Project Syndicate – Joseph E. Stiglitz / Trump’s trade confusion
- In early March, US President Donald Trump unveiled tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum, which he justified on the basis of national security. But Trump himself has already undercut his national-security claim by exempting most major exporters of steel to the US.
- Canada has been exempted from the tariffs on the condition of a successful renegotiation of NAFTA. Is Trump really suggesting that the US would sacrifice national security for a better agreement? Or perhaps the national-security claim is “fundamentally bogus”.
- Trump is not just addressing a non-issue. He is also inflaming passions and taxing US relationships with key allies. Trump’s focus on the US bilateral trade deficit with China is “silly”.
- China’s response has been firm and measured, aimed at avoiding both escalation and appeasement.
- In the years ahead, we are going to have to figure out how to create a “fair” global trading regime among countries with fundamentally different economic systems, histories, cultures, and societal preferences.
Financial Times – David Pilling / Why the world isn’t nearly as bad as you think it is
- The late Hans Rosling, renowned Swedish professor of international health, said that “every group of people I ask thinks the world is more frightening, more violent, and more hopeless — in short, more dramatic — than it really is.”
- When Rosling asked if “in the last 20 years, the proportion of the world population living in extreme poverty has a) almost doubled, b) remained more or less the same, or c) almost halved”, only about 7% of people got the answer right (almost halved).
- Without ever dismissing suffering, or the possibility of sudden reversals as a result of catastrophes, Rosling argued that we need to keep two ideas in our heads simultaneously: things can be bad but also improving.
- The book that Rosling was working on when he passed away, titled Factfulness, has just been published.
The New York Times – Jan-Werner Müller / ‘Democracy’ still matters
- On Sunday, Hungary’s right-wing prime minister, Viktor Orban, is up for re-election, possibly on track to his fourth term in office.
- Orban has popularized the term “illiberal democracy”. But this term fails to capture what is wrong with his regime: it still leaves him with the designation “democrat,” even as it is democracy itself — and not just liberalism — that is under attack in his country.
- In Hungary, not just the rule of law, but rights essential for democracy itself —free speech, free assembly and free association — have been systematically attacked.
- Orban’s party never revealed — or won an electoral mandate for — its real agenda, of perpetuating itself in power by attacking the institutions that underpin democracy.
- The European Union has played right into Orban’s hands by suggesting that it is only concerned about the liberal rule of law. The European Union thus gives the impression that democracy will always be taken care of by the nation-state.
- The upcoming election is probably the last before Hungary shifts from what is already a deeply damaged democracy to what political scientists would call a full-blown electoral autocracy.
The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.