International Bank for Reconstruction and Development

The brief, three-page climate accord that came out of Copenhagen last December was, you'll recall, incredibly vague. There was some happy talk in the document about reducing emissions and sending aid to poorer countries, but few actual details. So, as Lisa Friedman reports in ClimateWire today, the task for lawyers and bureaucrats in the coming months will be to figure out what all those amorphous directives actually mean: The first real test of the accord comes Jan. 31, the deadline for both rich and poor countries to submit their economywide emission targets to the United Nations.

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Libertarians and others from the right-ish side of the ideological spectrum have lately been building a compelling case against worrying about income inequality. Here's Will Wilkinson writing on Cato Unbound in October: As far as I can tell, when most people are worried about economic inequality, they’re usually worried about inequalities in real standards of living — in the real material conditions of life. Income plays a crucial role in this story, but it’s a supporting role.

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The Ungreening of America

If you've been following the Copenhagen process this week, you may have noticed that the "debate" over climate change and what to do about it has regressed. Whereas, just a few years ago, George W. Bush acknowledged the human role in global warming and John McCain was a leading proponent of climate-change legislation, know-nothingism is now resurgent.

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Barack Obama convened his first official summit before he was even elected president. In October 2008, then-candidate Obama gathered a gaggle of business and political heavyweights--Paul Volcker, Eric Schmidt, Jennifer Granholm, Bill Richardson, etc.--in a Florida community college gymnasium for what his campaign billed as the “Growing American Jobs Summit.” “No cheerleading,” Obama admonished the 1,700 people who packed into the sweltering gym expecting a campaign rally.

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Aquacalypse Now

Our oceans have been the victims of a giant Ponzi scheme, waged with Bernie Madoff–like callousness by the world’s fisheries. Beginning in the 1950s, as their operations became increasingly industrialized--with onboard refrigeration, acoustic fish-finders, and, later, GPS--they first depleted stocks of cod, hake, flounder, sole, and halibut in the Northern Hemisphere.

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Call of the Wolf

Long before Martin Wolf became the chief economics columnist for the Financial Times, he wrote the newspaper letters--lots and lots of letters. It was the early 1980s, the height of the Thatcher era, and Wolf was running research at a think tank in London that was sympathetic to the government's pro-trade agenda.

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As we wade through a long line of international economic meetings--G20 ministers of finance last week, G20 heads of government in Pittsburgh coming up, IMF-World Bank governors meeting in Istanbul early October (and all the associated “deputies” meetings, where the real work goes on)--it seems fair to ask: Where is regulatory reform of our financial system heading? Long documents have been produced and official websites have become more organized. Statements of principle have been made. And the melodrama of rival reform proposals has reared its head: continental Europeans for controlling pay

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On innumerable trips to Singapore over the past decade, I always made sure to stop by the Old Tanglin Officers' Mess, the city-state's version of the State Department. There, amid a street of gleaming colonial-style buildings and perfectly trimmed tropical foliage, the best diplomats in Asia--fluent English- speakers with a staggering command of regional politics and sharply tailored suits--would entertain me at the after-work bar.

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Prophet Motive

This year, Nouriel Roubini, the economist known to the general public as Dr. Doom, Prophet of the Financial Apocalypse, spent the early hours of Mardi Gras on the floor of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. It was only 11 a.m., but the party was rollicking. Traders careened around the floor, hooting and honking, dressed as dragons and devils and convicts. Rock music roared overhead, and no one seemed to care that, by the bye, the market had tanked.

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I am sweating through my abaya as I drive to meet the sheik. It is a hot afternoon in Sana'a, and the sun beats down through an arid blue sky. Wispy pink and blue plastic bags that earlier held an afternoon's worth of the narcotic qat leaf float over the congested streets like kites, and children run up to cars paused at intersections, hawking everything from full flatware sets to the tiny perfume samples one might rip from an ad in a fashion magazine. The university I'm heading for sits on a hillside on the outskirts of town, on land donated by the government in the 1990s.

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