23 June 2018

Real Insight

  • Since 2010, Chinese consumers have added around US$2.9 trillion to the world economy. That is bigger than the entire UK economy. Photo: Reuters

    China’s irresistible rise

    - Jan 31, 2018 10:27am
    China’s recently released GDP data for 2017 confirm it: the country’s dramatic rise, with the concomitant increase in its global economic relevance, is not slowing down. To be sure, there has been fresh media chatter about...
  • China under President Xi Jinping is “adopting a new vision for development”, which “ensures and improves living standards”. Photo: Bloomberg

    China’s search for quality growth

    - Jan 31, 2018 9:40am
    As Chinese President Xi Jinping begins his second five-year term, shifting toward “quality growth” is at the top of the country’s policy agenda. Across China’s government, a quiet but resolute commitment to fostering a new growth...
  • Jakarta had sought to improve traffic flows with a rule that private cars driven during rush hours in the city’s central business district must contain at least three passengers. However, the rule was suspended in 2016. Photo: Reuters

    Which traffic policies work best for megacities?

    Jan 30, 2018 3:06pm
    Urbanization has many advantages. By bringing people together physically, cities inspire innovation and fuel opportunity. They bring workers closer to jobs and facilitate the diffusion of arts and culture. But the benefits of urban life are...
  • As is typical of a financial bubble, investors are buying cryptocurrencies not to use in transactions, but because they expect them to increase in value. Photo: Reuters

    Blockchain’s broken promises

    - Jan 29, 2018 4:49pm
      The financial-services industry has been undergoing a revolution. But the driving force is not overhyped blockchain applications such as Bitcoin. It is a revolution built on artificial intelligence, big data, and the Internet of Things....
  • AI and automation have obvious implications for employment. But they will also affect the human mind. Photo: Reuters

    The stupid economy

    - Jan 23, 2018 9:56am
      Most discussions about the march of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) have understandably concentrated on fears of massive job losses. But the implications of these technologies are actually far more terrifying. We have been brought...
  • Governments worldwide have begun to recognize the potential of water infrastructure to complement other economic and social policies, including those intended to improve health outcomes. Photo: Bloomberg

    Water management is health management

    - Jan 19, 2018 9:38am
    With climate change accelerating and its effects exacerbating other geopolitical and development crises, the role of environmental protection in preserving and improving human wellbeing has become starkly apparent. This recognition lies at the heart of the...
  • Ireland is a prominent example of how gross national income (GNI) has been used to correct for distortions in gross domestic product (GDP). Photo: Bloomberg

    GDP should be corrected, not replaced

    - Jan 18, 2018 10:10am
    Respected economists have long pointed out that gross domestic product is an inadequate measure of economic development and social well-being, and thus should not be policymakers’ sole fixation. Yet we have not gotten any closer to...
  • Trump's tax law, which emphasizes big cuts, especially for corporations and the highest-income earners, will widen the US budget deficit and, in turn, increase the current-account deficit, say critics. Photo: Reuters

    Making America’s deficits great again

    - Jan 16, 2018 9:44am
      US President Donald Trump and congressional Republican allies have succeeded in passing their big tax legislation. While it lacks many of the desirable attributes of true tax reform, it amounts to a success for Trump,...
  • The current good growth news risks obscuring the potential threats stemming from failure to achieve greater inclusiveness. Photo: Bloomberg

    The danger in today’s good economic news

    - Jan 12, 2018 10:19am
      As 2018 begins, things are looking up for the global economy. Over the last six months, growth projections by official institutions like the International Monetary Fund, matched or even exceeded by private forecasts, have been...
  • Looking at the global macro scene, while many oft-cited concerns in 2017 turned out to be unwarranted, it doesn’t mean economic risks have disappeared. Photo: Bloomberg

    Good times at last?

    - Jan 12, 2018 10:05am
      In February 2017, I wrote an optimistic commentary called “The Global Economy’s Surprising Resilience.” The piece came as a surprise to those who saw only bleak prospects for Western countries, not least the United States,...
  • Policy uncertainty in the US is nothing compared to the UK, where businesses face the twin disruptions of Brexit and (potentially) a Labour government led by the far-left Jeremy Corbyn. Photo: Bloomberg

    Giddy markets and grim politics

    - Jan 9, 2018 2:07pm
    Economic growth worldwide picked up in 2017, and the best guess is that the global economy will perform strongly in 2018 as well. At the same time, a rising tide of populism and authoritarianism poses a...
  • Workers separate plastic bags from other recyclable materials on a conveyor belt at a recycling center in Cincinnati, Ohio. The world needs plastics that will not only perform well, but will also biodegrade much faster. Photo: Bloomberg

    Better plastics for healthier oceans

    - Jan 8, 2018 10:15am
    Plastics are among the most popular materials in use today. Given the material’s versatility, it is little wonder that some 320 million tons of it are used around the world each year. Indeed, the recent holidays...
  • The expectation that trade would reduce inequality in the countries with the most unskilled workers has not been borne out. Photo: Bloomberg

    Does trade fuel inequality?

    - Jan 3, 2018 9:57am
    Inequality has become a major political preoccupation in the advanced economies – and for good reason. In the United States, according to the recently released World Inequality Report 2018, the share of national income claimed by...
  • Trump's 'tax reform' will lead to a more unequal society, say critics. Photo: Bloomberg

    The US Donor Relief Act of 2017

    - Jan 3, 2018 9:41am
    Never has a piece of legislation labeled as both a tax cut and a reform been received with as much disapproval and derision as the bill passed by the US Congress and signed into law by...
  • Governments face a moral and legal imperative to use the strongest possible measures to protect their citizens from tobacco. Photo: Reuters

    Seeing through Big Tobacco’s smokescreen

    We all know how bad tobacco is, that it kills millions of people every year, and that it harms many more. We also know that tobacco companies have consistently lied about how much damage their products...
  • Curbing greenhouse-gas emissions is low on the list of the priorities of JBS, the world's largest meat processor, environmental activists say. Photo: Bloomberg

    The meaty side of climate change

    - Dec 20, 2017 9:56am
      Last year, three of the world’s largest meat companies – JBS, Cargill, and Tyson Foods – emitted more greenhouse gases than France, and nearly as much as some big oil companies. And yet, while energy...
  • China's leaders have a public-policy war chest that they can use to cushion against financial turmoil. Photo: Bloomberg

    Is another debt crisis on the way?

    - Dec 19, 2017 10:13am
    Economic growth is accelerating across most of the world. Yet the world’s total gross debt-to-GDP ratio has reached nearly 250 percent, up from 210 percent before the global economic crisis nearly a decade ago, despite post-crisis...
  • A new growth model for Europe's neighborhood must involve a rebalancing of the financial system, among other things. Photo: Bloomberg

    A new growth model for Europe’s neighborhood

    Dec 19, 2017 10:02am
    More than ten years after the global financial crisis, the world economy is finally enjoying a broad-based recovery. Europe and its broader neighborhood are no exception: economic growth in almost every country in Central and Eastern...
  • A new technique in genetic engineering, CRISPR-Cas, offers both precision and the ability to modify the genome text at several places simultaneously. Photo: Internet

    The Holy Grail of genetic engineering

    - Dec 15, 2017 10:29am
    Since its introduction four decades ago, genetic engineering has been a source of high hopes for health, agriculture, and industry. But it has also provoked deep anxiety, not least owing to the laborious nature of the...
  • Among EU countries, average public debt increased from 73% of GDP in 2009 to 86% of GDP in 2016, far above the ceiling of 60% set by the Maastricht criteria. Photo: Bloomberg

    Surveying the damage of low interest rates

    - Dec 15, 2017 10:17am
    For years after the 2008 financial crisis, policymakers congratulated themselves for having averted a second Great Depression. They had responded to the global recession with the kind of Keynesian fiscal and monetary stimulus that the moment...

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