Friday, June 15, 2007

Cato Unbound, part deux

The Cato Unbound debate about All Politics Is Global continues with response essays:

1) Ann Florini, "Globalization Is Transformative."

2) Jeremy A. Rabkin, "While Great States Sleep."

3) Kal Raustiala, "Globalization and Global Governance."

My response to the critiques can be found here.

posted by Dan at 09:42 PM | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

The massive disincentive to blog about Israel/Palestine

The following is a typical e-mail I've received in the wake of posting about Norman Finkelstein:

Anyone questioning the intellectual scholarship of Mr. Finkelstein really needs help. to simply say that he is accomplished does not do service to his record of superior scholarship which is there for everyone to see. Were he not a critic of Zionism he would be feted from on high for his academic achievements. I was not surprised that a Catholic Priest made a mealy mouth decision not to grant tenure on such a political decision and then lied in my opinion making matters even more suspicious by saying that ouside influence had no...who makes up these lies? Father H.'s phone lines are still blazing with threats from ADL Mr. D., Foxman, considering the Blackmail that Zionism has put on the Catholic Church for their so-called non assistance to the Jews in peril and their perceived coziness with the Nazis during the second W.W. However the Zionist have no quarter from which to truly attack Finkelstein on and they are now in helter skelter mode drunkenly flailing at any thing that Finkelsteins, ala J. Carter. Finally for the record and for sometime now ANTI-SEMITISM has not intimidated the investigators or human beings from observing what Israel is doing in Palestine and condemning them for what it is, genocide. a legitimate personage has "pulled the covers" off that cat(Zionism/Racism)and Zionist apologist are schreeeching to high heaven at being exposed. Dan's bullshit piece about Finkelstein is just another attempt at cover. he admits that he dosen't know what he's talking about when it comes to Finkelstein. I suspect that he really does but has no response to the truth thats printable. If he believed that Finkelstein got a raw deal then he should have stated that instead of listing all the negatives in his text about Finkelstein which makes Dan suspect to the reader. Israels murderous policy of theft of land,lies,targeted killings,walls, racist highways,killing of international observers,and unjust occupation against the Palestinian(short list) People is an international crime in the exact same way that the German Administration under Adolph Hitler and what he did to European Jewry was a crime. Liars such as Dershowitz and loonies such as David Horowitz only expose the Israeli desperate attempt to promote transparent false propaganda. The arrogance of how one should criticize newish people what words one can say and not say is a first in the history of mankind and will not stand. And now comes Dan, with a kinder gentler "objective" detachment The People of the world are united in their condemnation of Zionist blackmail by accusatory designation and use of the term anti-semitism to try and stop the debate concerning the Palestinian genocide committed by Israel since 1948 and continuing. The truth will be told whether Zionist like the way it is told to them or not. The world must unite to bring all the mass killers from the U.S. and Israel to the world court of Justice for their mortal sins against humanity.

posted by Dan at 09:37 PM | Comments (20) | Trackbacks (0)

I want to believe the Zagats -- I really do

Nina and Tim Zagat have an op-ed in today's New York Tmes about why Chinese food in the United States is substandard. I should sympathize with their argument:

Twenty years ago, American perceptions of Asian food could be summed up in one word: “Chinese.” Since then, we have developed appetites for Korean, Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese fare. Yet while the quality of the restaurants that serve these cuisines, particularly Japanese, has soared in America, Chinese restaurants have stalled. For American diners, the Chinese restaurant experience is the same tired routine — unimaginative dishes served amid dated, pseudo-imperial décor — that we’ve known for years....

There is a historic explanation for the abysmal state of Chinese cuisine in the United States. Without access to key ingredients from their homeland, Chinese immigrants working on the Central Pacific Railroad in the 1860s improvised dishes like chow mein and chop suey that nobody back in their native land would have recognized. To please the naïve palates of 19th-century Americans, immigrant chefs used sweet, rich sauces to coat the food — a radical departure from the spicy, chili-based dishes served back home.

But today, getting ingredients is no longer an issue. Instead, the principal obstacle to improving Chinese fare here is the difficulty of getting visas for skilled workers since 9/11. Michael Tong, head of the Shun Lee restaurant group in New York, has said that opening a major Chinese restaurant in America is next to impossible because it can take years to get a team of chefs from China. Chinese restaurateur Alan Yau planned to open his first New York City restaurant last year but was derailed because he was unable to get visas for his chefs.

If Henry Kissinger could practice “Ping-Pong diplomacy,” perhaps Condoleezza Rice could try her hand at “dumpling diplomacy”? China and the United States should work together on a culinary visa program that makes it easier for Chinese chefs to come here.

Hmm.... reducing barriers to exchange, increasing globalization of cuisine... I should be on this proposal like white on rice.

Except that the Zagats' policy solution does not explain their policy conundrum. Immigration barriers should have a roughly equal effect on all Pacific Rim cuisines, not just China's. Why would it be the case that Chinese cuisine in the U.S. is particularly disadvantaged by vsa restrictions?

Three possibilities:

1) Because China has a larger internal market, there is more innovation and competition at home, leading to more frequent innovations. Without a reliable transmission mechanism (i.e., migrating chefs), Chinese cuisine in China will improve at a faster rate than in the U.S.A.

2) Law of averages. There are 41,000 Chinese restaurants in the U.S., but only 9,000 Japanese restaurants. If quality is a function of quantity, then the average Chinese restaurant will simply be of poorer quality than other cuisines.

3) Innovation in a different direction. As this Washington Post story from last year suggests, American restaurants tend to innovate by using new cooking styles to present more traditional foods. Indeed, as the Zagats observe, this tendency is strongest in cuisines that have been here for a while -- like Chinese. This roils devotees of "pure" national cuisine, but deights everyone else.

I'm willing to endorse more culinary trade as a matter of principle, but I'd still like a good explanation for this conundrum.

Take it away, Tyler Cowen!

posted by Dan at 09:06 AM | Comments (19) | Trackbacks (0)

This is my brain when it's cranky

Matthew Rojansky has a post at Across the Aisle on energy independence that caused me to bang my head against the wall in sheer frustration for a few moments.

Rojansky reacts to a DC panel on energy, the environment and national security at a Center for American Progress/Century Foundation conference. After all of the panelists politely point out that the goal of energy independence is neither possible not worthwhile. Rojansky replies:

Alright, I see their point. It’s not immediately clear that even the optimal combination of conservation and alternative energy technologies can keep pace with growing demands for energy, meaning we will continue to need energy imports to fuel the US economy. Cutting off foreign energy sources would, by that reasoning, make us less competitive, and more “isolated” in a negative sense.

But there’s another side to that coin.

Energy is a zero sum game. Unlike trading technologies or other complex goods, trading energy commodities does not create value. In fact, the immutable laws of physics dictate that transmission of oil, gas or any other store of potential energy costs more energy the farther it has to travel. At some point, in fact, you could expend more energy to transmit a gallon of gas than you could ever get out of that gallon, resulting in a net energy loss.

Thus, importing energy from abroad only works as long as that energy is both cheaper to extract and transport than it would be to generate here at home, and–here’s the real key–as long as the governments that control the resources are willing to sell them to us.

OK, to put this as simply as possible -- trading energy commodities creates value in the same way that trading any other kind of good creates value. The reason we import energy from other countries is that, as Rojansky observes, "is both cheaper to extract and transport than it would be to generate here at home." As a society, the U.S. gains value by having the market take resources that might have (inefficiently) gone into energy extraction and reallocating them into producing goods and services in which the United States has a comparative advantage (indeed, one of those goods and services might be, you know, a new innovative technique to more efficiently extract energy resources). Trade, in this sense, has the same effect as a technological innovation -- it widens the variety of efficient means through which a society can obtain goods.

Trading energy is not a zero sum game.

This doesn't mean policymakers should necessarily let the market operate in an unfettered manner. There are clear non-economic reasons to intervene (Rojansky argues that foreign suppliers might decide one day not to sell their energy to the U.S. That's a red herring, because any move in that direction hurts them more than us). Efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will likely require investment in alternative forms of energy. The political externalities of high energy prices are also undesirable. However, even factoring in the political externalities, the U.S. should not aim for energy independence. Why waste resources on eliminating that last drop of imported oil, when perfectly stable and friendly economies like Canada, Mexico, Norway, and Great Britain are willing to seel their energy to us?

Rjansky closes his post with the following critique:

The experts I cited above object to the energy independence slogan only because they perceive it as a red herring. They would argue it is a distraction from broader conservationist goals that will, in reality, have the same important impact in reducing our dependence on foreign oil, while combating global climate change by reducing carbon emissions. Certainly, climate change is very important, and a preoccupation with energy independence for security’s sake alone might lead us to transition to US-sourced fossil fuels, like coal and oil from ANWRA, that produce just as much harmful carbon as Middle Eastern oil and gas. But to call energy independence a bad idea destroys the only common ground in this debate, and hence the best chance for meaningful progress on both national security and climate change.

Policymaking is 10% reasoned argument and 90% political compromise, as I’ve been very recently reminded, and I am surprised that such an impressive group of Washington insiders would be so short-sighted about our national interest.

Policymaking is also a bit about being trapped by slogans. The slogan on this issue should be energy diversification, not energy independence. The former is both economically feasible and politically desirable. The latter is neither.

posted by Dan at 08:16 AM | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

A pop quiz for Senators Baucus, Graham, Grassley, and Schumer

The Financial Times' Eoin Callan, Krishna Guha, and Richard McGregor report on a bipartisan effort to introduce a bill aimed at punishing China for currency manipulation:

China came under increased pressure to revalue its currency on Wednesday as a bipartisan group of US senators introduced legislation designed to push the Bush administration towards a full-blown trade dispute with Beijing.

The bill would send exchange rate disputes to the World Trade Organisation by treating them as unfair export subsidies and includes a range of sanctions. The move will increase pressure on the White House to toughen its stance on Beijing.

Lawmakers say China’s fixed exchange rate subsidises its exports and has contributed to a record annual bilateral US trade deficit of $233bn (£118bn)....

The legislation has gathered momentum in the Senate and would allow US companies to appeal for anti-dumping duties on Chinese goods based on the distorted value of the currency.

The bill was introduced by Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate finance committee, and co-sponsored by Charles Grassley, ranking Republican on the committee. It is also backed by Charles Schumer and Lindsey Graham, who previously proposed a unilateral 27.5 per cent US tariff on Chinese goods that would have violated WTO rules. A tougher version of the bill is being prepared by a bipartisan group in the House of Representatives.

Mr Schumer said: “This breakthrough proposal is like nothing else because it’s tough, wide-reaching and WTO-compliant. The previous legislation got China’s attention; the purpose of this legislation is to force change.”

David Christy, a lawyer at Miller and Chevalier, said any attempt by the US to apply anti-dumping duties against Chinese goods based on the value of the country’s currency could fall foul of WTO rules.

The US Treasury, meanwhile, again shied away from branding Beijing a currency manipulator in its semi-annual currency report to Congress.

Meanwhile, Chris Nelson reports on how hearings on the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement went earlier this week. Nelson is usually respectful in his language, so this passage is particularly telling:
Deputy USTR Karan Bhatia and [Assistant Secretary of State] Chris Hill spent the morning being whipped, insulted, and generally abused, on a bipartisan basis, by the House Foreign Affairs' subcommittee on trade and terrorism - an interesting combination of jurisdictions.

If this trend continues, and if the Administration cannot organize a fact-based presentation which manages to offset the emotional, fundamentally fact-bereft bombs being thrown, KORUS is a dead letter....

The Members came armed to the teeth with attack questions prepared by the Auto Caucus, and Chairman Brad Sherman let them make their opening statements unedited for the first 47 minutes.

Bhatia and Hill were then given 5 minutes - timed to the milisecond - to summarize their testimonies. So absurdly out of balance was the process that Sherman actually banged his gavel to interrupt Bhatia's testimony as it sought to answer the key auto questions already thrown at him.

Hill had on the table with him a copy of the book "The Power of Faith and Fantasy", and one suspects it took all his diplomatic gravitas to refrain from flinging it at Manzullo, when he was bitterly insulted for the sin of helping Chrysler organize a display of certain products on his embassy residence's lawn, while serving as US Ambassador in Seoul....

The impassioned speeches also offered brilliant insights such that the Administration's claims for good jobs being created by FTA's could not possibly be true, because when you have a trade deficit, that means there has to be a big job loss.

We're not making this up. In fact, on one level, this hearing was an insult to the intelligence of Congres.

However, on the political level, this hearing was serious as a heart-attack, as it shows that until or unless the US business interests which would benefit from KORUS get organized and step foward - services, banking and investments, etc. - that the Auto Caucus can win by bullying and the Big Lie.

And in fairness to the Members who unwittingly embarrassed themselves this morning, they are at least honestly reflecting the pervasive angst over globalization which political America is wrestling with these days.

Clearly, Congress is upset about U.S. trade policy. And when congressmen are upset, stupid policies usally follow.

Here's a multiple-choice question to the proposers of the new China bill:

The American economy is experiencing rising interest rates and worries about rising inflation. Neither of these trends bodes well for average Americans.

What's the best way for Congress to exacerbate this trend?

A) Subpoenaing White House aides.

B) Getting mired down over earmark reform.

C) Fret about Congress' low standing in public opinion.

D) Raise the price and increase uncertainty of import flows?

I'm sure Chuck Schumer, eminent economist, will figure out the correct answer.

Meanwhile, James Pethokoukis worries that Congress is partying like it's 1929.

posted by Dan at 08:54 AM | Comments (8) | Trackbacks (0)

My soft spot for the Stassenites

Over at Slate, John Dickerson has story that crops up every four years -- the indefatigable, perennial and completely obscure presidential candidate:

While covering the Republican and Democratic debates last week, I thought I might have a shot at eating a late breakfast at the Merrimack candidate-free. John Cox, the Republican superlongshot, has an office above the restaurant, but I knew he was away, trying to wangle his way into the Republican debate. So, I knew I wouldn't run into him. I thought I was in the clear. I sprinted toward the door, then slowed down briefly to pull the handle. "Are you a reporter?" asked a man standing on the sidewalk. He was typing on a laptop he'd perched on one of the newspaper machines. Busted.

His name was Robert Haines, and he was running for the GOP nomination. He'd been shaking hands on the corner since early in the morning. "I usually get the first spot," he said, pointing to his maroon Mazda 626. In the window was a small laminated sign that read, "Robert Haines for President." He explained his parking strategy. "In the first spot people can see the side of your car from the road. These other candidates wouldn't know something like this, but I know the ins and outs. I know what it takes. I've been running here since 1992." Haines once lived in Denver but moved to New Hampshire with his family so that he could get pole position....

Haines didn't "want to get into" what he does when he's not running for president but stressed that he has a master's degree in applied solar energy and other educational qualifications that made him an expert on energy issues. A social and fiscal conservative, he opposes amnesty and—surprise—favors a strong national defense. He objects to all presidents named George Bush. He even ran against the current president in the 2004 Republican primaries, when most of us in the media thought Bush ran unopposed. "I came in fifth in the 2004 New Hampshire primary," he said, taking off his sunglasses to wipe them. (He got 579 votes. I looked it up.) "These other candidates didn't have the guts to run. You follow me?" He finished a lot of sentences with this question.

I find something unbelievably charming about the Harold Stassens of the world, but I honestly don't know why. In theory, these kind of people should repel me. If you think about it, what's endearing about a guy whose ego is so out of proportion to reality that he thinks he should be president?

I think what I find endearing is that, deep down, these guys know their odds and yet they persist anyway, election cycle after election cycle. That requires a mixture of optimism, faith in one's abilities, and partial self-delusion that is quintissentially American.

posted by Dan at 08:37 AM | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

How's the economy going, Mahmoud?

The Financial Times' Najmeh Bozorgmehr and Gareth Smyth report that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, if left to his own devices, will succeed in running the Iranian economy into the ground:

Some 60 economists this week wrote to Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad criticising his government for putting “short-term welfare above long-term sustainable development”.

Almost half way through his first four-year term, the letter underlines the acute dilemmas faced by the president in delivering short-term welfare promises as he manoeuvres to bolster political support.

The government’s indecision over two major issues – the price of petrol and bank lending rates – is a particular source of confusion.

More than three weeks after the lapse of the original date for petrol rationing – designed to curb a $5bn (€3.75bn, £2.5bn) bill for importing 35m of the 75m litres Iran consumes daily – the government is still groping its way around any decision it fears might be unpopular. Officials have this week made differing statements over when and how rationing – which was to begin tomorrow – will start....

Private bankers wrote to the economy minister last week demanding a freeze on loan rates to “make survival of private banks possible”.

But even with inflation officially at 13.6 per cent last year, Mr Ahmadi-Nejad is battling with the central bank over his insistence on a 12 per cent lending rate, down from the current 14 per cent in state-owned and 17 per cent in private banks. The Guardian Council, a constitution watchdog, is due to rule this week on a compromise.

“What the government describes as economic policies do not match any professionally-known theories, but are rather populist political policies,” said Mohammad Tabibian, former deputy head of the Management and Planning Organisation, a cross-governmental co-ordination body....

Many observers doubt official figures of 14 per cent inflation and 12 per cent unemployment. One economist told the FT that inflation was above 20 per cent, while unemployment was 25 per cent among university graduates.

A depressing parlor game to play: which economy will implode the fastest, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, or Iran?

The smart money would have to be Zimbabwe, but don't underestimate the economic incompetence of either Hugo Chavez or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

UPDATE: Congatulations to Venezuela and Zimbabwe for making this list.

posted by Dan at 10:49 PM | Comments (9) | Trackbacks (1)

There's something about Putin

The last time I was in Europe, reliable sources told me an interesting tale.

Angela Merkel apparently has a fear of dogs. Vladimir Putin is aware of this fact. Therefore, whenever Putin meets with Merkel in Moscow, he makes sure his pet dogs are in the room. [UPDATE: Foreign Policy's Blake Hounshell confirms this tale.]

Sound absurd? Consider that Putin has had some odd moments in his personal interactions with Westerners. There was the day he walked away with the Super Bowl ring, and of course the "I was able to get a sense of his soul" moment with George W. Bush.

All of this pales, however, before Putin's effect on new French President Nikolas Sarkozy. After a lunch with Putin, Sarkozy gave a press conference. The opening of it can be seen here:

For non-French speakers, here's the gist of it:
reporter: I would like to show you the beginning of the press conference held by french president Nicolas Sarkozy at the end of the summit. He just had lunch with the russian president Vladimir Putin and it seems that he had more to drink than water.

Sarkozy: Ladies ad Gentlemen, I apologize for my lateness, dued to the length (smiles) of the dialogue I just had with Mr Putin (smiles again)(pause). How do you want to procced, do I answer your questions? So have you got any question? (smiles). Go ahead. Yes, yes. Well, um.

Still, give Sarkozy credit -- at least the man did not lose his watch.

posted by Dan at 01:35 PM | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)

Regarding Norman Finkelstein

I've acquired a passing interest in Chicago-based professors of political science who are denied tenure, so I've been reading up on DePaul's decision to reject Norman Finkelstein's tenure case.

Here's what I think I think....

1) Finkelstein and his supporters are crying "outside interference" in the form of Alan Dershowitz's jihad against Finkelstein. As someone who has been on the receiving end of a tenure denial, and been told by many, many people that idiotic reason X must be the key explanatory factor, I have to take this kind of charge with a whopping grain of salt. The decision-making process looks a bit odd (more on this below), but the official DePaul letter by President Dennis Holtschneider to Finkelstein explicitly stated that:
I am well aware of the outside interest in this decision, and the many ways in which the university community was 'lobbied' both to grant and to deny tenure. Examining the written record, I am satisfied that the faculty review process maintained its independence from this unwelcome attention. As much as some would like to create the impression that our process and decision have been influenced by outside interests, they are mistaken.
DePaul's press statement quoted its president again on this point: "Over the past several months, there has been considerable outside interest and public debate concerning this decision. This attention was unwelcome and inappropriate and had no impact on either the process or the outcome of this case."

Are they speaking the whole truth? Maybe, maybe not. Nevertheless, to issue such statements indicates that at the very least the officials involved believe it to be true. This makes me very skeptical that outside influence was the paramount factor here.

2) Finkelstein's supporters do not help his case by overpraising him. The final paragraph of the Guardian story on Finkelstein reads,"Mr Chomsky said before the announcement that the dispute was "outrageous. [Finkelstein] is an outstanding scholar. It's amazing that he hasn't had full professorship a long time ago."

Well now. Looking at a cached cv and Finkelstein's Wikipedia entry, a red flag for me is the fact that Finkelstein has been in the field for twenty years and apparently has never published a single peer-reviewed article. I looked on multiple search engines and the only journal articles I found were book reviews. Sorry, Noam, no one deserves a full professorship with that record. [Dude, he's published five books!!--ed. Yes, but I haven't heard of his primary book publisher, and peer-reviewed articles remain the gold standard in our field. DePaul ain't a top-20 institution, but it's good enough that this should have been an issue.]

3) If Finkelstein's supporters and detractors agree on one thing, it's that he's a nasty sparring partner. He likes to characterize the ADL as "Nazis." on his web site. His biggest boosters allow that he has a "polemical" writing style -- you can guess what his detractors think. [UPDATE: For an interesting conceptual exercise, read Henry Farrell's post on how to debate David Horowitz and try to apply that logic to Finkelstein.]

4) Despite all of this, DePaul's decision is really, really troubling to those of us who like academic freedom. The political science department voted 9-3 to grant him tenure, and they also exonerated him of academic misconduct charge that were levied against him. I would have understood if the department or the university had denied him because of holes in his scholarly record, but that was clearly not their reasoning. Indeed, in his letter to Finkelstein, DePaul's president him as "a nationally known scholar and public intellectual, considered provocative, challenging, and intellectually interesting." That's an "above-the-bar" description.

Instead, both the academic Dean and the President cited a lack of collegiality in Finkelstein's responses to his critics. The President quoted from the University Board on Tenure and Promotions [UBPT] report:

Notwithstanding the strength of some aspects of Dr. Finkelstein's record, the [UBPT] expressed several concerns touching upon his scholarship, specifically what they consider the intellectual character of his work and his persona as a public intellectual. The [UBPT] acknowledges that Dr. Finkelstein is a controversial author, provocative and challenging. Yet, some might interpret parts of his scholarsip as "deliberately hurtful" as well as provocative more for inflammatory effect than to carefully critique or challenge accepted assumptions. Criticism has been expressed for his inflammatory style and personal attacks in his writing and intellectual debates. These concerns are relevant to the [UBPT] in the recognition that an academic's reputation is intrinsically tied to the institution of which he or she is affiliated.
No question, there's the whiff of being "deliberately hurtful" in some of the record (Finkelstein accused Dershowitz of plagiarism in writing The Case For Israel). Style is not the same thing as substance, however, and DePaul's political science department found the substance worthy of tenure and promotion and the critiques of style not to rise to the level of character assassination.

Crudely put, you cannot and should not deny tenure to someone just because they've been an asshole in print. If you rigorously applied that criteria to the academy, you'd have to kick out a lot more people than Finkelstein.

The American Association of University Professors, in a statement on collegiality, observed the following:

Historically, “collegiality” has not infrequently been associated with ensuring homogeneity, and hence with practices that exclude persons on the basis of their difference from a perceived norm. The invocation of “collegiality” may also threaten academic freedom. In the heat of important decisions regarding promotion or tenure, as well as other matters involving such traditional areas of faculty responsibility as curriculum or academic hiring, collegiality may be confused with the expectation that a faculty member display “enthusiasm” or “dedication,” evince “a constructive attitude” that will “foster harmony,” or display an excessive deference to administrative or faculty decisions where these may require reasoned discussion. Such expectations are flatly contrary to elementary principles of academic freedom, which protect a faculty member’s right to dissent from the judgments of colleagues and administrators.
I've never met Norman Finkelstein, I've never read any of Finkelstein's work, and based on the reviews, I suspect I'm none the poorer for it. I also suspect I wouldn't like him very much. There might well be valid reasons for having denied him tenure. But reading the paper trail on this case, it's hard not to conclude that DePaul did not use a valid reason. Indeed, it's hard not to conclude that Finkelstein got a raw deal.

posted by Dan at 09:41 AM | Comments (10) | Trackbacks (0)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Drezner gets interesting results from Vladimir Putin

Hey, remember that Foreign Affairs essay I wrote called "The New New World Order?" If you don't, that's OK -- but it appears that Vladimir Putin has been reading it. From the Financial Times' Neil Buckley and Catherine Belton:

Russian president Vladimir Putin called on Sunday for a radical overhaul of the world’s financial and trade institutions to reflect the growing economic power of emerging market countries – including Russia.

Mr Putin said the world needed to create a new international financial architecture to replace an existing model that had become “archaic, undemocratic and unwieldy”....

His speech on financial institutions suggested that, along with an aggressive recent campaign against US “unilateralism” in foreign policy, he was also seeking to challenge western dominance of the world economic order.

Mr Putin said 50 years ago, 60 per cent of world gross domestic product came from the Group of Seven industrial nations. Today, 60 per cent of world GDP came from outside the G7.

“The interests of stable economic development would be best served by a new architecture of international economic relations based on trust and mutually beneficial integration,” Mr Putin said.

The Russian president said there was increasing evidence that existing organisations were “not doing a good job regulating global economic relations”.

“Institutions created with a focus on a small number of active players sometimes look archaic, undemocratic and unwieldy. They are a far cry from recognising the existing balance of power,” he said.

What's interesting about this speech is that Putin is correct in describing the state of the world, but not necessarily correct in his belief that "a new architecture of international economic relations" is going to serve Russia's interests.

Consider that Russia is already a member of one powerful club -- the G-8. Any realistic reform of global economic governance is going to give China and India more power than Russia relative to the status quo, because Russia still has the great power trappings it inherited from the Cold War. Indeed, unless we're talking about energy or nuclear weapons, Russia would be a less powerful actor after any reform effort.

Putin probably does not believe this, given sustained interest in the Russian economy and the comfort of high oil prices. Russia, however, should be very wary of what it wishes for -- it might just get it.

UPDATE: Brad Setser offers up a different new new world order:

This new international order is just dominated by big national institutions -- SAFE and the PBoC, the Bank of Russia, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and the like -- not big international institutions. The international financial institutions of the old international economic order -- the IMF for example -- are still around. But they don't have as much influence as they once did.

posted by Dan at 10:19 AM | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (2)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Final Sopranos predictions

I haven't blogged too much about the Sopranos over the years, but it's been one of the few shows that both the Official Blog Wife and I watch religiously.

In eager anticipation of the show's series finale tonight, and blog efforts to predict the show's denouement, here's what I think will happen:

1) No one in Tony's immediate family dies;

2) No one else in Tony's crew will die either;

3) Melfi takes Tony back (I found that part of last week's show unconvincing);

4) Regardless of how/whether Tony's feud with Phil Leotardo is resolved, the show will end with Tony still in charge, bereft of any competent underling to take over, depressed at the prospect of having to soldier on in charge, acutely aware that his eventual death will likely not be a peaceful one (this search for a successor has been at the heart of this last season, and for the past few seasons if you think about it);

5) Despite his best efforts, James Gandolfini will never find a role that makes people forget either Tony Sorprano or this song.

Readers are encouraged to offer their own predictions/postmortems.

POST-EPISODE UPDATE: Wrong on Melfi, but I think the rest of it holds up pretty well.

posted by Dan at 04:21 PM | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)