Showing posts with label Global. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Global. Show all posts

17 March 2017

*** Famines In The 21st Century? It's Not For Lack Of Food


Famine killed nearly 75 million people in the 20th century, but had virtually disappeared in recent decades. Now, suddenly, it is back. In late February a famine was declared in South Sudan, and warnings of famine have also recently been issued for Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen.

Moreover, in January the Famine Early Warning System (FEWSNET) - a U.S. government-funded organization created in 1985 specifically to predict famines and humanitarian emergencies - estimated that 70 million people affected by conflicts or disasters worldwide will need food assistance in 2017. This number has increased by nearly 50 percent in just the past two years.

What explains this rapid rise in the number of people who need emergency food assistance? And why, in an era of declining poverty and hunger worldwide, are we suddenly facing four potential famines in unconnected countries?
What are famines?

Famines are extreme events in which large populations lack adequate access to food, leading to widespread malnutrition and deaths. More of these deaths are caused by infectious disease than starvation because severe malnutrition compromises human immune systems. This makes people much more susceptible to killer diseases such as measles, or even common conditions such as diarrhea. Young children are especially vulnerable.

13 March 2017

The geopolitics of environmental issues

Giulio Boccaletti

Environmental degradation and natural-resource insecurity are undermining our ability to tackle some of the biggest global issues we face

Just as natural resource insecurity can cause displacement and vulnerability, effective natural resource management can support conflict resolution and sustainable development. Photo: Reuters

Much of the world seems to be on edge. The West’s relationship with Russia, the future of Nato (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), the Syrian civil war and refugees, rising right-wing populism, the impact of automation, and the UK’s impending departure from the European Union: All these topics—and more—have roiled public debate worldwide. But one issue—one might say the most significant of them all—is being ignored or pushed aside: the environment.

That was the case at this year’s annual meeting of the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland. Beyond a mention of the Paris climate agreement by Chinese President Xi Jinping, topics like climate change and sustainable development didn’t even make it to the main stage. Instead, they were relegated to side meetings that rarely seemed to intersect with current political and economic events.

10 March 2017

Getting to the root causes of antimicrobial resistance

Laura H. Kahn

The global rise in resistance to antibiotics is threatening the foundation of modern medicine. Just as the invention of penicillin and other antibiotics transformed health care in the 20th century, today, waning effectiveness means that at least 23,000 Americans die each year from drug-resistant bacteria. Soon, therapies we take for granted like elective surgery, cancer treatments, and the immunosuppressants that enable organ transplants could become too dangerous because of the risk of infection. Simple cuts could become fatal, just as they often were before antibiotics revolutionized medical care. In 2016 the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance—a report commissioned by then-British Prime Minister David Cameron—estimated that by 2050, 10 million lives would be lost each year globally due to antimicrobial-resistant infections, cumulatively costing 100 trillion US dollars. 

Considering the urgency of the problem, we understand remarkably little about the causes of antimicrobial resistance. Rounds of finger-pointing, in which doctors blame the problem on overuse of antibiotics in agriculture and farmers blame overuse in medicine, have done little to shed light. Rapid scientific advances, though, are giving us hints on how to get to the root causes. They suggest we need a “One Health” approach: That is, we can only understand—and ultimately stop—antimicrobial resistance by looking at human, animal, and environmental health together. When these three areas of study fail to share and communicate, we can’t see the whole picture.

9 March 2017

Andrey Kortunov: From Post-Modernism to Neo-Modernism, or Recalling the Future

Andrey Kortunov

Post-Modernism has failed for many reasons, among them its complete disrespect for legality, morality, the public interest at large, and reality. Neo-Modernism is emergent, and is characterized by four tenets: nationalism, transactionalism, holism, and historicism. Lacking within neo-modernism is a strategic construct for creating sustainable peace & prosperity within and among nations.

It is common knowledge that the concept of post-modernism came into international relations lexicon from the French philosophy of the 1970s-1980s. Shortly before the end of the last great rise of French intellectual universalism, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Louis Althusser, Jacques Lacan and other founders and opponents of post-structuralism formulated the basic characteristics of post-modernism as an integral sociological and historical interpretation of the modern world.

Most often cited are four of them. The first one is agnosticism that claims that truth is relative and is no more than a generally accepted view rather than a reflection of objective reality. The second one is pragmatism, which holds that the only unquestionable value is success, and success is measured solely by material achievements of individuals or their groups. The third one is eclecticism that maintains that in order to succeed an individual and society randomly blend conflicting principles, strategies and behavioral models. The fourth one is anarcho-democracy, which states that the combined effect of agnosticism, pragmatism and eclecticism consistently destroys the legitimacy of any social and political hierarchy by opposing it with a completely free “atomized” personality.

A World Without Borders

By Nathan Smith

Across the West today, a rising populist right is blaming established elites for letting in too many immigrants. The immigrants, the populists complain, lower wages, dilute the local culture, and pose a threat to national security. But even as anti-immigrant sentiment gains ground, a small but growing band of open borders advocates is reaching the opposite conclusion: Western elites aren’t letting in too many immigrants—they are letting in too few. These advocates, including the author, call for a regime of nearly complete freedom of migration worldwide, with rare exceptions for preventing terrorism or the spread of contagious disease. Borders would still exist in such a world, but as jurisdictional boundaries rather than as barriers to human movement. Ending migration controls in this way would increase liberty, reduce global poverty, and accelerate economic growth. But more fundamentally, it would challenge the right of governments to regulate migration on the arbitrary grounds of sovereignty. 

ANCIENT LIBERTIES

The open borders position may sound new and radical, but it is simply a call for the return of lost liberties. When the Statue of Liberty was erected in 1886, most of the world’s borders could be freely crossed without passports. Passport requirements had sometimes existed before and were still in place in backward tsarist Russia, but the more liberal governments of advanced European nations regulated migration, as modern democracies regulate speech, only rather lightly and in exceptional cases, if at all. Comprehensive restrictions on international movement, which almost everyone today regards as a normal and necessary government function, are really an innovation of the twentieth century, which emerged as liberalism gave way to nationalism and socialism in the wake of World War I. Although the reasons for border control were often explicitly racist—such as the national origins quotas of the 1924 U.S. Immigration Act—the restrictions were also motivated by bona fide national security concerns, as well as a desire to protect native wages and welfare states from immigrant competition and foreign dependents.The open borders position may sound new and radical, but it is simply a call for the return of lost liberties.

7 March 2017

*** Nationalism and Liberal Democracy

Friedman's Weekly 
By George Friedman 

Tension between nationalism and liberal democracy is not what is haunting us today.

Nationalism is rising in the Western world, and many view it as the enemy of liberal democracy. The basis of this view is not unreasonable, as European wars fought from 1914 to 1945 were among the most barbaric in history. Those wars were fought between nations, many of which had rejected the principles of liberal democracy. Some saw the proliferation of nations as causing a rise in tyrannies, destruction of liberal democracies, and a war fought to recover liberal democracy in Europe. The view that Europe’s wars originated in nationalism became common, along with the belief that nationalism gave rise to fascism, and that the preservation of liberal democracy required nationalism’s suppression.

From this, the European Union emerged as a moral project, along with the idea that a re-emergence of nationalism would return Europe and Euro-American civilization back to barbarism. Historically, that may be a persuasive argument. But it fails to understand that nationalism – however distorted it might become – is the root of liberal democracy, not only historically, but also morally. The two concepts are intellectually inseparable.

Liberal democracy as a political doctrine arose in the 18th century as a challenge to monarchy. At the time, monarchies were based on the idea that kings and emperors had a divine right to rule. Maps of 18th century Europe, and even before, show the outcomes of this approach. The holdings of a monarch or lesser nobility were built by war, money and marriage, and the subjects likely consisted of many nations. Many nations, in turn, were divided between the different monarchies. Therefore, kingdoms and nations did not necessarily coincide, and regimes were not connected to the people, neither in theory nor in practice.

2 March 2017

Infographic: Here’s How the Global GDP Is Divvied Up

By Robbie Gramer


The World Bank this month released new numbers on the state of the world economy, and the numbers tell an interesting story.

The United States still dominates the global economy, accounting for nearly a quarter of the world’s GDP, which the World Bank estimates to be $74.1 trillion in total. For all the talk of China overtaking the United States as the world’s economic juggernaut, Asia’s economic giant lags 10 percentage points behind — 14.84 percent of the world’s economy compared with the United States’ 24.32 percent. 

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24 February 2017

Restoring Faith in Globalization

CARL BILDT

MUNICH – I must confess that I am a firm believer in the benefits of globalization. To my mind, the gradual interlinking of regions, countries, and people is the most profoundly positive development of our time.

But a populist has now assumed the United States presidency by campaigning on a platform of stark economic nationalism and protectionism. And in many countries, public discourse is dominated by talk of globalization’s alleged “losers,” and the perceived need for new policies to stem the rise of populist discontent.

When I was born, the world’s population was 2.5 billion. I vividly recall a time in my life when many people feared that starvation would soon run rampant, gaps between the rich and poor would grow ever wider, and everything would eventually come crashing down.

We now live in a world with 7.5 billion people, and yet the share of people living in absolute poverty has declined rapidly, while the gap between rich and poor countries has steadily closed. Around the world, average life expectancy has increased from 48 to 71 years – albeit with significant differences between countries – and overall per capita income has grown by 500%.

Just looking back at the last 25 years, one could argue that humanity has had its best quarter-century ever. Since 1990, the share of people living in extreme poverty in the developing world has fallen from 47% to 14%, and child mortality – a critical indicator – has been halved. The world has never seen anything like this before.

16 February 2017

Adapting to the New Globalization

LAURA TYSON

BERKELEY – Around the world, countries are rethinking the terms of engagement in global trade. This is not all bad; in fact, acknowledgement of globalization’s disruptive effects on millions of advanced-economy workers is long overdue. But new trade policies must be based on a clear-eyed understanding of how globalization is evolving, not on a backward-looking vision based on the last 30 years.

Globalization has done the world a lot of good. Research from the McKinsey Global Institute shows that, thanks to global flows of goods, services, finance, data, and people, world GDP is more than 10% higher – some $7.8 trillion in 2014 alone – than it would have been had economies remained closed.

More interconnected countries capture the largest share of this added value. For example, the United States, which ranks third among 195 countries on MGI’s Connectedness Index, has done rather well. Emerging-market economies have also reaped major gains, using export-oriented industrialization as a springboard for rapid growth.

Yet, even as globalization has narrowed inequality among countries, it has aggravated income inequality within them. From 1998 to 2008, the middle class in advanced economies experienced no income growth, while incomes soared by nearly 70% for those at the top of the global income distribution. Top earners in the US, accounting for half of the global top 1%, reaped a significant share of globalization’s benefits.

13 February 2017

New Threat Realities and Deterrence Requirements

By Keith B. Payne

Adapted from remarks at the “Strategic Weapons in the 21st Century” Conference, Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, Washington, DC, January 26, 2017

Dr. Keith B. Payne is a co-founder of the National Institute for Public Policy, the director of the Graduate School of Defense and Strategic Studies at Missouri State University and a former deputy assistant secretary of defense.

The SW-21 conference sponsors have asked multiple worthy and overarching questions. But given the time available, we must narrow the aperture for our respective remarks. In doing so, I would like to discuss two of these overarching questions briefly: 

First: What are the changes in the security environment posed by regional powers? 

Second, and, correspondingly: What do these changes suggest regarding the possibility of new requirements? 

Most of my remarks along these lines today focus on Russia and deterrence policy considerations because that has been the focus of my work for decades. But there are important parallels with regard to US-Chinese relations that we can discuss as well.

Previous speakers have focused on the first question regarding changes in the security environment. So I will offer a brief, up-front conclusion in this regard: the world has become a much more dangerous place since the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) and Western security policies and practices need to adjust to this new reality.

Until recently, that conclusion would have been deemed far-fetched. Indeed, a basic presumption underlying past NPRs was of an increasingly benign world order in which nuclear weapons would play a declining role in terms of both the threat they pose and their security value. The post-Cold War world supposedly was moving beyond such methods and concerns. Nuclear deterrence was deemed decreasingly relevant to US relations with Russia and China, and irrelevant to the most serious threat, nuclear terrorism.

10 February 2017

*** Backing Into World War III

BY ROBERT KAGAN

Think of two significant trend lines in the world today. One is the increasing ambition and activism of the two great revisionist powers, Russia and China. The other is the declining confidence, capacity, and will of the democratic world, and especially of the United States, to maintain the dominant position it has held in the international system since 1945. As those two lines move closer, as the declining will and capacity of the United States and its allies to maintain the present world order meet the increasing desire and capacity of the revisionist powers to change it, we will reach the moment at which the existing order collapses and the world descends into a phase of brutal anarchy, as it has three times in the past two centuries. The cost of that descent, in lives and treasure, in lost freedoms and lost hope, will be staggering.

Where exactly we are in this classic scenario today, how close the trend lines are to that intersection point is, as always, impossible to know. Are we three years away from a global crisis, or 15?

Americans tend to take the fundamental stability of the international order for granted, even while complaining about the burden the United States carries in preserving that stability. History shows that world orders do collapse, however, and when they do it is often unexpected, rapid, and violent. The late 18th century was the high point of the Enlightenment in Europe, before the continent fell suddenly into the abyss of the Napoleonic Wars. In the first decade of the 20th century, the world’s smartest minds predicted an end to great-power conflict as revolutions in communication and transportation knit economies and people closer together. The most devastating war in history came four years later. The apparent calm of the postwar 1920s became the crisis-ridden 1930s and then another world war. Where exactly we are in this classic scenario today, how close the trend lines are to that intersection point is, as always, impossible to know. Are we three years away from a global crisis, or 15? That we are somewhere on that path, however, is unmistakable.

*** 13 International Relations Buzzwords That Need to Get Taken to the Woodshed

BY RICHARD N. HAASS

The renowned Prussian military historian and analyst Carl von Clausewitz is widely held to be the author of the phrase “the fog of war,” although what he actually wrote was: “War is the realm of uncertainty; three quarters of the factors on which action in war is based are wrapped in a fog of greater or lesser uncertainty.”

There was nothing foggy about Clausewitz’s prose, however, which remains a model of clarity. It is thus ironic that so many who speak and write about similar matters operate in a fog largely of their own making. There is little correlation between length and clarity; fog can permeate a tweet just as easily as a thesis. 

Many of the words and terms common to conversations and debates over foreign policy and international relations actually mean little

Many of the words and terms common to conversations and debates over foreign policy and international relations actually mean little; all too many obscure more than they illuminate. So in the cause of sharper thinking and better policy, here is my baker’s dozen of language we would do better without.

Global citizen: People frequently describe themselves as global citizens or call on others to be just that. Citizenship, however, is a national concept, one tied to sovereignty. There is no such thing as a global citizen, despite what the Davos set might profess or worse yet aspire to. More useful would be calls for people to be better informed about global affairs, something that has the potential to make them better citizens of their own country, which in turn could lead to better policy and might even make the world a better place.

8 February 2017

*** Stratfor looks at the stupidity and evil of collective punishment

Summary: This essay by Strafor comes at a critical time for America, reminding us about the folly and evil of collective punishment. Asides from the bad ethics, demagogues use allegations of collective to arouse public passions for their own political gain — which distracts us from focusing on our actual enemies.

By Anisa Mehdi at Stratfor, 4 February 2017.


In the winter of 1917, the French freighter Mont Blanc, laden with picric acid and TNT destined for the European war effort, headed into the great harbor of Halifax to join a convoy bound for Bordeaux. A Norwegian ship, the Imo, was leaving Halifax at the same time, destined for New York. Its mission was to bring food and supplies back to people in German-occupied Belgium and northern France.

On that cold December day, it should have been an ordinary passing of two ships. But as a result of miscommunication, navigational protocols were violated. Seamen, civilians and members of the Royal Naval College of Canada looked on in horror as the Mont Blanc and the Imo collided. The impact caused a fire on the French ship that eventually caused its explosive payload to ignite. For Haligonians, all hell broke loose. As well as destroying much of the harbor, the resulting blast killed almost 2,000 people. The captain of the HMCS Acadia, located 15 miles (24 kilometers) outside of Halifax that day, estimated the smoke rising from the seat of the explosion to be more than 2 miles high.

The Halifax disaster {Wikipedia} was the largest man-made explosion on Earth until World War II, when the United States’ atom bombs destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

The small German population of Nova Scotia came under attack as the slogan “Place the Blame” riled people toward vengeance. Because who else could be responsible for the calamity besides the Kaiser? And weren’t all Germans, therefore, collectively culpable? At first, reports emerged of rampaging crowds stoning neighbors with German-sounding names. But less than a week after the explosion, before the fires were even put out or all the bodies recovered, let alone buried, the Canadian military ordered the arrest of every German citizen.

6 February 2017

Retreat from globalisation will destabilise the world economy


Source Link
Mohamed El-Erian

Hostility in the UK and US to structures such as the EU, World Bank and IMF will lead to increasing instability for everyone 

Shaken up: Theresa May and Donald Trump have both voiced hostility to regional trading structures. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

The retreat of the advanced economies from the global economy – and, in the case of the UK, from regional trading arrangements – has received a lot of attention lately. At a time when the global economy’s underlying structures are under strain, this could have far-reaching consequences.

Whether by choice or necessity, the vast majority of the world’s economies are part of a multilateral system that gives their counterparts in the advanced world – especially the US and Europe – enormous privileges. Three stand out.

First, because they issue the world’s main reserve currencies, the advanced economies get to exchange bits of paper that they printed for goods and services produced by others. Second, for most global investors, these economies’ bonds are a quasi-automatic component of portfolio allocations, so their governments’ budget deficits are financed in part by other countries’ savings. 


All the day’s economic and financial news, as president Trump’s ban on citizens from seven countries entering the US worries investors

The advanced economies’ final key advantage is voting power and representation. They command either veto power or a blocking minority in the Bretton Woods institutions (the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank), which gives them a disproportionate influence on the rules and practices that govern the international economic and monetary system. And, given their historical dominance of these organisations, their nationals are de facto assured the top positions.

These privileges don’t come for free – at least they shouldn’t. In exchange, the advanced economies are supposed to fulfil certain responsibilities that help ensure the system’s functioning and stability. But recent developments have cast doubts on whether the advanced economies are able to hold up their end of this bargain.

Perhaps the most obvious example is the 2008 global financial crisis. The result of excessive risk-taking and lax regulation in the advanced economies, the financial system’s near-meltdown disrupted global trade, threw millions into unemployment, and almost tipped the world into a multi-year depression.

But there have been other lapses, too. For example, political obstacles to comprehensive economic policymaking in many advanced economies have undermined the implementation of structural reforms and responsive fiscal policies in recent years, holding back business investment, undermining productivity growth, worsening inequality, and threatening future potential growth.

5 February 2017

A Diplomat’s Proper Channel of Dissent


Source Link
By PAUL D. WOLFOWITZ

Scores of State Department employees are reported to be planning to protest the Trump administration’s executive order on immigration. CreditWin McNamee/Getty Images

Organizations, particularly large ones, have a tendency to engage in group think. They need to make an extra effort to listen to dissenting views to ensure that the organization is pursuing the right goals.

The Trump administration’s new immigration policy would have benefited from a review and comment period to solicit dissenting views before a final decision. Then they might have heard from experts like Gen. John Allen and Michael O’Hanlon about the devastating consequences of the policy in the fight against the Islamic State, particularly in Iraq and Syria, and hopefully would have modified the policy accordingly.

Instead, President Trump’s inner circle is confronted with a wave of dissent, including the reported intention of scores of Foreign Service officers to protest the new policy through the State Department’s official “dissent channel.” This presents the administration and the entire government with the question of how to balance the need for discipline for organizations to function effectively with the importance of open debate in determining the organization’s goals.

In the military, discipline that guarantees orders will be followed can also protect dissent, because there is a clear line between executing a lawful order and expressing an opinion about it.

But diplomats are in a more awkward position than soldiers because so much of their job involves explaining and defending government policy. The State Department created its dissent channel in 1971 as a response to concerns that contrary opinions were suppressed or ignored during the Vietnam War. It provides American diplomats with a means to provide written submissions expressing disagreement with policies. Those submissions are supposed to be circulated among the most senior officials in the department, and the writers are supposed to be protected from retaliation.

31 January 2017

** Mikhail Gorbachev: 'It All Looks as if the World Is Preparing for War'

Mikhail Gorbachev

The former head of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev speaks during a ceremony to hand over three paintings by Russian artists to the Museum of Russian Impressionism in Moscow, on Dec. 16, 2016. Vasily Maximov—AFP/Getty Images

Mikhail Gorbachev was the president of the Soviet Union and is the author of The New Russia

The world today is overwhelmed with problems. Policymakers seem to be confused and at a loss. 

But no problem is more urgent today than the militarization of politics and the new arms race. Stopping and reversing this ruinous race must be our top priority. 

The current situation is too dangerous. 

More troops, tanks and armored personnel carriers are being brought to Europe. NATO and Russian forces and weapons that used to be deployed at a distance are now placed closer to each other, as if to shoot point-blank. 

While state budgets are struggling to fund people’s essential social needs, military spending is growing. Money is easily found for sophisticated weapons whose destructive power is comparable to that of the weapons of mass destruction; for submarines whose single salvo is capable of devastating half a continent; for missile defense systems that undermine strategic stability. 

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27 January 2017

UN urges global move to meat and dairy-free diet


Lesser consumption of animal products is necessary to save the world from the worst impacts of climate change, UN report says 

An cattle ranch in Mato Grosso, Brazil. The UN says agriculture is on a par with fossil fuel consumption because both rise rapidly with increased economic growth. Photograph: Daniel Beltra/Greenpeace


A global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world from hunger, fuel poverty and the worst impacts of climate change, a UN report said today.

As the global population surges towards a predicted 9.1 billion people by 2050, western tastes for diets rich in meat and dairy products are unsustainable, says the report from United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) international panel of sustainable resource management.

It says: “Impacts from agriculture are expected to increase substantially due to population growth increasing consumption of animal products. Unlike fossil fuels, it is difficult to look for alternatives: people have to eat. A substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products.”

Professor Edgar Hertwich, the lead author of the report, said: “Animal products cause more damage than [producing] construction minerals such as sand or cement, plastics or metals. Biomass and crops for animals are as damaging as [burning] fossil fuels.”

The recommendation follows advice last year that a vegetarian diet was better for the planet from Lord Nicholas Stern, former adviser to the Labour government on the economics of climate change. Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has also urged people to observe one meat-free day a week to curb carbon emissions.

The panel of experts ranked products, resources, economic activities and transport according to their environmental impacts. Agriculture was on a par with fossil fuel consumption because both rise rapidly with increased economic growth, they said.

World Order 2.0

RICHARD N. HAASS

Richard N. Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, previously served as Director of Policy Planning for the US State Department (2001-2003), and was President George W. Bush's special envoy to Northern Ireland and Coordinator for the Future of Afghanistan. He is the author of 

NEW YORK – For nearly four centuries, since the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 ended the Thirty Years’ War in Europe, the concept of sovereignty – the right of countries to an independent existence and autonomy – has formed the core of the international order. And for good reason: as we have seen in century after century, including the current one, a world in which borders are forcibly violated is a world of instability and conflict.

But, in a globalized world, a global operating system premised solely on respect for sovereignty – call it World Order 1.0 – has become increasingly inadequate. Little stays local anymore. Just about anyone and anything, from tourists, terrorists, and refugees to e-mails, diseases, dollars, and greenhouse gases, can reach almost anywhere. The result is that what goes on inside a country can no longer be the concern of that country alone. Today’s realities call for an updated operating system—World Order 2.0 – based on “sovereign obligation,” the notion that sovereign states have not just rights but also obligations to others.

A new international order will also require an expanded set of norms and arrangements, beginning with an agreed-upon basis for statehood. Existing governments would agree to consider bids for statehood only in cases where there was a historical justification, a compelling rationale, and popular support, and where the proposed new entity is viable.

World Order 2.0 must also include prohibitions on carrying out or in any way supporting terrorism. More controversially, it must include strengthened norms proscribing the spread or use of weapons of mass destruction. As it stands, while the world tends to agree on constraining proliferation by limiting countries’ access to the relevant technology and material, the consensus often breaks down once proliferation has occurred. This should become a topic of discussion at bilateral and multilateral meetings, not because it would lead to a formal agreement, but because it would focus attention on applying stringent sanctions or undertaking military action, which could then reduce the odds of proliferation.

24 January 2017

Why 2017 May Be the Best Year Ever


Nicholas Kristof

A private effort in Madagascar helps educate children from the streets. CreditHeidi Yanulis

There’s a broad consensus that the world is falling apart, with every headline reminding us that life is getting worse.

Except that it isn’t. In fact, by some important metrics, 2016 was the best year in the history of humanity. And 2017 will probably be better still.

How can this be? I’m as appalled as anyone by the election of Donald Trump, the bloodshed in Syria, and so on. But while I fear what Trump will do to America and the world, and I applaud those standing up to him, the Trump administration isn’t the most important thing going on. Here, take my quiz:

On any given day, the number of people worldwide living in extreme poverty:

A.) Rises by 5,000, because of climate change, food shortages and endemic corruption.

B.) Stays about the same.

C.) Drops by 250,000.

Polls show that about 9 out of 10 Americans believe that global poverty has worsened or stayed the same. But in fact, the correct answer is C. Every day, an average of about a quarter-million people worldwide graduate from extreme poverty, according to World Bank figures.

23 January 2017

How Do Imports Affect Manufacturing Jobs?

from the St Louis Fed
-- this post authored by David Andolfatto
One popular opinion is that competition from imports has decreased employment in the U.S. manufacturing sector. While manufacturing employment has declined as net exports have fallen, the data imply that trade is not the main cause. For example, a study by Michael Hicks and Srikant Devaraj reported that a negative trade deficit accounted for only about 13 percent of jobs lost in the sector. [1]
The U.S.’s counterparts in the Group of Seven2 have experienced a comparable secular decline in the share of total employment devoted to manufacturing. The Canadian experience, in particular, has been very similar to that of the U.S.

As seen in the figure below, the employment share in manufacturing in both the U.S. and Canada fell roughly in tandem from about 15 percent in 1996 to about 8 percent in 2016.


Just like in the U.S., the common view from the Canadian perspective is that the decline is due to increased foreign competition. Over the above sample period, more than 60 percent of Canadian trade in manufactures is with the U.S. If foreign competition is responsible for the decline in Canadian manufacturing employment, a telltale sign would be a decline in Canadian net exports of manufactures to the U.S.