climate targets. According to the Guardian, the country will pledge to reduce its carbon intensity (CO2 per unit of GDP) by 24 percent over the next decade.
Dissecting China's "New" Carbon Goal
November 30, 2009
It usually takes some effort to unpack China's various climate pledges, and this latest one is no exception. Last week, Beijing declared that the country would aim to reduce its carbon intensity by 40 to 45 percent by 2020. This doesn't mean China's overall emissions will drop, it just means that CO2 emissions per unit of GDP will decline. Because China's economy is growing at such a torrid pace, overall emissions will keep ticking upward—it's just that the rate of growth will slow.
The Movie Review: Turkey Day Roundup
November 25, 2009
The biggest film of the year opens this week, though you may be forgiven if you haven’t heard about it, as it has committed the unpardonable sin of being in Chinese. John Woo’s historical epic Red Cliff is the most expensive and highest-grossing film ever made in China, and that nation’s most emphatic statement to date that it intends to compete with Hollywood and Bollywood for a share of the global cinema market.