Pekín (3). Un vistazo a la actualidad internacional

Sigo en Pekín. He podido sacar un rato para echar una ojeada a la actualidad internacional, y estos son algunos de los artículos que más me han interesado. Merecen una lectura para luego reflexionar.

Martin Wolf: ‘How austerity has failed‘. The New York Review of Books.

  • ‘Austerity has failed. It turned a nascent recovery into stagnation. That imposes huge and unnecessary costs, not just in the short run, but also in the long term: the costs of investments unmade, of businesses not started, of skills atrophied, and of hopes destroyed. What is being done here in the UK and also in much of the eurozone is worse than a crime, it is a blunder’.

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  • ‘Why is strong fiscal support needed after a financial crisis? The answer for the crisis of recent years is that, with the credit system damaged and asset prices falling, short-term interest rates quickly fell to the lower boundary—that is, they were cut to nearly zero. Today, the highest interest rate offered by any of the four most important central banks is half a percent. Used in conjunction with monetary policy, aggressive and well-designed fiscal stimulus is the most effective response to the huge decrease in spending by individuals as they try to save money in order to pay down debt. This desire for higher savings is the salient characteristic of the post–financial crisis economy, which now characterizes the US, Europe, and Japan. Together these three still make up more than 50 percent of the world economy’.
  • ‘Of course, some think that neither monetary nor fiscal policy should be used. Instead, they argue, we should “liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmers, liquidate real estate.” In other words, sell everything until they reach a rock-bottom price at which point, supposedly, the economy will readjust and spending and investing will resume. That, according to Herbert Hoover, was the advice he received from Andrew Mellon, the Treasury secretary, as America plunged into the Great Depression. Mellon thought government should do nothing. This advice manages to be both stupid and wicked. Stupid, because following it would almost certainly lead to a depression across the advanced world. Wicked, because of the misery that would follow’.
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  • ‘The right approach to a crisis of this kind is to use everything: policies that strengthen the banking system; policies that increase private sector incentives to invest; expansionary monetary policies; and, last but not least, the government’s capacity to borrow and spend’.
  • ‘Failing to do this, in the UK, or failing to make this possible, in the eurozone, has helped cause a lamentably weak recovery that is very likely to leave long-lasting scars. It was a huge mistake. It is not too late to change course’.

David Gardner: ‘Qatar shows how to manage a modern monarchy‘. Financial Times.

  • ‘The Emir of Qatar’s decision to abdicate voluntarily in favour of his 33-year-old son may well be a first in Arab dynastic politics. The new emir – Sandhurst-educated Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Khalifa – has had a solid 10-year apprenticeship, grounded in the army and security services, the institutional teat of Arab rulers’.
  • ‘The Hashemites of Jordan, like the Alaouites of Morocco, claim descent from the Prophet. Saudi kings emphasise they are the custodians of Mecca and Medina – the holy mosque cities of pilgrimage – making them the nearest modern equivalents to Caliphs of Islam. They are not just monarchs’.
  • Saudi Arabia is still ruled by Ibn Saud’s sons, the latest of them the infirm King Abdullah, who has been predeceased by two crown princes in the past two years. Over-dependent for its legitimacy on the reactionary Wahhabi clerical establishment, the House of Saud faces a succession crisis as an absolute monarchy with no absolute monarch, as al-Saud factions jostle for position. Even Saudi officials liken it to the gerontocracy of the Soviet politburo after Leonid Brezhnev’.
  • ‘Republican tyrants, once like Shelley’s Ozymandias in their sneering pride, are almost dust (think Saddam Hussein railing against the Gulf’s “throne dwarfs”). The Saudis need to skip a generation, like Qatar. A bonus for Sheikh Hamad is that he cocks a snook at both camps’.
Discurso del Presidente Obama sobre su nueva política contra el cambio climático, ayer en la Universidad de Georgetown, Washington D.C. Se puede leer entero aquí. Con una parte importante de su legado, la política de inmigración, moviéndose relativamente bien en el Congreso, Obama es un poco más libre para centrarse en cambio climático. Sin embargo, todo lo que anunció ayer está diseñado para no requerir la aprobación del Congreso, donde sería bloqueado por la mayoría republicana.

Las cinco propuestas más importantes:

  1. Working with the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) to implement limits on the carbon dioxide output of new and existing power plants.
  2. Increasing production of renewable energy on public lands.
  3. Increasing energy efficiency standards.
  4. Adaptation of American cities and communities to the effects of climate change (storm surges, salination).
  • Internacionalmente: cooperación bilateral con grandes emisores en asuntos específicos. Por ejemplo, Obama y Xi Jinpin decidieron trabajar juntos para reducir la producción y el consumo de hidrofluorocarburos (HFCs) en su última reunión en California. También se anunció el fin de las ayudas públicas a nuevas plantas de carbón en el exterior, salvo las más avanzadas o los países más pobres. Por último señaló la importancia de continuar apoyando un ambicioso e inclusivo acuerdo global contra el cambio climático para 2020, en el contexto del United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
  • Para más información, hay un buen análisis en el Council on Foreign Relations, de Michael Levi: Reading Between the Lines of Obama’s Climate Change Plan
  • Una cita del discurso: ‘As a President, as a father, and as an American, I’m here to say we need to act. I refuse to condemn your generation and future generations to a planet that’s beyond fixing. And that’s why, today, I’m announcing a new national climate action plan’
 Jorg Bibow: ‘Euro Crisis Sees Reloading Of Germany’s Current Account Surplus’. Social Europe Journal.
  • ‘Who is running the largest current account surplus in the world? China? Saudi Arabia? Both wrong! These are only the number two and three countries. China had a record $420bn surplus in 2008, but that imbalance has more than halved since. As a share of GDP China’s external imbalance is down from ten to two-and-a-half percent since the global crisis – evidence of a remarkable rebalancing. The oil price would need to be significantly higher still to make Saudi Arabia the number one. So for 2012 the number one prize actually goes to: Germany! The world champion of 2012 ran up a current account surplus of almost $240bn. At a rocking seven percent of GDP’
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No os perdáis tampoco este largo ensayo en Brookings titulado A Deadly Triangle: Afghanistan, Pakistan & India. William Dalrymple, el autor, ve peligro de escalada del conflicto India-Pakistán, dos potencias nucleares que pueden poner en peligro la paz regional y mundial.

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