18 October 2018

Real Insight

  • New research shows the world may well be headed toward ecological and economic disaster. Photo: Reuters

    Is Hothouse Earth avoidable?

    Nearly 50 years ago, the Club of Rome’s report Limits to Growth warned that if economic growth continued apace without regard for the environment, the world could face ecological and economic collapse in the 21st century....
  • With the cryptocurrency bubble having gone bust, boosters have resorted to a defense of “blockchain”, the distributed-ledger software underpinning all cryptocurrencies. Photo: Bloomberg

    The big blockchain lie

    - Oct 16, 2018 9:01am
    With the value of Bitcoin having fallen by around 70 percent since its peak late last year, the mother of all bubbles has now gone bust. More generally, cryptocurrencies have entered a not-so-cryptic apocalypse. The value...
  • Progressives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have managed to present an attractive message to the voters whom Democrats must mobilize to win. Photo: Reuters

    People vs money in America’s midterm elections

    - Oct 12, 2018 11:11am
    All eyes are on the United States as November’s Congressional elections approach. The outcome will answer many alarming questions raised two years ago, when Donald Trump won the presidential election. Will the US electorate declare that...
  • Donald Trump speaks on the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington on October 1. Photo: Bloomberg

    The new and not improved NAFTA

    - Oct 10, 2018 10:07am
    US President Donald Trump acts as if he has pulled off a smashing victory by replacing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) – supposedly “the worst trade deal ever” – with the new United States-Mexico-Canada...
  • Although Singapore’s growth has slowed, it still compares favorably to Europe. Photo: Bloomberg

    Crazy Rich Asia

    - Oct 10, 2018 9:54am
    In the surprise hit movie “Crazy Rich Asians” (based on a 2013 Kevin Kwan novel), a New York University economics professor (Rachel), travels with her boyfriend to Singapore to meet his family. There, she learns, apparently...
  • US international leadership must rest on American values, and on a broad perception of adherence to the unalienable principles underlying liberal democracy.  Photo: Reuters

    Reclaiming American internationalism

    Oct 9, 2018 10:20am
    To watch the debate play out in America’s news media, it would seem that the opposite of “America First” is American interventionism: a chronic penchant for leaping, to no apparent end, into wars of choice and...
  • US President Donald Trump seems to think that multilateralism dilutes American power, given that the United States can always use its economic and geopolitical clout to win a bilateral dispute. Photo: AFP

    What’s behind Trump’s trade war?

    - Oct 9, 2018 10:02am
    Since World War II’s end, trade has grown 50 percent faster than global GDP, owing largely to successive rounds of liberalization under the auspices of the World Trade Organization (previously the General Agreement on Tariffs and...
  • Clear message: To avoid severe economic and social shocks and protect essential ecosystems, we urgently need to limit the increase in global temperature to within 1.5° Celsius of the pre-industrial level. Photo: Reuters

    The latest climate science must mobilize us, not paralyze us

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations body tasked with providing scientific evidence and consensus on climate change and its implications for decision-makers and the public, has just issued its latest, long-awaited report....
  • Once a champion of democracy, Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is now mired in corruption scandals. Photo: Reuters

    Drain the EU swamp

    - Oct 5, 2018 1:54pm
    Populist leaders have long made gains by posing as the alternative to a “corrupt elite” that enriches itself at the expense of “the people”. According to the populists, only they can restore decency to governance. Or,...
  • Starbucks has positioned itself to play a major role in upending not just how payments are made but also the business model of established banks. Photo: AFP

    The First Bank of Starbucks

    - Oct 3, 2018 8:31am
    On August 3, Starbucks made an announcement which, though little noticed at the time, amounts to a potentially massive shift in the organization of finance. How did an international chain of coffee shops position itself to...
  • China should reaffirm its 2013 commitment to ensuring that markets play a decisive role in allocating resources. Photo: CNSA

    Chinese reform during a trade war

    - Sep 28, 2018 10:16am
    Last June, The Economist lamented that US President “Donald Trump is undermining the rules-based international order” as he seeks “short-term wins for America” at the cost of “long-term damage to the world”. With Trump now escalating...
  • “Big Oil” firms have been hit by a number of actions relating to their role in climate change. Photo: Bloomberg

    Storm warning for the fossil fuel industry

    - Sep 27, 2018 10:16am
    This has been a year of extreme weather events, from the “Beast from the East” that froze much of the United Kingdom in March to Hurricane Florence on the US East Coast and Typhoon Mangkhut in...
  • Trump thinks import tariffs will improve the US trade balance, but he doesn’t seem to understand that if foreign exporters are cut off from the US market, they will not have the dollars to buy American goods, notes Jeffrey Frankel. Photo:Reuters

    Trump’s currency confusion continues

    - Sep 21, 2018 11:03am
    Next month, the US Department of the Treasury is due to submit to Congress its biannual report detailing which countries, if any, are manipulating their currencies to gain an unfair trade advantage. For his part, President...
  • High-flying emerging-economy firms succeed in a hyper-competitive environment, where getting to the top is hard, and staying there is even harder. Photo: Bloomberg

    The emerging world’s high achievers

    - Sep 19, 2018 10:08am
    Emerging economies are often grouped together as something of a monolith. But when it comes to economic performance, they diverge widely, with only some countries achieving rapid and relatively consistent growth over long periods. What is...
  • Ten years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the financial crisis, the world doesn’t seem to have learnt all the lessons, economists say. Photo: Bloomberg

    The makings of a 2020 recession and financial crisis

    - Sep 14, 2018 10:48am
    As we mark the decennial of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, there are still ongoing debates about the causes and consequences of the financial crisis, and whether the lessons needed to prepare for the next one...
  • China has contributed an even larger share of global growth in this decade than it did in the last. Photo: Bloomberg

    The global economy ten years after

    - Sep 11, 2018 10:09am
    Much will be said about the tenth anniversary of the 2008 financial crisis, so I will focus on the global economy, which has not been nearly as weak as many seem to think. According to the...
  • Thousands try to cross the Venezuela-Colombia border through the Simon Bolivar International Bridge in San Antonio del Tachira, Venezuela. Photo: Reuters

    The regional costs of Venezuela’s collapse

    - Sep 6, 2018 8:30am
    As Venezuela’s great experiment with “Bolivarian” socialism implodes, it is creating a humanitarian and refugee crisis comparable to Europe in 2015. Traveling by bus, boat, and even on foot through treacherous terrain, around one million Venezuelans...
  • The right way to respond to financial crises is with policies that restore the value of private assets, argues Roger Farmer.

    Secular stagnation revisited

    - Sep 5, 2018 10:29am
      The public spat between Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz and former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers is remarkable for the personal animosity that it reveals between two economists who essentially agree about the economics. Stiglitz levels...
  • Lehman Brothers' collapse revealed a flaw not just in finance, but in 21st-century politics and society, says Harold James. Photo: Bloomberg

    What Lehman Brothers’ failure means today

    - Sep 5, 2018 10:16am
      So far this year, the world has marked the 50th anniversary of the Prague Spring (and its suppression), the centennial of the end of World War I, and the bicentennial of Karl Marx’s birth. Against...
  • The theory of secular stagnation holds that, left to its own devices, the private economy may not find its way back to full employment, which makes public policy essential. Photo: Bloomberg

    Setting the record straight on secular stagnation

    - Sep 4, 2018 10:18am
      Joseph Stiglitz recently dismissed the relevance of secular stagnation to the American economy, and in the process attacked (without naming me) my work in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. I am...

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