By Rob Cox
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.
The 2014 campaign marks a departure: It is the first campaign in 50 years in which Democrats are relying on social issues, while economic issues seem to be helping Republicans.
I may be the one person who listens to the election news and thinks about Benjamin Harrison. You don’t remember him? President of the United States from 1888-1892? The scion of a political dynasty that yielded enough failed presidencies to make the Harrisons the Bushes of the 19th century? So why do I think of Harrison? Because this is an election year that centers on money.
Once upon a time, a candidate ran for president on the issue of competence. “This election isn’t about ideology,” he told the 1988 Democratic National Convention. “It’s about competence.”
Now that the Federal Reserve has brought its program of quantitative easing to a successful conclusion, while the French and German governments have ended their shadow-boxing over European budget “rules,” macroeconomic policy all over the world is entering a period of unusual stability and predictability. Rightly or wrongly, the main advanced economies have reached a settled view on their economic policy choices and are very unlikely to change these in the year or two ahead, whether they succeed or fail. It therefore seems appropriate to consider what we can learn from all the policy experiments conducted around the world since the 2008 crisis.
One of the themes that Russian President Vladimir Putin tried out to besmirch the Ukrainian revolt against pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovich earlier this year was that fascists and anti-Semites were behind the uprising. The protesters, he proclaimed, were revolting in both senses of the word: They had chased out an elected president (true) and their actions had allowed “anti-Semitic forces [to go] on a rampage” (not true).
The “konditorei” in Sankt Florian, Austria offers fine pastries and wonderful hot chocolate. It was the perfect location to interrupt a holiday for a bit of work. Over a slice of strudel, I spent a few minutes last week contemplating my colleague Andy Mukherjee’s well argued article about the danger robots pose for the modern economy. Looking around the bakery-cafe, I saw why Andy should be proven wrong.
When a senior U.S. official calls Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “chickens–t,” you know the Israeli-American relationship has reached a new low point. The putdown was reported in The Atlantic just days after the Israeli defense minister’s request to meet with U.S. national security officials was rebuffed. Adding insult to injury, the rebuff was leaked to the press. While the White House distanced itself somewhat from the mudslinging, it did not retract any of the more substantive claims about U.S. discontent with Netanyahu’s policies.
What if someone with a deadly and mysterious infectious disease arrived at one of the largest urban centers in the United States? Certainly, we would expect the White House to consult the finest scientific minds in the federal government, academia and medicine to develop the best, most evidence-based approach to the contagious crisis.