22 January 2019

Real Insight

  • 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...
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has waged a complex hybrid war against the West, combining information and cyber warfare with active special operations to disrupt European institutions. Photo: Bloomberg

    Europe’s populist fifth column

    - Sep 4, 2018 8:32am
    European security currently rests essentially on the NATO alliance and the principle of mutual defense, and on cooperation between national intelligence services working to prevent violence against people and national assets. But in an era when...
  • Flawed economic policies could lead to a situation where the majority of US citizens will see their incomes stagnate even if the nation’s GDP expands, some observers say. Photo: Bloomberg

    The myth of secular stagnation

    - Aug 29, 2018 10:36am
    In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, some economists argued that the United States, and perhaps the global economy, was suffering from “secular stagnation,” an idea first conceived in the aftermath of the Great Depression....
  • Short-term movements in foreign-exchange markets are no way to judge a currency’s underlying strength. Photo: Bloomberg

    Trump’s strong-dollar weakness

    - Aug 23, 2018 9:54am
    Having gained more than 8 percent in value since the start of the year, the US dollar is nearing highs not seen in more than a decade, and market indicators point to even more appreciation in...
  • Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (right) and Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev speak during a signing ceremony between Greece and Macedonia on the shore of Lake Prespa on June 17, 2018. Photo: AFP

    Putin overplays his hand

    - Aug 21, 2018 8:35am
    The Kremlin’s foreign policy increasingly seems to rest on the assumption that all countries are as corruptible as Vladimir Putin’s Russia. This was evident most recently in Russia’s alleged efforts to undermine an agreement between Greece...
  • Despite his escalating rhetoric, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan may soon find that he has little choice but to abandon his isolationist and antagonistic policies of the last few years. Photo: Reuters

    The Turkish emerging market timebomb

    - Aug 15, 2018 10:23am
    Turkey’s falling currency and deteriorating financial conditions lend credence, at least for some people, to the notion that “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” I suspect that many Western policymakers, in particular, are not...
  • Most of the attacks on Google, in relation to alleged abuse of market dominant position, are driven by a mix of misconceptions and questionable claims, some observers argue. Photo: Reuters

    Europe’s Google fines cross the line

    - Aug 14, 2018 9:01am
    The European Union’s regulatory bodies seem to be particularly hostile to Google. In June 2017, the European Commission fined the company 2.42 billion euro (US$2.75 billion) for breaching EU antitrust rules, after concluding that, “Google has...

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