EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 21/01/2020

The Washington Post – Ishaan Tharoor / In Davos, a search for meaning with capitalism in crisis

  • President Trump will be addressing Davos on Tuesday. This year’s conclave will be the 50th since it began in 1971, marking a fitful half century of political turmoil and economic boom and bust. For years, Davos has represented the virtues of liberalism and globalization, anchored in a conviction that heads of companies can become capable and even moral custodians of the common good.
  • However, the disruptions and traumas of the past decade have sorely tested Davos’s faith in itself, and the term “globalist” has been regarded with derision and distrust. Moreover, a new global opinion poll of tens of thousands of people found that more than 50 percent of those surveyed now think capitalism does “more harm than good.”
  • Trump is also likely to be challenged in Davos by a growing cohort of climate activists and policymakers. On the same day of his speech, Greta Thunberg is expected to berate politicians and finance executives who still invest in fossil fuels. Although Trump almost certainly will not heed Thunberg’s call, representatives of major companies are desperate to show how they are adapting their business models to accommodate climate concerns.
  • The Economist / Can the World Economic Forum keep its mojo?
  • The Economist / Monetary policy will not be enough to fight the next recession

EURACTIV – Vlagyiszlav Makszimov / Ukraine PM Honcharuk given one more chance

  • The Ukrainian President, Volodomyr Zelenskiy, has rejected the Prime Minister Oleksiy Goncharuk resignation letter and told him to stay on and tackle the unpopular issue of high salaries of some public officials and multimillion-dollar bonuses paid to executives at the state gas company. The PM resigned after audio tapes leaked suggested he had criticised the president’s understanding of the economy as “primitive.”
  • Besides adjusting salaries and decreasing executive bonuses, the president also asked Honcharuk “to find weaknesses and to replace the heads of ministries” according to their track record.
  • Referring to the leaked recording, in which a man is heard discussing Zelenskiy’s purported lack of knowledge of economy, Honcharuk called it “a crime”. President Zelenskiy has ordered an investigation into the leak. Honcharuk said earlier the recording had been doctored and was made up of different fragments of what had been said at government meetings.
  • The Guardian – Jon Henley / Norway populist party quits coalition over ‘Isis bride’ repatriation

Financial Times – Martin Wolf / A partial and defective US-China trade truce

  • The trade agreement between the US and China has huge defects of omission and commission. Moreover, the conflict is far from achieving a resolution, and the US objectives remain confused and confusing. However, the two superpowers have at least reached an agreement. This is a truce, not peace. It leaves a high level of protection in place. Yet a truce is welcome.
  • The agreement does not cover the biggest concerns in the bilateral relationship, such as commercial cyber theft, industrial subsidies and the Made in China 2025 programme, aimed at upgrading the economy’s technological sophistication. Disputes relating to technological interdependence, mainly related to Huawei, and supply chains that include Chinese production in areas deemed sensitive for US security are also outside this agreement.
  • Continuing friction between the two countries is unavoidable. Agreement on enforceable trade rules may be possible, albeit difficult, in specific areas. But China will never agree to accept permanent economic and technological inferiority. If imposing the latter is the dominant US objective, this is just the early stage of a very long conflict.
  • Financial Times – Gideon Rachman / How I became a China sceptic

The New York Times – Chris Buckley / China says it will ban plastics that pollute its land and water

  • The Chinese government has introduced measures to cut the amount of disposable plastic. The new guidelines include bans on the import of plastic waste and the use of nonbiodegradable plastic bags in major cities by the end of this year. Other sources of plastic garbage will be banned in Beijing, Shanghai and wealthy coastal provinces by the end of 2022, and that rule will extend nationwide by late 2025.
  • The plan will probably be welcomed by many Chinese, who have become increasingly worried about polluted air, water, soil and natural surroundings. But it could be a hard sell for a society used to the convenience of online retailers and couriers who deliver hot meals and packages swaddled in plastic.
  • The Chinese government appears to think that companies and consumers need time to get used to life with much less single-use plastic. Even wealthy economies have moved gingerly to ban plastic bags. Last year, New York State approved a ban on most single-use plastic bags that is to take effect on March 1, making it only the second state after California to impose such a prohibition.
  • Project Syndicate – Jeffrey Frankel / The best tool to fight climate change

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.

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