The Great Debate UK

from The Great Debate:

Obama, Iran and a meaningless phrase

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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:

"The United States and the international community have been appalled and outraged by the threats, beatings and imprisonments of the last few days."

Which international community? Certainly not one that includes the world's most populous country, China, where there were no signs of outrage. Instead, the Foreign Ministry endorsed the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the choice of the Iranian people and expressed hopes for stability.

from The Great Debate:

GM shows Obama is no Vulcan

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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

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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

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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

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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.

from The Great Debate:

Obama mulls cap-and-trade by decree

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John Kemp Great Debate-- John Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

Senior U.S. administration officials have indicated that if Congress does not pass comprehensive legislation providing for a cap-and-trade system to regulate greenhouse gas emissions they will press ahead unilaterally with proposals using the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s existing authority under the Clean Air Act.

This is an attempt to gain political leverage after deep divisions within the Democratic Party appeared when 26 Democratic senators rebelled earlier this month and voted for an amendment to the budget resolution barring cap-and-trade being considered as part of the budget.

from The Great Debate:

G20 ends Anglo-Saxon era

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Paul Taylor Great Debate

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

Thursday's G20 summit may not mark the end or even the beginning of the end of the global recession. It did mark the end of the ascendancy of the unfettered, Anglo-Saxon model of capitalism.

What comes next is far from sure, but it will be different from the headlong dash for individual enrichment, short-term profit and financial acrobatics that began with the dominance of U.S. President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s. The widespread acceptance of increased regulation would have been anathema for U.S. President Barack Obama's predecessors.

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