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.
A Must-Read on China and the Deficit
November 25, 2009
Chris Hayes had a great column in The Nation last week about the totemic status of our debt to China: But if domestic Chinese concerns about the country's monetary codependence with the United States explain some of the statements of the country's leaders, they don't explain why the US media and commentators seem so intent on giving the story maximum play. The answer to that, I think, is politics. It's increasingly clear that China has replaced the bond market as the nebulous specter that fiscal hawks will use to justify domestic austerity.
The Case for Deficit Spending
November 25, 2009
If there was one thing that seemed certain about the Obama administration, it was their commitment to Keynesian deficit spending to boost the economy out of its slump. But Keynes beware: With unemployment at a whopping 10.2 percent, and probably rising, the White House has begun trumpeting its commitment to Hoover-style deficit busting. On November 13, the White House warned cabinet departments of a spending freeze. The next week, while in China, Barack Obama told an interviewer the United States could suffer from a “double-dip recession” if it didn’t restrain public debt.
Losing the Democracies: Obama's Heart is With the Hooligans
November 24, 2009
At least, that's what many of our old and deeply democratic friends seem to feel. Now, it's hard to accept that the president of the United States would actually make that choice. He probably feels--but how do I really know? I actually don't--that the hooligans and especially the hooligans who produce our oil and the hooligans who buy our products are the folk we need court more than our historic allies. After all, what else can they do but stick with us? Tough darts! Obama's initiatives up to now--with Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Russia, China--have been failures.