Commentaries

Third person spells trouble in politicians

By Paul Taylor
October 8, 2009

nixonOUKTP-UK-ITALY-BERLUSCONIBeware of politicians who speak about themselves in the third person. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are paranoid. But it is usually an indicator of some kind of trouble.

West raises stakes over Iran nuclear programme

By Paul Taylor
September 25, 2009

big-3President Obama and the leaders of France and Britain have deliberately raised the stakes in the confrontation over Iran’s nuclear programme by dramatising the disclosure that it is building a second uranium enrichment plant. Their shoulder-to-shoulder statements of resolve, less than a week before Iran opens talks with six major powers in Geneva, raised more questions than they answer.

Rethinking carbon diplomacy

September 22, 2009

Climate change was initially billed in a leading role at the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh. Now it looks set to make the briefest of cameo appearances.

A chance for real change at the G20

September 21, 2009

For years, policy makers were able to cut and paste statements on global imbalances from one communique to the next. The words were never backed by action. This G20 meeting could very well be different.

Why Russia needs America

September 21, 2009

In the wake of President Obama’s decision to scrap the U.S. missile defence shield in eastern Europe, many are pondering Russia’s response. The relationship will remain in the spotlight this week, when President Medvedev heads to the U.S. for the G20 summit. Although the precise nature of Russia’s reaction remains to be seen, it has a big incentive to improve relations. It badly needs American investment and co-operation to help solve serious economic problems at home.

“Tobin tax” gaining ground in Europe

By Paul Taylor
September 21, 2009

No longer just a hopeless cause for anti-capitalist activists, the idea of a global tax on financial transactions is gaining ground in Europe.

Shelved missile shield tests NATO unity

By Paul Taylor
September 17, 2009

foghAfter just six weeks as NATO secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen has his first crisis. The alliance may be slowly bleeding in an intractable war in Afghanistan, but the immediate cause is the U.S. administration’s decision to shelve a planned missile shield due to have been built in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Free-trade advocates need to get real

September 17, 2009

President Barack Obama’s decision to impose safeguard tariffs on imported tyres from China has drawn predictable howls of outrage from economists, think tank staff and editorial writers — none of whom has seen their job exported to China. It would be more constructive if they devoted the same effort to devising ways to compensate losers from globalisation in order to shore up waning public support for trade liberalisation.
Between 2000 and 2008, almost 4 million jobs were lost in U.S. manufacturing (22 percent of the total), many as the result of offshoring and increasing competition from lower-cost manufacturers in China and elsewhere in Asia.

Banking? Keep it simple stupid

September 10, 2009

In 1873, Walter Bagehot wrote that “the business of banking ought to be simple; if it is hard it is wrong.” He would have struggled to recognize today’s banking system.

Scavenging for good news in the jobs data

September 4, 2009

Interpreting the employment numbers has become an exercise in scavenging for good news. After a year of beefy job losses, any sign that the pace of deterioration is slowing is certainly welcome. Were it not for the Obama stimulus package, we would probably be continuing to see job declines of closer to half a million a month.