Is The U.S.-China Dispute Overblown?
December 15, 2009

The United States and China appear to be at an impasse in climate discussions. At least, that's what The New York Times suggested today, reporting that the two countries are bickering over how, exactly, to monitor and verify China's new goal of reducing "carbon intensity" 40 percent by 2020. The United States wants some sort of international scrutiny—indeed, two weeks ago, a group of nine Senate Democrats wrote a letter to Obama saying they won't support a climate bill without it. China, meanwhile, insists it can monitor itself. So how big a deal is this dispute?

David Brooks’ Innovation Agenda: The Limits of the Market
December 11, 2009

In his Tuesday New York Times column earlier this week, David Brooks proposes what he calls a “bipartisan innovation agenda,” based on a September white paper from the president’s National Economic Council. Brooks is right to talk about innovation as a way to revive the nation’s sputtering economic engine. But his policy prescriptions don’t go far enough to spur innovation because they’re based on an overly market-oriented view of the economy: the idea that the market, if supplied with the right inputs and structured the right way, will produce all the innovation the nation needs.  Brooks adv

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
A plan for America’s greatest urban disaster
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

General Malaise
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.

Worth Reading
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.