The Great Debate UK

from The Great Debate:

Africa at the threshold

john-simon-- John Simon was recently U.S. Ambassador to the African Union and former Executive Vice President of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.  He is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Center for Global Development in Washington DC. The views expressed are his own. --

President Obama's trip to Ghana highlights one of Africa's leading success stories - a country that has held five consecutive democratic elections, recently transferring power peacefully to the opposition after it won a razor thin victory.

Ghana is not alone. Sub-Saharan countries made tremendous progress in the past decade. Freedom House ranks seven out of ten of Sub-Saharan countries as free or partly free. Through 2007, Africa experienced 10 years of uninterrupted economic growth, the last five at rates above 5 percent. Foreign capital inflows increased from only $7 billion in 2002 to $53 billion in 2007.

Yet continued progress is not inevitable.  If Africa is to realize its potential, the hard work Africans have exerted over the past decade to improve the continent's governance and economic policies must continue, and despite the myriad of pressing issues elsewhere, engagement by the international community in general, and the United States in particular, cannot flag.

from The Great Debate:

The Obama-Medvedev security summit

medvedevobama

gard-reif-- Robert Gard (right), a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general and former president of both National Defense University and the Monterey Institute of International Studies, is chairman of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, where Kingston Reif (left) is deputy director of nuclear non-proliferation. The views expressed are their own. --

Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev are meeting this week in Moscow for their first full summit. High on their agenda is the landmark 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which will expire on December 5. The expiration of START will mean the loss of the ability to legally limit and verify the two countries’ still enormous numbers of deployed nuclear weapons and delivery systems.

from The Great Debate:

Obama, Iran and a meaningless phrase

Bernd Debusmann - Great Debate-- Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. --

It's time to kill the international community. The phrase, that is.

Usually shorthand for the governments of "the West," the phrase is over-used (a Google search produces 447 million hits) and under-thought. It is often misleading and sometimes plain wrong. As in President Barack Obama's news conference remarks this week on Iran's post-election crackdown on protest:

from The Great Debate:

GM shows Obama is no Vulcan

obama-- James Pethokoukis is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

Here's why the U.S. government's growing control over General Motors -- Uncle Sam may soon own some 70 percent of the troubled U.S. automaker -- is so vexing: This is supposed be the "no drama, no emotion" White House, a place where cool, calculating reason holds sway.

No we can’t: Obama’s Guantanamo

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Cori Crider

- Cori Crider represents 30 Guantánamo prisoners as an attorney with legal charity Reprieve. The opinions expressed are her own. -

You would be hard-pressed to find a kid more thrilled on Barack Obama’s first day in office than Mohammed el Gharani. On January 21, had you been standing at the right corner of Guantanamo Bay, you could have heard him whoop for joy when the U.S. President made history—so we thought—by closing the prison where el Gharani grew up.

from The Great Debate:

India poll should boost world trade

Paul Taylor Great Debate-- Paul Taylor is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

India's voters have just given stalled world trade talks their biggest potential boost since the financial crisis spurred fears of rising protectionism.

By handing the governing Congress party a decisive victory, unshackled from the Communist party, Indians have created a chance to break a deadlock in negotiations on global commerce that foundered last year on a U.S.-Indian spat over farm trade.

The quantitative easing conundrum

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adriankidd2- Adrian Kidd is financial planner at Unleash Advice. He was voted 50th Most Influential IFA in the UK by Professional Adviser magazine 2008. The opinions expressed are his own.-

The Bank of England tells us that their 75 billion pound quantitative easing programme will start the banks lending again (despite the banks saying that they are already lending, this is not strictly true). The programme works by the Bank buying securities from the banks and then this money can be loaned to consumers. The question is, does and will this work? Is 75 billion pounds enough?

from The Great Debate:

Iran sanctions and wishful thinking

Bernd Debusmann - Great Debate
-- Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

So what's so difficult in getting Iran to drop its nuclear program? All it needs is a great American leader who uses sanctions to break the Iranian economy so badly that popular discontent sweeps away the leadership. It is replaced without a shot being fired.

from The Great Debate:

President Obama’s three percent solution

Jonathan Hoganson-- Jonathan R. Hoganson is the deputy executive director of the Technology CEO Council, a public policy advocacy group that includes the CEOs of Intel, HP, Dell, Applied Materials, EMC, Motorola, Micron Technology and IBM. He previously was the legislative director for Rep. Rahm Emanuel and policy director for the House Democratic Caucus. The views expressed are his own. --

A few years from now, when our economy has regained its stride, we may look back to a little-noticed announcement last Monday that spurred the resurgence. Amid swine-flu hysteria and First 100 Days hoopla, President Obama quietly announced a commitment to spending three percent of the U.S. GDP on science research and development.

A bet against Castro’s immortality

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REUTERS– Neil Collins is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

LONDON, April 23 (Reuters) – “Practically everyone who follows Latin American events agrees that Castro’s end is near.” Thus one Laurence W Tuller, writing in 1994 in his manual on high-risk, high-reward investing. Defaulted Cuban government bonds had jumped on hopes of a settlement to allow the country back into the international capital markets.
Today, former leader Fidel Castro’s end is 15 years nearer, but he’s still there, albeit in semi-retirement, and holders of these pre-Castro bonds with a face value of around $200 billion are still waiting. Castro’s regime kept good records, but have paid no interest, and ignored redemption dates since his revolution half a century ago.
Few Americans can remember why their administration has been so beastly to Cuba for so long.
Those who can mostly live in Florida, a key swing state, and many risked everything to get out of Cuba. They do not want to see their investment devalued by hordes of their former compatriots simply walking off the Delta Airlines flight from Havana.
Last week U.S. President Barack Obama eased the squeeze somewhat. Americans can now visit Cuba, but only if they have relatives there.
This gesture has re-ignited the bondholders’ old hopes. Past settlements of defaulted sovereign bonds have tended to pay about half the total of accrued interest plus principal, so the buyers see plenty of upside.
Exotix, a specialist trader in “frontier markets”, says its price for a typical Cuban bond instrument has risen from around 9 cents on the dollar at the start of this month to 14 cents on April 23.
Mind you, the spread is wide, the market thin and as events crowd in on the President, he might feel there are more pressing problems than to risk upsetting those key-voting Floridian Cubans.

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