Archive for the ‘Topics’ Category

2
Jan

2014: Is This Latin America’s Big Year?

Written on January 2, 2014 by Waya Quiviger in Americas, International Development, News

The 1980s were unkind to Latin America. Surging drug violence, economic turmoil, and a staggering debt crisis all led to our southern neighbors’ “lost decade”. Yet since the 2000s, things have been looking—and going—up. In fact, thanks to its strong economic growth and growing international influence, 2014 has the potential to be Latin America’s best year yet.

Latin America’s economic growth will only increase in its upward trajectory in 2014, driven by countries such as Brazil, Chile and particularly Mexico. According to theU.N., “Based on promising signs of private consumption and manufacturing, the region will see [expected] growth rates of 3.6 in 2014 and 4.1 percent in 2015, according to World Economic Situation and Prospects 2014, a report that launches in January.” The U.N. Economic Commission on Latin America forecasts that Latin-American Economic development will be the highest of all global regions for 2014. Brazil is slowing down compared to its explosive performance in recent years, but still very strong. Brazilian finance minister Guido Mantega said in December that foreign direct investment continues to be robust and, according to the Wall Street Journal, “pointed to $8.3 billion in foreign direct investment posted in November as a strong signal investors continued to favor the country. In October, the figure was $5.4 billion.” Read more…

As published in the National Interest on December 30, 2013 http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz

31
Dec

The 16 Countries That Will Replace China

Written on December 31, 2013 by Waya Quiviger in Asia, International Development

China has become a metaphor. It represents a certain phase of economic development, which is driven by low wages, foreign appetite for investment and a chaotic and disorderly development, magnificent in scale but deeply flawed in many ways. Its magnificence spawned the flaws, and the flaws helped create the magnificence.

The arcs along which nations rise and fall vary in length and slope. China’s has been long, as far as these things go, lasting for more than 30 years. The country will continue to exist and perhaps prosper, but this era of Chinese development — pyramiding on low wages to conquer global markets — is ending simply because there are now other nations with even lower wages and other advantages. China will have to behave differently from the way it does now, and thus other countries are poised to take its place.

Reshaping International Order

Since the Industrial Revolution, there have always been countries where comparative advantage in international trade has been rooted in low wages and a large work force. If these countries can capitalize on their advantages, they can transform themselves dramatically. These transformations, in turn, reorganize global power structures. Karl Kautsky, a German socialist in the early 1900s, wrote: “Half a century ago, Germany was a miserable, insignificant country, if her strength is compared with that of the Britain of that time; Japan compared with Russia in the same way. Is it conceivable that in 10 or 20 years’ time the relative strength will have remained unchanged?” Lenin also saw these changes, viewing them as both progressive and eventually revolutionary. When Kautsky and Lenin described the world, they did so to change it. But the world proved difficult to change. (It is ironic that two of the four BRIC countries had been or still are Communist countries.) Read more…

George Friedman is chairman of Stratfor.

As published in the Real Clear World on July 30, 2013 http://www.realclearworld.com

26
Dec

Ten Elections to Watch in 2014

Written on December 26, 2013 by Waya Quiviger in Democracy & Human Rights

Voters line up in queue outside polling booth to cast vote during state assembly election in New Delhi

Two thousand and thirteen won’t go down in the history books as a banner year for globally significant elections. True, the election of Hassan Rouhani changed the tone in Tehran and possibly opened the door to a lasting diplomatic solution to the confrontation over Iran’s nuclear program. But the outcome of most of the elections held in 2013—and there were a lot of them—mattered primarily to the people who cast the ballots. In contrast, 2014 is shaping up as a year in which the choices voters make could reverberate well beyond their country’s borders. So for those of you eager to peer ahead, here are ten elections to watch for in 2014.

 

1. Afghanistan’s presidential election on Saturday, April 5. There is no shortage of reasons to be concerned about Afghanistan’s presidential election. Despite attempts to reform the electoral system after the 2009 election, the 2014 elections are likely to be plagued by corruption, lack of security, and voter fraud. President Hamid Karzai is constitutionally prevented from running for a third term. Who is likely to succeed him is unclear. The Independent Election Commission has disqualified sixteen of twenty-seven nominated candidates, leaving eleven on the approved candidate list. Potential frontrunners include 2009 candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai as well as Hamid Karzai’s older brother Qayum. However, the field remains wide open and includes several influential warlords. With international forces scheduled to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of next year and Taliban forces still powerful in many parts of the country, the new president faces a difficult future.

 

2. Iraq’s parliamentary election on Wednesday, April 30. Iraq’s democracy may not be exemplary, but it continues to plug along in the face deep political and sectarian divisions. Incumbent prime minister Nouri al-Maliki has his eyes set on a third term. That is a possibility now that the Iraqi Supreme Court has overturned a law that limited him to two. The bad news for Maliki is that the 2013 provincial elections didn’t go well for his coalition, State of Law. It now controls fewer than half of the provinces with Shiite majorities. Maliki has one thing going for him, however. Rival parties may decide that seeing him continue as prime minister is preferable to opting for a political transition that could increase instability. Sectarian violence is surging in Iraq to levels not seen since 2006-2007 before the U.S. “surge.” The future of Iraqi democracy will likely depend on whether Iraq’s leaders can check the actions of extremists on both sides of the country’s sectarian divide. Read more…

by James M. Lindsay

Published on December 10, 2013 in http://blogs.cfr.org

19
Dec

by Jeffrey Ball

Last month, in some strikingly straight talk, a Mideast oil minister publicly outed his region for a strategy it has long used to buy political peace: subsidizing people’s use of fossil fuels.

“What is really destroying us right now is subsidies,” Oman’s oil and gas minister, Mohammed bin Hamad al-Rumhy, told an energy conference in Abu Dhabi. With global energy prices rising, he warned, the Mideast no longer can afford to provide fossil fuel to its people at the bargain-basement rates it traditionally has ensured. “Our cars are getting bigger. Our consumption is getting bigger. And the price is almost free,” he said. “We simply need to raise the price of petrol and electricity.”

The Omani oilman was articulating what’s fast becoming an article of faith among countries that, when it comes to energy policy, can agree on little else: Fossil-fuel subsidies are economically and environmentally untenable and should be slashed. The cast of characters now championing this argument includes the Obama Administration, the International Monetary Fund, the International Energy Agency, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the governments of such developing countries as Brazil, China and Iran. According to IMF calculationsissued earlier this year, global fossil-fuel subsidies in 2011 cost $1.9 trillion — fully 2.5% of global gross domestic product — and the biggest single source of subsidies was the United States. Eliminating these subsidies globally, the IMF said, would cut energy-related carbon-dioxide emissions a whopping 13%. Read more…

 

As published in the New Republic on December 18, 2013 http://www.newrepublic.com

18
Dec

JapanJapan has announced a plan to increase defence spending and transform its military, in a move widely seen as aimed at China. But many on the left believe Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is using the threat from China to pursue his own nationalist dreams, reports the BBC’s Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Tokyo.

For a country that, according to its constitution, does not maintain any army, navy or air force, Japan spends an awful lot of money on defence. This year, it was about $60bn (£37bn, 44bn euros) or roughly the same as the UK or France. Of course, Japan does have a military – a large and modern one. But it was designed in the days of the Cold War to protect Japan against an invasion from the north, from Russia.

‘Stand up to China’

But over the last 10 years, China has transformed its military at an astonishing rate. Beijing’s defence budget has more than doubled to over $150bn a year.Today, China is launching new navy ships faster than any other country in the world. It is developing stealth fighter jets and drones, and of course it now has its own aircraft carrierRead more…

Published on December 17, 2013 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/

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