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The brave new world of trading blocs

WE MAY be on the cusp of an upheaval in global trade. Since World War II, the international trading system has operated on the premise of "most favoured nation (MFN)", meaning that concessions granted to one country must be extended to all countries in the system. The trade standoff between the...

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Will China dump US dollars?

AT LAST count, China held slightly more than US$1 trillion in US Treasury securities. One fear has been that, should China and the United States engage in an economic war - as they clearly are now - those dollars could become a weapon against us. The Chinese would sell dollars in foreign...

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The 100 trillion dollar question

WE live in an age obsessed with economic inequality. There is too much of it, most people seem to agree. After Donald Trump - his personality, behaviour and policies - inequality may well become the dominant issue in the 2020 election. This poses dangers, the most obvious being the tendency to...

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Is the global trade system breaking down or just in hiatus?

THOSE of us who have always thought that Brexit - Britain's withdrawal from the European Union - was a bad idea should be feeling self-satisfied and vindicated now. Well, we are not; at least this observer isn't. The reason is obvious. Many of the things that we feared would happen...

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Alfred E Neuman's law of budget deficits

LET'S coin a new law of politics. Call it Neuman's Law after Alfred E Neuman of Mad magazine fame, whose philosophy is, "What, me worry?"...

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Job creation is job one

US Federal Reserve chairman Jerome ("Jay") Powell didn't waste much time getting to the point at last week's press conference. "My colleagues and I have one overarching goal: to sustain the economic expansion, with a strong job market and stable prices, for the benefit...

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Global warming - why I am less pessimistic about it

ON GLOBAL climate change, I've changed my mind - just slightly. I've written about this issue for more than two decades, and my theme has been monotonously consistent. As a starting point, I've accepted the prevailing scientific view that man-made greenhouse gases contribute to...

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The Fed's latest worry - financial markets

PAY attention to the financial markets. If the Great Recession and 2008-09 financial crisis taught us anything, that was it. Until then, the Federal Reserve had focused mainly on fighting inflation and unemployment. What we learned is that overborrowing, shaky mortgages and inflated stock and...

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The Great Recession vs the Great Depression

HERE'S today's economic quiz: Was the 2007-09 Great Recession more damaging than the Great Depression of the 1930s? Surely the answer is "no". In the 1930s, unemployment reached 25 per cent. By contrast, the recent peak in the jobless rate was 10 per cent. Case closed....

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It's not the economy, stupid!

ONE lesson of the midterm elections is that economic growth is losing its power to unite the country and to reduce explosive conflicts over race, religion, ethnicity, immigrant status and sexuality. This is unfamiliar. Economic progress has been a routine part of our election narratives. The...

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Lots of campaign sound and fury, but it's all a waste

WE'LL know soon who won the fiercely contested mid-term elections, but we already know who lost: We all did. This election has been a referendum on President Donald Trump, which suits both Republicans and Democrats just fine. Democrats are betting that the public has increasingly tired of...

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The future of anti-Semitism

PERHAPS it was naivete, ignorance or stupidity - or all three - but when I was growing up in the 1950s in a suburb of New York City, I had no sense of anti-Semitism. By that, I do not mean that I looked around and found little evidence of anti-Jewish feeling. I mean that I had no concept of anti...

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Capitalism under siege

THE story of American capitalism is a contradiction. It has succeeded in creating widespread material well-being, but yet has not satisfied a popular yearning for a society with less economic insecurity and more "fairness" and equality....

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Is the global warming fight mission impossible?

IF there were any doubt before, there should be none now. "Solving" the global climate change problem may be humankind's mission impossible. That's the gist of the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations group charged with...

COMMENTARY

A worrying future for the next generation?

IT has long been an accepted axiom in the United States - and also in many advanced democracies - that the future would be better than the past. People take it for granted that living standards would rise. Well, kiss that optimism goodbye.

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Handicap the next financial crisis before it starts

THE news is better than you might think. A decade after the onset of the 2008-2009 global financial crisis - an event usually dated to the bankruptcy of Lehman Bros - the world economy seems to be repairing itself.

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Lehman 10 years on: Let's draw the right lessons from it

WHO lost Lehman Brothers? Could it have been saved?

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Will Turkey turmoil turn into contagion?

THE pertinent and unanswerable question about Turkey is whether the country's present economic turmoil is an isolated event, mostly confined to Turkey itself, or whether it portends a larger economic convulsion that shakes markets around the world. Among economists and other experts, there...

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US$'s role is real reason why Trump won't win trade war

WHEN all is said and done, US President Donald Trump's trade war may be fated to fail. There are many reasons why. One is that the target countries - prominently, China, Japan and Germany - will not accede to his demands. This is already happening. Another threat is a backlash among US...