This has been a bad year for dictators, starting with the Arab Spring and ending now with the Russian Winter. If you are one of the autocrats who survived the annus horribilis of 2011, here are three lessons, drawn from some smart Russians and Russia-watchers, of what the unexpected Slavic protests this month could mean.
All the doubting Thomases who wondered whether Occupy Wall Street would have lasting political impact got their answer this week in Osawatomie, Kansas. That’s where President Barack Obama traveled to deliver a speech that is being billed as the mission statement for his 2012 re-election campaign.
London’s legal battle between Boris Berezovksy and Roman Abramovich is the best show in town. Who could resist a fight between two Russian oligarchs that includes open discussion of multi-million dollar bribes and a spat about whose lifestyle is more “exuberant?”
Europeans could use a little cheering up this week. One man who is trying to do that is George Soros. He knows his way around a currency crisis, of course, and he isn’t usually accused of being a Pollyanna. Soros thinks it is not too late to save Europe and the euro — but he warns that time is running out and that Europe’s leaders must fundamentally change their strategy to succeed.
My column last week on how a few members of the 1 percent are responding to Occupy Wall Street provoked some vehement responses, many of which appear in the comments to my post. One of the most interesting, though, was sent to me by email from a Canadian reader who thinks U.S. business elites are more sympathetic to OWS than my column suggested. I hope he is right — but I wonder whether his and his clients’ (he is a prominent art dealer) sympathy for OWS is partly a reflection of how much Canadian and U.S. political culture, particularly at the top, diverge. I’m publishing his comments below, and I hope you’ll tell me what you think.
Paul Martin and Ernesto Zedillo are members in good standing of the global elite. Martin is a former Canadian prime minister, finance minister, deficit hawk and, in his life before politics, multimillionaire businessman. Zedillo is a former president of Mexico, holds a doctorate in economics, directs Yale University’s Center for the Study of Globalization, and serves on the boards of the blue chips Procter & Gamble and Alcoa.
I had breakfast this week with Jeffrey R. Immelt, the chief executive of General Electric, and the main dish on the menu was tough love. In an interview before a packed hall in Times Square, the boss of the more than a century-old $177 billion global behemoth told me that Americans can still win in the global economy — but that they need to fight harder.
On a drizzly evening in Zuccotti Park this week, where the Occupy Wall Street protesters are camped out with the modern revolutionary’s gear of iPhone, blue tarp and cappuccino, I spotted one young man wearing a T-shirt with an image of Ronald Reagan and the words “Bad Religion.”