The Great Debate UK

from The Great Debate:

China’s growth obsession may spawn jobless upturn

Wei Gu -- Wei Gu is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are her own --

China is pulling all the stops to keep the economy growing by at least 8 percent, a pace considered necessary to absorb millions of migrant workers and graduates that hit the job market every year.

Ironically, with all its attention focused on the vigorous "defense of the eight", Beijing risks losing sight of its ultimate goal -- creating enough jobs to preserve social peace -- and may end up engineering a jobless recovery.

Not only the rate of growth is important, but also its sources. Expansion led by capital-intensive industries will not be as effective in creating jobs as one driven by more labor-intensive sectors.

Statistics of the past three decades show that with the focus on investment, rise of heavy industries and China's wish to move up the value chain, more and more economic growth has been needed to create the same number of jobs.

from The Great Debate:

EU enters lame duck year amid challenges

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

The European Union is entering a lame duck year just as new challenges are mounting from Israel's assault on Gaza, Russia's gas cut-off to Ukraine and the impending inauguration of U.S. President Barack Obama.

The EU's active crisis management in the Georgia war and the global financial meltdown last year under the energetic leadership of French President Nicolas Sarkozy was an exception, not the dawn of a new, more effective Union.

from The Great Debate:

UK suffers from banks’ Darwinian hibernation

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James Saft Great Debate -- James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

Britain's banks are fulfilling their Darwinian role, to survive, rather than their economic one, to lend, and there is no easy or painless way out.

A glance at the latest Bank of England Credit Conditions Survey makes grim reading, with yet another marked tightening of lending conditions to households and businesses. Loans are harder to get and more expensive where available, which is hardly surprising given rising defaults and a hardening view that the UK will suffer a long and deep recession.

from The Great Debate:

Why did the SEC fail to spot the Madoff case?

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mark_williams-- Mark T. Williams, a finance professor at the Boston University School of Management, is a risk-management expert and former Federal Reserve Bank examiner. The views expressed are his own. --

With Congress now probing the Bernard Madoff case, some claim the SEC missed the risk because of under staffing. Even if that’s an issue, one SEC enforcement officer using basic risk-management skills, asking probing questions, searching for clear answers, and exercising timely follow up could have helped in detecting this fraud before it grew to such a staggering size.

from The Great Debate:

Obama’s radical environmental strategy

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

Most successful elected leaders must disappoint their most ardent supporters at some point, as the bright hopes of an election campaign give way to the complex realities and constraints of governing, and need to occupy and retain the political center-ground to win re-election.

The trick of really successful leaders is to let supporters down gently to avoid turning disappointment into frustration and anger, retaining allegiance and support even when the maximum agenda goes unfulfilled and compromises must be made. Political supporters have to be given enough policy gains to be kept loyal, even as some cherished objectives fall by the wayside.

from The Great Debate:

Brace yourself: Political-market risks in 2009

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prestonkeat-- Preston Keat is director of research at Eurasia Group, a global political risk consultancy, and author of the forthcoming book “The Fat Tail: The Power of Political Knowledge for Strategic Investors” (with Ian Bremmer). Any views expressed are his own. For the related story, click here.

There are a number of macro risks that will continue to grab headlines in 2009, including the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, cross-border tensions and state instability in Pakistan, and Iran's 
ongoing quest to develop advanced nuclear technologies.

from The Great Debate:

We are all Madoff investors

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James Saft Great Debate -- James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

It was perhaps inevitable that we ended 2008, the year we learned we were up the creek, with a great financial scandal: the Madoff Ponzi case.

What is even more remarkable is the way in which the alleged fleecing of many billions of dollars from wealthy people and charities -- investors who should have known better or employed people who did -- serves as a mirror for the broader culture, showing how we went wrong and where we are left now that we realize our errors.

from Global News Journal:

A Braveheart Christmas in the Holy Land

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In the big battle scene in the movie Braveheart, terrified whispers ran up and down the ragged ranks of sword-waving Scots that the English were ranged before them with “500 heavy horse” – armoured cavalry of devastating power in those days.

But the wild-haired hero-general William Wallace (actor-director Mel Gibson) rode his pony up and down the front ranks shouting: “We don’t have to beat them. We just have to fight them!”

from The Great Debate:

Managing nonprofits in an “age of hope”

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-- Prof. James Post, an authority on corporate governance, teaches “Strategies for Nonprofits” at the Boston University School of Management. The views expressed are his own. --

I am inclined to think the Bernard Madoff affair has blown the lid off the financial madness of this decade.  We have been living in an age of fraud, and now must rethink the way we do business.  As John Kennedy once appealed to the nation’s better angels to call us into public service, Barack Obama’s inaugural address should instruct us on our obligation to serve the greater good.  It’s not just a moral concept; it’s good business.  I offer a corollary as well: Without good business, how far will a moral concept take you?

from The Great Debate:

A Christmas wish: End traffic congestion in 2009

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diana-furchtgott-roth_great_debate-- Diana Furchtgott-Roth is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor. The opinions expressed are her own. --

Christmas Day in most cities will be serene, free of weekday traffic jams as workers enjoy a Thursday that is free of normal routines.  Many commuters wish that the free-flowing driving could last all year long. Traffic congestion wastes drivers' time and gasoline, pollutes, reduces employment, and pushes businesses and shoppers away from cities.

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