International Monetary Fund
Governing the World: The History of an IdeaBy Mark Mazower (Penguin Press, 475 pp., $29.95) WE HAVE PASSED, Mark Mazower writes, “from an era that had faith in the idea of international institutions to one that has lost it.” Mazower, a prolific professor of history at Columbia, has written a challenging and thought-provoking history of that arc of disillusion. We certainly have reason to be disillusioned.
Earlier this week, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) lowered its growth forecast for the global economy for this year and next. It seems that both developed and developing countries are going to expand more slowly than expected earlier this year. In a pattern also seen in 2011, the United States is experiencing a loss of momentum and the Eurozone countries are still stuck in a sovereign debt quagmire.
Athens, Greece—The big winners of Greece’s election this week were parties far removed from the political center. From the leftist SYRIZA, which came in second place with 17 percent of the vote, to the far-right Independent Greeks, who ended up with 11 percent, and the racist extremists of Golden Dawn, who gained 7 percent, the non-mainstream parties received an alarmingly large share of the total vote. What’s less clear, however, is what the vote tallies mean. Were they simply a reflection of anger against the ruling parties that have presided over the country’s current economic freefall?
If you were to pinpoint one moment when it looked as if things just might work out for Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, it would probably be February 2, 2010. That day, Fayyad addressed the annual Herzliya Conference, a sort of Israeli version of Davos featuring high-powered policymakers and intellectuals. It is not a typical speaking venue for Palestinians; yet Fayyad was warmly received.
I don’t usually wade into global economic policy here on the Stump, but as Mitt Romney reminded us in his speech last night, the 2012 presidential race is “still about the economy—and we’re not stupid.” So after coming across a particular pet peeve of mine just now, I’m going to wade on in. In its lead editorial today, the Wall Street Journal pushes back at the broadening ranks urging Germany to loosen up on its austerity mantra for Europe. I’m not going to get into that fight now—I figure this guy’s got it under control.
If you’re still filling out your tax forms, it may be tempting to cut some corners and tell a few white lies. But as the ethics-deficient politicians listed below can tell you, tax evasion doesn’t end well. Here’s a guide on “what-not-to-do,” courtesy of political figures, past and present. Spiro Agnew. The only vice president to resign due to criminal charges, Agnew left office in 1973 just ten months before Richard Nixon’s departure would have made him president.
On March 15, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán stood before nearly 100,000 of his fellow countrymen in Budapest and declared, “Hungarians will not live as foreigners dictate.” Drawing an explicit connection between the European Union, which Hungary enthusiastically joined in 2004, and the Soviet Union, which brutally crushed a Hungarian revolt in 1956, Orbán said, “We are more than familiar with the character of unsolicited comradely assistance, even if it comes wearing a finely tailored suit and not a uniform with shoulder patches.” This style of demagoguery is nothing new for Orbán.