The Globalist http://www.theglobalist.com Daily online magazine on the global economy, politics and culture Sat, 01 Nov 2014 08:28:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A Professor in Foggy Bottom: “The Golden Hour” http://www.theglobalist.com/a-professor-in-foggy-bottom-the-golden-hour/ http://www.theglobalist.com/a-professor-in-foggy-bottom-the-golden-hour/#comments Sat, 01 Nov 2014 08:00:29 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=35602 By Todd Moss

An international thriller set in the world of politics and espionage.

THE GOLDEN HOURAn international thriller set in the world of politics and espionage.

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By Todd Moss

An international thriller set in the world of politics and espionage.

THE GOLDEN HOUR

Data are increasingly dominating political science. In the real world of policymaking, however, hard numbers are much rarer. In the novel “The Golden Hour,” the main character, Amherst College Professor Judd Ryker, has been invited to present his research on crisis data at the U.S. State Department. Little does he know, the Secretary’s Chief of Staff is launching a new rapid response unit — and Ryker is unwittingly interviewing for the job.

U.S. Department of State, 9:15am

The brightly lit conference room had dark cherrywood paneling with a bank of six large flat-panel monitors along one wall. Just like in the movies, he thought to himself.

About a dozen men and women, all in dark suits, were sitting in high-backed leather chairs around the table. Behind them, in a concentric ring, sat younger suits. They read papers or thumbed dials on their mobile phones. They look like my students.

At exactly nine fifteen, a tall man walked in briskly from a side door. He was in his late thirties and had small round glasses and short-cropped hair. Immediately, the room went silent and the man nodded to no one in general, and then approached Judd.

“Ryker, I’m Landon Parker. Thanks for coming in. We’ve got no more than ten minutes, so I’ll spare introductions. You’ve got the Secretary’s planning staff here, plus the heads of each of the major regional and functional offices.”

Parker turned to the others. “Folks, this is Professor Judd Ryker from Amherst College.”

Back to Judd. “Okay, Ryker. The floor is yours.”

“I’ll try to make this quick. Thank you, Mr. Parker, for asking me to come here today.” Judd stood up for emphasis. “In emergency medicine, a trauma patient’s chances of survival are greatest if they receive professional care in the hospital within sixty minutes after a severe multisystem injury. This is known as the Golden Hour.”

Judd scanned the room, hoping for hints of recognition. Nothing. He continued, “Although there is some debate about the precise length of time of the Golden Hour, the principle of rapid intervention in trauma cases is universally accepted. If you don’t get help very quickly, you die. It’s that simple.” Judd nodded, but still no reaction from the audience.

“I believe we have found the same principle to apply to international political trauma. We can’t run experiments in a lab, but we can pick up patterns in the data. The numbers can tell us.” Pause. In the classroom, my undergrads always love that line, he thought.

Judd waved his arms as he got more excited. “Using data over the past forty years, we studied 230 cases of political crisis in low- and middle-income countries. We found that the probability of resolution declines significantly over time. In fact, time is more dominant in the statistical analysis than ethnic cleavages, type of regime, or the other standard political variables.”

Judd waited a moment, to give the crowd time to let that settle in. Again, no reaction. Am I losing them? he wondered.

“Most interesting, the time-resolution correlation is not linear. In plain English, this means we have found clear tipping points in time. For the outbreak of a civil war, the critical period is about thirteen or fourteen days. After two weeks, the chances of a speedy resolution decline by more than half. Similarly, if an illegal seizure of power by the military is not reversed within about four days, the chances of reversal over the next year drop by eighty percent.”

Judd paused for effect. “In other words, ladies and gentlemen, the Golden Hour for a coup d’état is just 100 hours.”

Satisfyingly, this finally led to murmuring and scribbling among the crowd.

“I must stress that these results are still preliminary, and I have teams in Asia and Africa collecting additional data.” Caveats. I have a reputation to protect.

At long last, questions trickled in. “Are you finding differences across regions? Is Africa different from south Asia, or are they all pretty much the same?” asked one of those seated at the table, without identifying himself.

“No, we haven’t found any of the regional variables to be statistically significant,” responded Judd.

“Did anything change with the end of the Cold War or 9/11?”

“Good question. We haven’t broken the data into periods. We could try that. I just don’t know.”

“What is driving the results on coups? How can you explain what’s so special about timing? I understand the idea of a Golden Hour, but why does it exist?”

“We don’t really know. We can theorize that it probably has something to do with the dynamics of consolidating power after seizure. The coup makers must line up the rest of the security forces and maybe buy off parliament and other local political leaders before those loyal to the deposed president are able to react and countermove. It’s a race for influence. But these are just hypotheses.”

“What about international intervention? Does it matter if an external force gets involved diplomatically?” asked one staffer.

“Or militarily?” interjected another.

“We don’t have classifications for intervention, so it’s not in there,” replied Judd. “The numbers can’t tell us. So, we don’t know. I guess we could—”

Parker interrupted abruptly. “But in your expert opinion, Ryker, does it matter? Would it make a difference? Does the United States need to find ways to intervene more rapidly in emerging crises in the developing world? Can we prevent more wars and coups by reacting more quickly?”

Judd looked around the room at all the eyes locked on him. My numbers don’t answer that question. Isn’t that what you guys are here for?

But instead he sat up straight, turned to look Landon Parker directly in the eyes, and said simply, “Yes.”

Editor’s Note: The above text is adapted from “The Golden Hour,” by Todd Moss by arrangement with G. P. Putnam’s Sons, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, Copyright © 2014 by Todd Moss.

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Japan Rolls The Dice: A Report From Tokyo http://www.theglobalist.com/japan-rolls-the-dice-a-report-from-tokyo/ http://www.theglobalist.com/japan-rolls-the-dice-a-report-from-tokyo/#comments Sat, 01 Nov 2014 06:00:27 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=35726 By Kenneth Courtis

On the global consequences of a large economy refusing to reform itself.

Credit: Lek Changply - Shutterstock.comOn the global consequences of a large economy refusing to reform itself.

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By Kenneth Courtis

On the global consequences of a large economy refusing to reform itself.

Credit: Lek Changply - Shutterstock.com

On October 31, 2014, the government of Japan, through its subservient monetary arm, the Bank of Japan, made yet another desperate move. In an effort to address the depressing economic situation, it doubled up on its bet from “super duper quanto easing” gamble to “maxi super duper quanto easing.”

The BOJ has already been purchasing 70% of all new Japanese government bonds. Today, it announced that it would increase that amount up to some 85% of all new government debt! In effect, Japan has melted monetary and fiscal policy into one.

In addition, the BOJ announced that it would triple the amount of equities and real estate funds it is currently purchasing.

This means that the Bank of Japan’s next phase of quantitative easing will be, relative to its GDP, four times larger than what the Fed was doing at the peak of the U.S. experiment with its monetary easing.

To borrow a phrase from the British rock band Dire Straits, it is “Money for Nothing.”

Failed economic policies

What have been the results of AbeAso economic policies so far? After two years of jabber and the promised magic of still more deficit spending and the pursuit of an ultra-aggressive monetary easily, in the month of September Japanese household spending contracted at an annual rate of 5.6% and real household income plummeted by 6%.

Relying on monetary policy and year after year of increasing public and private sector debt, while avoiding to undertake long overdue structural reforms, is a strategy destined to failure.

What needs to be done? How about the following? First, encourage the immigration of 7-8 million young, well-educated young families to move to Japan. Second, privatize virtually everything the Japanese government owns. And third, take a blowtorch to the endless red tape that so often emasculates Japan’s economy and initiative in general.

The writing is on the wall

In contrast, all that the new measures announced today are going to achieve is two things: First, the yen will fall much further and faster – and second, Japan’s already massive public and private sector debt will get larger still.

One of the consequences of these economic dead end policies is that the yen will continue to fall. Over the medium term, I expect it at 140-150 yen to the U.S. dollar.

Imagine what that will do to the world trading system. No one should imagine for a split second that South Korea, China, Taiwan nor the other nations will simply sit on their hands. They will surely not look the other way while Japan gambles on this Hail Mary attempt to export its problems to the world economy.

The issue is bigger than Japan

Around the globe, as in Japan itself, we have all watched this ongoing calamity for a couple of decades now. I have had – and continue to have – quite different views from most about where the “AbeAso train” is headed. Unfortunately, it is headed into the wall. That is a problem for Japan. It is also going to be a massive problem for the world economy.

How can an economy move ahead, when the real income of wage earners, between the beginning of 2013 and the end of 2015, is set to decline by 9.2%? That is my latest estimate, as a result of the 100% increase in the sales tax, as well as the surge in import prices due to the aggressive yen devaluation strategy, in an environment where nominal wages remain flat.

Add into the mix four more problems – first, a contraction of both the overall population and of the labor market; second, a refusal to countenance immigration on a scale that would make a difference; third, rising competition virtually everywhere around the globe; and fourth, no significant structural reforms.

Under those circumstances, you end up with a vast failure of economic and political leadership – and an economic failure of historic proportions in the making.

Bottom line: Other nations beware

In a global context, there can be no clearer warning to others, than what is happening in Japan. Relying on exceptional monetary policy and systematic increases in private and public sector debt, while avoiding making deep structural reforms, is a strategy for failure.

The longer political and economic leaders to engage deep and pervasive reforms, the more difficult and problematic will be the outcome.

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Juncker’s Confidential Letter to Europe’s Leaders http://www.theglobalist.com/junckers-confidential-letter-to-europes-leaders/ http://www.theglobalist.com/junckers-confidential-letter-to-europes-leaders/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 06:00:50 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=35682 By Denis MacShane

A Globalist Exclusive: What the Juncker Commission needs from EU leaders for its mission to succeed.

Credit:   Marc Bruxelle - Shutterstock.comA Globalist Exclusive: What the Juncker Commission needs from EU leaders for its mission to succeed.

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By Denis MacShane

A Globalist Exclusive: What the Juncker Commission needs from EU leaders for its mission to succeed.

Credit:   Marc Bruxelle - Shutterstock.com

EU experts employed in think tanks and on newspapers are in seventh heaven as they pour out memos and suggestions to Jean-Claude Juncker and his 27 Commissioners on the eve of their taking office on November 1, 2014.

It can now be revealed that Mr. Juncker himself has written a confidential letter to the 28 heads of government in the EU. The Globalist has been sent a copy. Here is the text:

Lieber Angela, mon cher François, caro Matteo, dear Dave:

I am writing to you on as I take up office. De Gaulle once appealed over the heads of politicians and said “Français, Françaises, aidez-moi!”.

I am no de Gaulle and I want to work with you — and through you. Coming from Luxembourg, the tiniest of European nation states, I don’t need to be told that Europe must be built by, with and from its nations and never seek to replace them.

The new Commission wants to add value so that the EU and its member nations enjoy a win-win synthesis — in place of the scratchy irritations in which many national leaders see Europe as subtracting, not adding value.

Many who work full-time for the Commission or the European Parliament give the impression that everything in the EU would be rosy if its nations could fade away into the dustbin of history. Both are wrong.

Only in unity will the EU find hope

I want to see the end of my five-year term with the nations of Europe feeling happier, healthier and more hopeful about their future than the rather sour pessimism about decline that infects our continent at the moment.

But, like de Gaulle, I need your help. Here is what I hope you can do:

Make clear that there will be no more EU enlargement on my watch. Sorry Serbia, Kosovo, Moldova, Ukraine. But after the problems of recent enlargements, we need to accept that we can consider only new member states that are fully equipped to work free of corruption, with rule of law, freedom of expression (and a very long spoon when it comes to supping with Mr. Putin).

I hope that after the elections in Ukraine, Mr. Putin can make clear he will not destabilize eastern Ukraine any more. In exchange, we can relax sanctions.

Please campaign for the new Euroatlantic trade deal, TTIP. I know open trade frightens some. Twenty years into NAFTA, there are still only a few trucks that trade freely across the U.S.-Mexico border. The EU allows its traders to drive their lorries from Galway to Galicia, from the Arctic Circle to the Aegean Sea.

This is a huge accomplishment — a success we should build on. We should defend the free movement of goods, capital, services — and yes, Dave, people. Don’t forget there are two million plus Brits taking advantage of freedom of movement to live and work in the EU.

A strong EU requires sacrifice

Next, progress on energy. In 1950, most of Europe’s energy came from coal. Back then, far-sighted leaders gave up national sovereign control over coal. They chose to transfer power to the first-ever European economic community and an independent high authority, the forerunner of the Commission. Purists felt letting go of national control was a risk too far.

But it worked. So help me shape a genuine EEU – a European Energy Union – in place of 28 patchwork quilts that all too often see the lights go out.

We can green our energy, but can do so without penalizing industry. My Europe will be one where things are made — not simply consumed.

I speak as a Luxembourger, where we have been able to develop a comparative advantage in banking. It’s no bad thing that innovative banking and financial services are within the EU — and not re-located to Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Dubai and Singapore.

I want the City in London to be as strong for Europe as Wall Street is for the U.S. market economy. We have to avoid the mistakes that led to 2007/08. And when a CEO earns 100 or 200 times what his employees earn, then something is morally and ethically wrong. But a Europe of strong banking and finance is a priority.

Can we create genuine capital union so that start-ups have access to capital and money flows where it can create wealth and a new generation of profitable businesses?

Let’s see if we can make digital Europe with common rules a reality. By 2019, I want all of Europe on Wifi and deep into digital media.

Ministers must focus on the people they work for

In Luxembourg, I had a cabinet of seven, the same size as the Swiss federal cabinet — and that was big enough for me. But at the EU level, there are 28 Commissioners — and none of you was willing not to nominate someone. Good.

There are some terrific experienced ex-prime ministers and senior ministers. I have asked them to work in seven clusters as a team — rather than creating single baronies, as was the inefficient past practice. It’s up to them to make it work, but please nudge them to work as a team.

I am on the centre-right and my number two, Frans Timmermans, is on the center-left. He has to sign off on every proposal. Coming as he does from the pragmatic can-do Dutch, I don’t think he will be wanting to add to your regulatory burdens.

I want you to make decisions for your people. Ask not what the EU can do for you. Ask rather why you cannot do it at the national level. Less Europe, more individual citizens, more individual businesses, more individual responsibility.

I regret the budget mess-up that has happened recently. But if we get a Europe of reform and growth, this will be seen in perspective. I finish, dear friends, as I began. The European Commission and I are only as good as you want us to be. It is the national leaders of Europe that can make Europe work. No one else can.

Sincerely,

Jean-Claude Juncker

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Electing a Republican Senate Won’t Fix What’s Broke http://www.theglobalist.com/electing-a-gop-senate-wont-fix-whats-broke/ http://www.theglobalist.com/electing-a-gop-senate-wont-fix-whats-broke/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 06:00:37 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=35703 By Peter Morici

On two key issues – jobs and health care – Americans have a lot to learn from (Northern) Europe.

U.S. Capitol Building (Credit: Mikhail Kolesnikov - Shutterstock.comOn two key issues – jobs and health care – Americans have a lot to learn from (Northern) Europe.

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By Peter Morici

On two key issues – jobs and health care – Americans have a lot to learn from (Northern) Europe.

U.S. Capitol Building (Credit: Mikhail Kolesnikov - Shutterstock.com

Voter discontent across the United States is very likely to give the GOP control of the Senate, but Americans quickly will become as dis-enamored with a new cast on Capitol Hill.

Most Americans’ paychecks are stagnant and health care and many other things too expensive. And yet, Americans won’t accept what fixing those problems requires – and then pressure politicians to act accordingly.

Managing globalization badly

The United States manages globalization badly. It has opened its markets to cheap imports, while China and other Asian nations maintain high barriers to competitive U.S. exports. Washington has not compelled reciprocity through specific actions to sustain American jobs.

Americans can’t seem to accept that putting everyone to work—and most folks getting higher pay—would more than offset paying a bit extra for a coffee table or cell phone. Hence, Obama and the GOP do no more than talk about these problems.

New technologies make life easier, but have dramatically changed the workplace. Large organizations once employed batteries of white-collar workers.

Train for jobs, not general citizenship virtues

Many were liberal arts college graduates having no great skill in finance or management. Essentially, they were there to faithfully implement the policies, plans and requirements of more senior, skilled decision makers.

In the private sector, computers and software have eliminated many of those jobs, but Americans keep sending about half of graduating high school seniors to college.

Far too many of them get degrees in political science, psychology and the like — and many end up jobless, underemployed and, because of the high cost of college in the Untied States, terribly in debt.

Yet, vast new opportunities for folks with a technical high school diploma or a few additional years of training in information technology, manufacturing and other technical specialties go unfilled.

Colleges need a diet—fewer students and a lot less money for their administrator bureaucrats—and both need to be redirected into a new system of vocational education.

Most young people would spend fewer years in school, get better jobs and have less debt, but parents won’t accept that most children should not go to college and politicians don’t act.

America’s sub-par health care

Health care in America is far from the best in the world. The Germans and Dutch have mandatory insurance systems, pay a third less for medical expenses overall, are healthier and face fewer hassles seeing a doctor. What’s not to like?

In the United States, politics interferes far too much. Republicans keep preaching vouchers and competition, and Obamacare imposes a new IRS-like tyrant into American life.

The voters, meanwhile, are all too willing to believe the ill-reasoning of politicians from one party or the other — and then get frustrated when things don’t get better, only more expensive.

Until voters recognize the inferior quality of American health care and demand that American performance and prices are benchmarked to superior northern-European systems, things are not going to get better.

Americans are correct to demand change, but at all levels the parade of incompetency will continue until Americans reckon with the changes they need to accept.

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Ottawa: A Sergeant-at-Arms As the Real Thing http://www.theglobalist.com/ottawa-a-sergeant-at-arms-as-the-real-thing/ http://www.theglobalist.com/ottawa-a-sergeant-at-arms-as-the-real-thing/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 06:00:52 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=35644 By Terri Langston

Competence and the protection of the people’s house.

Sargent at Arms Kevin Vicker- Credit: ww.itimes.comCompetence and the protection of the people’s house.

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By Terri Langston

Competence and the protection of the people’s house.

Sargent at Arms Kevin Vicker- Credit: ww.itimes.com

The ancient office of Sergeant-at-Arms – which still persists in countries related to the British parliamentary system – may have originated in the Roman tradition of employing bodyguards for state officials. Some sources hold that the Normans took the idea of the “sergeant” from France to England after 1066. Philip II of France took a corps of guards with him to the Crusades in 1192.

English sources say that King Richard I (the “Lionheart”) of England took 24 with him on his ghastly mission to the Crusades in 1190. The royal role of Sergeant-at-Arms likely extends from 1189 when Richard I was crowned.

In medieval times, the Sergeants-at-Arms originally came from the military. They were the solid, reliable troops from the “middle class,” under the status of the aristocratic knights. English sovereigns did retain “sergeants” to perform specific duties for them, so in the early 13th century, the task assumed the role of a bodyguard.

“Mister Speaker”

The role officially transitioned to parliaments in 1415, when the House of Commons requested a Sergeant, still appointed by the King perhaps to protect the Speaker, as quarrels often ensued between the Speaker, the King and the House of Commons. Henry VIII transferred the authority over the Sergeant to the House of Commons.

The numbers of Sergeants-at-Arms have diminished, their tasks have become more varied and their significance is associated with ceremony – in most countries.

People in the United States are only aware of the role – if even then – when the Sergeant calls out, “Mister [or Madame] Speaker, the President of the United States,” at the annual State of the Union address. Though a U.S. president is not required by the Constitution to give that address each year, he gets to hear that ego-boosting call once a year.

The U.S. House of Representative’s Sergeant assumed that announcing role when the position of “Doorkeeper of the House of Representatives” was abolished in 1995. This aligns with a historical account that the first mention of parliamentary sergeant was as a doorkeeper in 1322.

Wielding the mace

Both houses of the U.S. Congress – and the legislatures of 49 U.S. states (Rhode Island abstaining) – keep Sergeants-at-Arms, who are responsible for security and maintaining order on the floor (generally not needed since members rarely pistol whip or cane each other anymore – at least not since the advent of CNN). They also deploy ceremonial roles frequently bearing a mace.

The U.S. House Sergeant may, as ordered by the Speaker, haul the mace in front of a Member of Congress who is out of order. Just try that now, Speaker or Sergeant, and your job may come into question, since the House itself elects both.

From 2008 to 2012, Britain managed to have its first female “Serjeant,” but that appointment was subject to typical British controversy. Ms. Jill Pay had signed a document allowing police into the House of Commons without a warrant to search the office of a Member of Parliament.

Yet again, historical sources tell us that the earliest sergeants, the Roman bodyguards, had unlimited powers and did not have to adhere to any legalities, which Ms. Pay could have used in her defense.

Nevertheless, Ms. Pay was a mid-level civil servant, not a former military or police officer, so she was not deemed suitable for the post, including by the Queen, who refused her an audience.

Interesting with regard to gender parity, a professional security coordinator for Parliament was appointed and the post of “Serjeant” was downgraded upon Ms. Pay’s appointment.

The Canadians do it better

The Sergeant-at-Arms is the chief security officer of the Canadian House of Commons, appointed by the Governor General and the federal cabinet. The Sergeant does wear a fancy hat and robes and carries a large gold mace into the House at each session in a ceremonial parade. But appearances can be deceiving.

The current Sergeant, Kevin Vickers, evidently takes his role of protecting the House not only very seriously but is also well qualified to handle it.

Most people aware of the news know that it was Mr. Vickers who shot dead the terrorist Michael Zehaf-Bibeau in Ottawa on October 22, 2014. To see this act in context, it’s important to know that Vickers spent 29 years with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, rose to chief superintendent of the national police in New Brunswick and had been director of security operations for the House of Commons.

It is also important to know that his cousin’s assessment, “He’s a very intelligent and responsible person. He’s a people person-type fellow, too, but you don’t want to mess with him,” was correct.

Indeed. When he heard gunshots from an alcove just outside the entrance of the Parliament’s library and near his office, Vickers – dressed in ceremonial garb but having shed the hat – took out his automatic handgun and ran behind the other side of the large pillar where Bibeau was hiding.

Within two feet of the shooter, he could see the barrel of Bibeau’s Winchester hunting rifle, holding off the security detail that had forced him to hide there.

Vickers dove to the floor around the pillar, spun around to land on his back and fired upwards at Bibeau to kill him. The other security officers then moved in.

A recipient of the Queen’s Jubilee medal, the Canada 125 medal and the RCMP Long Service medal,
Vickers showed that there was reason behind those honors.

When he had been interviewed for the post, Vickers was asked what he wanted from the job. He said, “I told them that if they made me their sergeant-at-arms, there would be no walls built around Canada’s parliamentary buildings.”

After the shooting, he walked around the Parliament, presumably making sure all was secure. No walls needed.

Then he called his mother to tell her he was safe.

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12 Facts on Sergeant-at-Arms in Ottawa and in History http://www.theglobalist.com/12-facts-on-sergeant-at-arms-in-ottawa-and-in-history/ http://www.theglobalist.com/12-facts-on-sergeant-at-arms-in-ottawa-and-in-history/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 06:00:33 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=35617 By The Globalist

The Canadians experience with terrorism brings the historic role to light.

Sargent at Arms Kevin Vicker- Credit: Ryan MarshallThe Canadians experience with terrorism brings the historic role to light.

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By The Globalist

The Canadians experience with terrorism brings the historic role to light.

Sargent at Arms Kevin Vicker- Credit: Ryan Marshall

1. The word “sergeant” may come from a Latin word for “servant” or from “Serre Gente,” a foot soldier who kept soldiers in tight ranks.

2. The title of Sergeant probably originated in Roman times when state officials hired bodyguards.

3. The Normans likely took the title to England after 1066. Philip II of France took a corps to the Holy Land in 1192 to guard him.

4. The Sergeants formed the bodyguard of King Richard I of England starting in 1189. The king took 24 to the Crusades with him.

5. The British House of Commons received its first Sergeant-at-Arms in 1415. The post in the House of Lords is called Black Rod.

6. Keeping order and removing unruly members are tasks of the Sergeants in most legislative bodies. Ceremonial maces may play a role in that task.

7. Countries that employ Sergeants include Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka, the United Kingdom and the United States.

8. Britain appointed its first female Sergeant in 2008. All 37 Sergeants of the U.S. House since 1789 have been men. The Senate has had 38 men and one woman.

9. Forty-nine of the 50 U.S. states have sergeants-at-arms. Rhode Island alone has none.

10. Doorkeeper was the function of the first sergeant-at-arms in 1322. The Sergeant of the U.S. House began announcing the President when the position of Doorkeeper was abolished in 1995.

11. Canadian House Sergeant Kevin Vickers spent 29 years in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, led high-profile investigations of murder and drug importations and protected foreign dignitaries and the Royal Family.

12. Canadian Sikhs honored Vickers in 2013 when he ensured that their sacred kirpan dagger was allowed in Canada’s legislature.

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11 Facts on India’s Global Clout http://www.theglobalist.com/11-facts-on-indias-global-clout/ http://www.theglobalist.com/11-facts-on-indias-global-clout/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 06:00:24 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=35625 By The Globalist

How much clout does India have in today's global economy?

india flagHow much clout does India have in today's global economy?

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By The Globalist

How much clout does India have in today's global economy?

india flag

1. Narendra Modi — who was inaugurated as India’ prime minister in May 2014 — inherited an economy that was slowing after two decades of rapid growth.

2. In 1990, the year before India began a program of economic liberalization, its economy was the seventh-largest in the world.

3. By 2000, it had moved ahead of France and Italy to become the fifth-largest economy in the world.

4. Just three years later, India surpassed Germany as the world’s fourth-largest economy.

5. In 2008, India moved into its current spot by moving ahead of Japan to become the world’s third-largest economy.

6. By 2013, the Indian economy (at $6.8 trillion) was 45% larger than the Japanese economy ($4.7 trillion).

7. If India is to move up in the world GDP league table, it will have to catch either the United States or China.

8. Currently, India’s GDP is about $10 billion less than U.S. GDP ($16.7 trillion) and Chinese GDP ($16.1 trillion).

9. While the overall size of India’s economy has grown almost seven-fold since 1990, its per capita GDP has risen less spectacularly.

10. In 2013, India’s per capita GDP was $5,450, the lowest by far of the five largest emerging markets of Russia ($24,300), Brazil ($15,000), China ($11,900) and Indonesia ($9,600).

11. India’s per capita GDP in 2013 was just a little more than four times what it was in 1990 ($1,200).

Note on data: All GDP figures are expressed in terms of purchasing power parity, which takes into account the differences in the prices of goods and services between countries.

All data are available in the IMF’s World Economic Outlook database (October 2014 edition).

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11 Facts on Indonesia in the Global Economy http://www.theglobalist.com/11-facts-on-indonesias-global-clout/ http://www.theglobalist.com/11-facts-on-indonesias-global-clout/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 06:00:00 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=35631 By The Globalist

How much clout does Indonesia have in today's global economy?

Credit: Rawpixel Shutterstock.comHow much clout does Indonesia have in today's global economy?

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By The Globalist

How much clout does Indonesia have in today's global economy?

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1. On October 20, 2014, Joko Widodo — commonly known as Jokowi — was inaugurated as the seventh president of Indonesia.

2. Jokowi is the first president not to come from Indonesia’s political and military elites. As a result, ordinary Indonesians have pinned their hopes for economic betterment on him.

3. Jokowi is taking office a year after Indonesia moved ahead of the United Kingdom to become the world’s ninth-largest economy.

4. Indonesia’s GDP in 2013 was $2.39 trillion, just slightly higher than the United Kingdom’s $2.32 trillion.

5. Covering 1.9 million sq. kms of land rich in timber, minerals, oil and other resources, Indonesia is about eight times larger than the UK.

6. Indonesia’s population — which at 248 million makes it the world’s fourth most-populous country — is more than four times larger than the UK’s.

7. This also means that Indonesia’s per capita GDP (at $9,635) is still only about a quarter of the UK’s ($36,200).

8. Indonesia was a Dutch colony from the early 1600s until World War II.

9. Present-day Indonesia is nearly 50 times larger than its former colonizer, the Netherlands, and has about 15 times the number of people.

10. Indonesia’s $2.39 trillion economy is nearly three times larger than the economy of the Netherlands ($840 billion).

11. However, taking population into account, the Netherlands’ per capita GDP ($46,440.04) is almost five times higher than Indonesia’s.

Note on data: All GDP figures are expressed in terms of purchasing power parity, which takes into account the differences in the prices of goods and services between countries.

All data are available in the IMF’s World Economic Outlook database (October 2014 edition).

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11 Facts on Brazil’s Global Clout http://www.theglobalist.com/11-facts-on-brazils-global-clout/ http://www.theglobalist.com/11-facts-on-brazils-global-clout/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 06:00:27 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=35573 By The Globalist

How much clout does Brazil have in today's global economy?

Credit: Patrice6000 - Shutterstock.comHow much clout does Brazil have in today's global economy?

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By The Globalist

How much clout does Brazil have in today's global economy?

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1. On October 26, 2014, Brazil’s incumbent President Dilma Rousseff — the first woman to hold that office — won re-election to a second four-year term.

2. Rousseff’s re-election was in doubt given Brazil’s sluggish economy, poor public services and allegations of corruption and waste relating to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

3. As of 2013, Brazil’s GDP was just over $3 trillion, making it the seventh-largest in the world.

4. Brazil’s economy surpassed eighth-ranked France’s ($2.53 trillion, in 2013) for the first time in 2007.

5. In 2007, the gap between the Brazilian and French economies was about $20 billion.

6. The gap has widened every year since and is now almost half a trillion dollars.

7. The only countries with larger economies than Brazil are the United States ($16.8 trillion), China ($16.1 trillion), India ($6.8 trillion), Japan ($4.7 trillion), Germany ($3.5 trillion) and Russia ($3.5 trillion).

8. Brazil has two key economic advantages over France (and, for that matter, most other countries) — land and people.

9. Encompassing the resource-rich Amazon river system and rain forest, Brazil covers 8.5 million sq. kms and is more than 15 times the size of France.

10. Brazil’s population of 200 million is nearly three times larger than France’s (66 million).

11. Brazil won its independence from Portugal in 1820 and was, at the time, Portugal’s largest overseas colony.

Upshot: Today, Brazil’s economy is more than ten times the size of Portugal’s economy, its former colonizer.

 

Note on data: All GDP figures are expressed in terms of purchasing power parity, which takes into account the differences in the prices of goods and services between countries. All data are available in the IMF’s World Economic Outlook database (October 2014 edition).

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Rousseff’s Global Challenge: Do Better Than India http://www.theglobalist.com/rousseffs-big-challenge-do-better-than-india/ http://www.theglobalist.com/rousseffs-big-challenge-do-better-than-india/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 14:55:57 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=30571 By Stephan Richter

With Modi, India got a new life politically. What about Brazil?

Credit: lazyllama - Shutterstock.comWith Modi, India got a new life politically. What about Brazil?

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By Stephan Richter

With Modi, India got a new life politically. What about Brazil?

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Brazilians are both quite enamored with China as a mighty trading partner and very nervous about it at other times. But now that Dilma Rousseff has won reelection, however tightly, the true challenge for Brazil’s near-term political future comes from India.

It was in India where a left-of-center government – under then-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh – also won reelection in 2009, but ended up overstaying its welcome. As it became ever more obvious that his Congress party was losing political steam, it desperately tried to hold onto power by enlarging its governing coalition, the UPA, with ever more political parties.

In the end, the whole Congress edifice became dysfunctional. Mr. Singh, who as finance minister from 1991 to 1996 had been the important architect of India’s economic opening, became a mere shadow of himself.

Time wasted in India

At best, the venerable Mr. Singh was a caretaker prime minister, but definitely not a leader who could get anything meaningful done. In hindsight, it is painfully clear that the two-term prime minister (2004-2014) stayed in office at least for one term longer than was either good for him or the country.

India, as a result, fell way short of the economic progress it must make, not least to absorb the vast numbers of labor market entrants each year that need work – the flip side of its “demographic dividend.”

For all of the Congress party establishment’s best efforts, the mystique of the Gandhi family name, which had long enchanted voters, has finally run its course. In the 2014 election, Indian voters turned to the opposition candidate, the BJP’s Narendra Modi, in impressive numbers.

Equipped with an absolute majority in parliament, he is the first prime minister in India in 30 years able to govern without a coalition partner. That should help him make up for lost time with regard to a dynamic management of the economy.

Brazil: Another detour?

Brazil can only hope to escape India’s fate. Under the Congress party’s Brazilian equivalent, the Workers’ Party (PT), the country has had an impressive run economically, boosted by a commodity boom.

After the transformative Lula da Silva, the country’s president from 2002 to 2010, his handpicked successor, Dilma Rousseff, had another four-year run and has now gained reelection for a second term that will have her in power through 2019.

To be sure, the PT has achieved some very important transformations, mainly in the social sector by reducing poverty via such programs as the Bolsa Familia.

But there is also no denying that the PT has run out of steam. Rousseff’s real failure – in addition to failing to rein in the corruption monster, which may yet fell her (even though she is now reelected) – was on the reform side.

Specifically, Rousseff failed to make good use of the good economic times – by implementing overdue labor market reform and political reform, as well as to provide for a more business friendly environment in general.

In addition, Mrs. Rousseff has had a hard time even with core voter groups, especially among the young. And she overplayed the card of boosting growth by relying on state enterprises such as Petrobras.

Brazil’s Singh

To put it charitably, Mrs. Rousseff, much like Mr. Singh in India, has not had much luck during her first term in office. Reforms stagnated and household indebtedness rose, which undermines the gains in expanding the middle class. The competitive stance of Brazil’s industry leaves much to be desired – and corruption remains rampant.

To buttress their waning political fortunes, she and her party have been compelled to make the same move as Congress in India – widening what is already a hard-to-handle coalition of some 30 (sub-)parties even more. Even with the best of intentions, it is a real question under those circumstances whether Rousseff´s PT is able to get the necessary reforms done – even if she personally were perfectly willing to do so.

Brazilian voters did have a real option to exist from the stagnation that the PT has brought with it (and, compared to the Lula times, over itself as well). Aecio Neves, a former governor and the opposition party’s candidate, came tantalizingly close to winning Mrs. Rousseff.

His party, the Social Democratic Party or PSDB – does not consist of political morons. Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Lula’s predecessor as President from 1995 to 2002, laid much of the groundwork for the economic reforms that came to fruition thereafter.

The danger for Brazil is as clear as it is present. The glitz and the hope are already gone. Rousseff managed to eke out another term in office – but that’s hardly mission accomplished. More appropriately, it’s a second chance.

As on the field, so in government?

Considering how soccer-crazy the Brazilians are, it is unfortunate to see that the sport does not provide a helpful metaphor that would give hope for Dilma turning things around. It is rather the opposite. To see why, consider the performance of Brazil’s football team in the 2014 World Cup.

Ten years earlier, in the 1994 tournament held in the Untied States, Brazil´s team was more or less a shadow of a more glorious footballing past. And yet, the squad managed to squeak by and won the World Cup one more time. But instead of reading the writing on the wall, and implement urgent reforms, things were left to fester.

Instead of doing the only sensible thing, reinventing itself in time – say, in time for the 2014 Cup at home – the country clung to the old formula. And so it was that, playing before a shattered home crowd, Brazil got a true whipping by the German team, in a manner that Brazilians will long remember with great embarrassment.

The football pitch can offer nations valuable lessons, especially Brazil. Rousseff and the PT are in power at least for one more round, which puts them into the position to celebrate the glory of the 2016 Olympic Games to be held in Rio de Janeiro. But it is very uncertain, looking at the political and economic spheres, whether Brazil can spare itself another sub-par performance over the next four years.

The challenge for Rousseff then is to outperform India. That may come as a shock to Brazilians, but the challenge – albeit at a different level of economic development – is very real. India and Brazil are indeed quite similar institutionally in pivotal ways: Both countries have powerful states. Both have constitutions that prevent reform – and both have a very fragmented political system.

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Dilma Redux? http://www.theglobalist.com/dilma-redux/ http://www.theglobalist.com/dilma-redux/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 14:28:43 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=35557 By Johanna Mendelson Forman

Brazil, like the United States, is now polarized politically, with two irreconcilable halves.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. Credit: Roberto Stuckert Filho/PR-FlickrBrazil, like the United States, is now polarized politically, with two irreconcilable halves.

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By Johanna Mendelson Forman

Brazil, like the United States, is now polarized politically, with two irreconcilable halves.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. Credit: Roberto Stuckert Filho/PR-Flickr

The re-election of President Dilma Rousseff as President of Brazil was not a foregone conclusion as little as a week ago. While the campaign could not have been dirtier, with charges of corruption, womanizing and wife-beating flying around, Rousseff’s Workers Party now seems set for another four years in office.

The PT is on the verge of having the longest running rule of one party in Brazil since the end of military rule in 1985.

Watching the Brazilian presidential campaign in Rio in its final days provided a useful window to talk to voters.

If this election reveals anything about the Brazilian electorate, it is that they are not yet ready to give up the socio-economic gains of the years under the PT’s stewardship of the country.

The 12 years of Labor government so far have created expectations for many millions of Brazilians to become part of the middle class. Even though the right-of-center candidate, former Minas Gerais governor Aecio Neves, promised to keep the social programs going, the majority of voters opted for the status quo.

The electorate was closely divided, though. With the final votes counted, Rousseff, with 51.6 % of the vote to Neves 48.5%, had only a 3%, or 3 million vote difference.

That foreshadows a polarization of what some have characterized as two irreconcilable halves – much as is the case now in the United States.

And indeed, if one looks at the map of Brazil, it is as if it has been cut in two: The northern states, which are poor and benefit greatly from the social welfare programs, wanted more of the same. Brazil’s southern half, where the states are far richer and more industrial, sought a new beginning.

They pinned their hopes on Governor Neves. His election platform was to open up trade and foreign direct investment, end the corruption of the Labor Party and project Brazil into a wider global market, while also retaining its leadership role in the global south.

A hidden gender gap?

In this traditionally high-testosterone nation, talk of a gender gap that favors women leaders is really not part of the political dialogue.

And yet, looking at the polls in the final week of the campaign, Dilma Rousseff gained the lead because of women seeing her as the better choice.

Women voters, especially from poorer areas, feel strongly about the Bolsa Familia, the cash-benefit social program which is credited with having lifted 40 million Brazilians out of poverty over the last decade.

This is no real surprise, given that women as heads of households are the primary beneficiaries of social programs, and are more in need of government support.

Women also see Dilma as a strong leader, someone who had fought against military rule in the 1970s. They often cited her courage when she was imprisoned and tortured by the military regime she rejected.

At the same time that Dilma was in jail, her opponent was leading the charmed life of a member of Brazil’s establishment.

Many voters I spoke with said that voting for Dilma was a vote for social inclusion, of giving better access to education in a nation that still has one of the largest income gaps in the world.

While the word “change” dominated the political discourse, Brazilian voters were really eager to have more of the same, for the sake of having social inclusion become a part of the Labor Party’s legacy.

Having a woman president in the fifth-largest country in the world is also a way to break down the traditionally machista culture that often dominates Brazil’s political debates.

Women are flexing their political muscle, showing that they want a voice in what some would describe as an election that marks a generational shift in Brazil.

Ending polarization

In her victory statement, Rousseff told her fellow Brazilians that there must be open political dialogue to end the deep divisions that became so apparent in this election.

But what will that dialogue look like? Will it bring together the business interests that Neves voters represented? Will it be forward looking in finding common ground for bringing the positions of both parties closer together in terms of greater trade and foreign direct investment?

Brazil’s government clearly needs reform. There are too many political parties. As a result, its Congress is highly fragmented, which makes it an obstacle to good governance.

No matter how the dialogue begins, it is essential for the different political factions to come together to create a new strategic vision for Brazil going forward.

Given the closeness of the election, it is important for the Labor Party’s legitimacy to make sure that it seizes the moment to bring opponents around the table quickly. Acting on this promise to convene will be the first test of Dilma’s ability.

The general thrust of her second term has to be about moving Brazil to a new reality as a consolidated democratic state that can manage both its winners and losers.

A divided electorate in a country the size of Brazil could be destabilizing at a time when the economy is hardly growing, even if unemployment is very low.

Implications for the United States

Brazil’s just concluded presidential election was about domestic politics, not about foreign policy. Yet, the need to rebuild a strong and positive relationship with the United States must become a priority for Rousseff in her second term.

With Dilma’s next term, starting in January 2015, she needs to move beyond the issue of National Security Agency cell phone intercepts to a wider conversation about what South America needs.

The entire region must become more effective in managing its internal needs for stability, economic growth and a common agenda toward trade.

But the devil is, as always, in the details – and the politics of symbolism matter greatly. Discussions of the upcoming 2015 Summit of the Americas in Panama will certainly put the United States and Brazil on a collision course regarding Cuba’s participation in that event.

That aside, it is high time for both countries to find common ground in the shared desire for ongoing economic growth and democratic governance in the Americas.

If all goes well, Rousseff’s second term in office may come to symbolize an important transition in the bilateral relationship – one that is based more in the 21st century than in the past.

Then, her victory would mark – as it well should – the end of a generation of leaders who still look to the United States with a certain inherent distrust as a legacy of times past.

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Mr. Obama: To Attack Inequality, Expand Vocational Training http://www.theglobalist.com/mr-obama-to-attack-inequality-expand-vocational-training/ http://www.theglobalist.com/mr-obama-to-attack-inequality-expand-vocational-training/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 06:00:48 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=35552 By Peter Morici

The United States sends too many kids to college.

Credit: Calvste- Shutterstock.comThe United States sends too many kids to college.

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By Peter Morici

The United States sends too many kids to college.

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The U.S. economy remains locked in mediocre growth and increasing inequality. To help break that cycle, federal and state governments should cut funding and student assistance at colleges and universities and redirect resources and students into vocational programs.

The U.S. economy supports many well-paying jobs at the top in technology, industry and finance. And it creates many more jobs at the bottom for folks that serve the “better off” at restaurants and in health spas, but hardly enough in the middle — notably production jobs in manufacturing and construction, where some of the best wages are paid for ordinary workers.

This is not a scheme hatched by the top ten percent

New technologies permit and competition requires businesses to make products and erect structures with many fewer — but more specialized and highly-skilled — workers. Those good-paying jobs in the middle are for technicians, mechanics and other modern tradespersons who are in short supply.

This critical bottleneck limits investments in domestically-based industrial activities. It is an important reason why growth during the Bush-Obama years has been half the pace of the Reagan-Clinton years, and real family incomes are falling.

Multinationals can invest in Asia, where they can find the workers they need. American professionals at the top of those businesses who provide the vision and string the beads — those who conceive new products, manage complex global supply chains and put together the difficult financial structures on Wall Street — can demand high salaries, because they are effectively selling their services globally.

More college graduates does not mean greater equality

President Obama’s education policy is simple: Folks with a college education on average earn more money so to raise family incomes, jam more young folks into colleges with cheap student loans and Pell grants.

That’s like observing folks drink more Coke on hot days, then giving away soft drinks to get more sunny summer afternoons.

America sends far too many kids to college — especially inexpensive to staff programs in the social sciences and humanities — and many return home after four years heavily in debt but with few career ready skills.

Universities are producing enough graduates in advanced engineering, management and finance to do the big jobs that pay well but hardly enough with the skills to fill the trades positions in the middle — but that really is not their mission.

The expansion of vocational training is essential

The federal and state governments need to limit student loans and curtail funding at many universities — especially, liberal arts programs enrolling students from the second and third quartiles of high school graduating classes. Those young people and the money supporting their enrollment should be redirected into expanded high school and community college apprenticeship and technical programs, which are currently scarce and terribly underfunded.

Globalization makes this shift of money and human resources imperative if America’s front line workers are to compete with low-wage, and often subsidized, labor in Asia. Without a skills advantage, those Americans are pushed into those minimum and other low wage jobs Obama talks so much about.

Laws mandating higher pay won’t make those workers more productive or competitive. Instead, as the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates, raising the minimum wage would destroy hundreds of thousands of jobs and make inequality worse.

Facing such legislation, McDonalds plans to roll out machines that will take customer orders and replace counter clerks, and those will spread to other convenience restaurants and businesses.

A president who tells parents to send their kids to trade school instead of college would face a firestorm from voters. Even upper-middle middle class and professional families have children with widely varying abilities and would strongly resist putting some on a vocational track.

Still, a national policy to expand vocational training at the expense of higher education is absolutely essential if the United States is going to continue to grow, prosper and remain secure.

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A New World Emerges http://www.theglobalist.com/a-new-world-emerges/ http://www.theglobalist.com/a-new-world-emerges/#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 06:00:58 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=35490 By The Globalist

How much do you know about the global economy?

Credit:  JJ Studio  - Shutterstock.comHow much do you know about the global economy?

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By The Globalist

How much do you know about the global economy?

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The world that we are all so familiar with is rapidly changing before our eyes. It’s no longer the case that the richest countries have the largest economies.

To see how much the world is changing, ask yourself which of the following statements is true:

A. Indonesia’s economy is larger than the UK’s?
B. Brazil’s economy is larger than France’s?
C. India’s economy is larger than Japan’s?
D. Russia’s economy is larger than Germany’s?

A. Indonesia’s economy is larger than the UK’s is correct.

Indonesia inaugurated a new president, Joko Widodo, in October 2014. Since Jokowi (as he is commonly known) is the first president not to have ties to the country’s political and military elites, many Indonesians have pinned their hopes of economic betterment on him.

Jokowi is taking office at a momentous time. In 2013, for the first time ever, Indonesia’s economy surpassed the United Kingdom to become the world’s ninth-largest.

According to the IMF, Indonesia’s GDP last year was $2.39 trillion (measured in terms of purchasing power parity), just slightly higher than the United Kingdom’s $2.32 trillion. Purchasing power parity is a way of factoring in the differences in the costs of goods and services that exist between countries.

Covering 1.9 million sq. km of land rich in timber, minerals and oil, Indonesia is about eight times larger than the UK. Its population, at 250 million, is more than four times larger than the UK’s.

But Indonesia lags far behind the UK in some other important areas. This includes the overall quality of its infrastructure, the health and education of its workforce, and the bureaucratic hurdles that businesses face.

B. Brazil’s economy is larger than France’s is correct.

Brazil is holding a presidential run-off election on October 26, 2014. Incumbent President Dilma Rousseff, the first woman to hold the office, is running for a second term against challenger Aécio Neves.

As of 2013, Brazil’s GDP (measured at purchasing power parity) was just over $3 trillion, compared to France’s $2.53 trillion. The two countries are the world’s seventh-largest and eighth-largest economies, respectively.

Brazil’s economy surpassed France’s for the first time back in 2007 — and the GDP gap has increased in every year since. Like Indonesia, Brazil enjoys two huge economic advantages: abundant natural resources and a large population.

Encompassing the resource-rich Amazon river system and rain forest, Brazil covers 8.5 million sq. kilometers and is more than 15 times the size of France. Brazil’s population (200 million) is nearly three times larger than France’s (66 million).

C. India’s economy is larger than Japan’s is correct.

India, too, inaugurated a new leader in 2014: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who took office in May.

In 2008, India moved ahead of Japan to become the third-largest economy in the world, according to IMF data. By 2013, the Indian economy was 45% larger than Japan’s (measured in terms of purchasing power parity).

However, while many emerging markets are catching up to — or surpassing — Western economies in overall size, they still lag far behind in terms of per capita incomes and living standards.

In fact, none of the five largest emerging market economies — China, India, Russia, Brazil and Indonesia — have a higher per capita GDP than any of the five largest industrial economies (the United States, Japan, Germany, France and the UK). Indeed, the gap is still huge.

Per capita GDP in the largest industrial economies ranges from a low of $36,200 in the United Kingdom to a high of $53,000 in the United States. By contrast, per capita GDP in the richest emerging market nation, Russia, is $24,300 — about two-thirds the level of the UK.

Russia is followed by Brazil ($15,000), China ($11,900), Indonesia ($9,600) and India ($5,450).

D. Russia’s economy is larger than Germany’s is not correct.

Only a very thin margin separates the world’s fifth- and sixth-largest economies, Germany and Russia. At $3.51 trillion (measured in terms of purchasing power parity), Germany’s economy was just 0.6% larger than Russia’s ($3.49 trillion) in 2013, according to IMF data.

It is an open question as to whether Russia’s economy will be able to move ahead of Germany’s soon. The Russian economy is currently being pinched by Western sanctions over its involvement in Ukraine and by the falling price of oil, its main export.

Looking at the global rankings, the world’s ten largest economies are equally divided between five advanced Western economies and five emerging markets. At the top of list are the United States and China.

As of 2013, there was just a 4% difference in the size of the U.S. and Chinese economies — $16.77 trillion to $16.15 trillion. According to some estimates, the Chinese economy will overtake the U.S. economy as the world’s largest as soon as this year.

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Europe’s Rules? Forget About Them http://www.theglobalist.com/europes-rules-forget-about-them/ http://www.theglobalist.com/europes-rules-forget-about-them/#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 06:00:50 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=35499 By Stephan Richter

The rest of the world has it all wrong: The EU isn’t obsessing about rules.

Credit:  solkanar  - Shutterstock.comThe rest of the world has it all wrong: The EU isn’t obsessing about rules.

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By Stephan Richter

The rest of the world has it all wrong: The EU isn’t obsessing about rules.

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The most common charge leveled against the EU in general, and the European Commission in Brussels in particular, is that Europe is drowning in rules.

The leaders of key EU nations are evidently determined to prove this globally held notion to be wrong. Consider the case of David Cameron at the recent EU summit.

Faced with an entirely predictable 1.9 billion euro charge for an extra contribution to the EU budget, a result of Britain’s solid economic recovery, the British Prime Minister decided to storm out of the summit meeting, red-faced, indignant and battle-ready.

That had some people confused. After all, Britons always make a big point about their strong advocacy of the rule of law. Therefore, one would assume, they must also support key rules an organization like the EU has given itself on prickly matters such as financing of the EU budget.

Cameron’s camera-ready act of intemperateness proves otherwise. It underscores that British officials are mainly keen to insist that others follow rules – but evidently not when it comes to their own material interests are affected. Then, a lot of flexibility may be demanded all of a sudden in bending the rules.

France and the rules

Not missing a beat, France’s President François Hollande chimed in very quickly, in an almost oracle-like fashion.

Asked what he would do in the British Prime Minister’s shoes, he answered that he knew what he will do in his own case – take the money. (France, like Germany, stands to benefit from a rebate of a payment already made, since earlier calculations proved too high.)

Of course, France’s love of EU rules – like England’s – only goes so far. Principally, wouldn’t you have guessed it, it is ardently practiced only when the outcomes are in its own favor.

But when the shoe is on the other foot – and France would have to play by the commonly set rules – the French expect the same “flexibility” as does Mr. Cameron.

Case in point: The French government is about to miss the EU’s excessive budget deficit target for the third time in a row – but who’s to worry?

Not the country’s Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, helpfully explaining that “France should be respected, it’s a big country.”

The logical conclusion? The EU’s rules are evidently just for littler nations of Europe. Poor suckers, them.

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Capturing Traditional Life in Russia http://www.theglobalist.com/capturing-traditional-life-in-russia/ http://www.theglobalist.com/capturing-traditional-life-in-russia/#comments Sun, 26 Oct 2014 08:00:18 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=35030 By The Globalist

Two elderly sisters embody a sometimes forgotten but not abandoned traditional style of living in Russia.

Credit: Nadia Sablin - The Other HundredTwo elderly sisters embody a sometimes forgotten but not abandoned traditional style of living in Russia.

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By The Globalist

Two elderly sisters embody a sometimes forgotten but not abandoned traditional style of living in Russia.

Credit: Nadia Sablin - The Other Hundred

Nadia Sablin lives and works out of Brooklyn, New York City, but she grew up in Soviet Russia and the American Midwest. Her photographs have been featured in museums and galleries. She captures images from primarily Russia and the United States.

•  •  •

Sisters Aleftina and Ludmila Sablina spend half of each year in a small Russian village that has changed little over the decades. Both in their 70s, they carry on with their traditional way of life, chopping wood for heating, bringing water from the well and making their own clothes.

The sisters lived together when they were children, then worked in technical jobs: Aleftina in engineering, Ludmila in chemistry.

Neither married nor had children. Now they live off their pensions and some help from their other siblings. When not in Alekhovshchina, they each stay in their own apartment in separate towns, visiting each other occasionally.

Text and photographs by Nadia Sablin


russia-8  Enlarge   The sisters gather the last batch of strawberries in their garden.

russia-1-resize Enlarge   Ludmila poses on a birch tree stump with a rusty sickle.

russia-6-resize Enlarge   The sisters use a two-handed saw to cut wood. While most neighbors have upgraded to chainsaws, they continue to use tools that have been in the family for decades.

russia-5-resize Enlarge   Aleftina and Ludmila bring planks scavenged from a sawmill reject pile. The planks will either be used to build a new fence or burned in their stove.


Nadia Sablin lives and works out of Brooklyn, New York City, but she grew up in Soviet Russia and the American Midwest. Her photographs have been featured in museums and galleries. She captures images from primarily Russia and the United States.

The Other Hundred is a unique photo-book project (order here) aimed as a counterpoint to the Forbes 100 and other media rich lists by telling the stories of people around the world who are not rich but who deserve to be celebrated.

Its 100 photo-stories move beyond the stereotypes and cliches that fill so much of the world’s media to explore the lives of people whose aspirations and achievements are at least as noteworthy as any member of the world’s richest 1,000.

Selected from 11,000 images shot in 158 countries and submitted by nearly 1,500 photographers, The Other Hundred celebrates those who will never find themselves on the world’s rich lists or celebrity websites.

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Chelsea and Beyond: How the Rich Will Destroy Soccer http://www.theglobalist.com/chelsea-and-beyond-how-the-rich-will-destroy-soccer/ http://www.theglobalist.com/chelsea-and-beyond-how-the-rich-will-destroy-soccer/#comments Sat, 25 Oct 2014 06:00:55 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=35272 By Alexei Bayer

The excess of capital pouring into professional soccer will inevitably bring about its demise.

Credit: cunaplus-  Shutterstock.comThe excess of capital pouring into professional soccer will inevitably bring about its demise.

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By Alexei Bayer

The excess of capital pouring into professional soccer will inevitably bring about its demise.

Credit: cunaplus-  Shutterstock.com

The old Jamaican saying, “The humblest calf drinks the most milk,” seems to have been invented to describe Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich.

Members of Vladimir Putin’s inner circle have been slapped with international sanctions and have seen their visas to Europe and North America revoked and their Italian villas and other assets frozen. Even so, Abramovich still enjoys a warm welcome in the United States and the UK.

Yet, Abramovich has been one of Putin’s closest associates and, according to some prominent opposition figures in Russia, possibly doubles as his bagman. He allegedly holds a portion of the Putin’s multibillion-dollar fortune that he has amassed while ruling the country.

Whether or not it’s true, Abramovich has certainly been Putin’s role model. In 2008, Putin seriously contemplated leaving Russian politics.

Putin wanted to live the life of the international super-rich set, much like Abramovich: getting serially married to beautiful young women, traveling the world in a luxurious private yacht, collecting modern art and owning world-class sports teams.

Unfortunately for Putin – and perhaps for Russia as well – he didn’t retire because he couldn’t get a viable successor who could guarantee his own physical safety.

Money means glory

Abramovich is not hugely popular among ordinary Russians – no Jewish oligarch is – but he certainly has earned the gratitude of millions of long-suffering Chelsea fans. The club, which previously had won the English championship just once, back in 1955, has been on top of the Premier League three times since Abramovich bought it in 2003.

In 2012, Chelsea won the coveted Champion’s League title. This year, Chelsea looks like it’s not going to lose a single match and will win every trophy it is competing for.

Of course, sports teams in general and soccer especially have always been playthings of the wealthy. Sports have become big business. Star players command astronomical salaries and are true national heroes in an age when national heroes are sorely lacking. Teams need deep-pocketed investors – and the rich love the publicity associated with being team owners.

But the rise of the international super-rich set over the past couple of decades is changing the nature of high-visibility sports such as soccer. Large fortunes today are really, really large. The top ten billionaires on the Forbes list have the combined net worth of over half a trillion dollars.

A new class of super-rich

To get into the ranks of the world’s top 500 billionaires, you now need $3.3 billion. Back in 2000, the top ten were worth just $280 billion, half as much as today’s bunch, and there were only 322 billionaires in the entire world total. While the fortunes of the super-rich doubled, the average household income in the UK, for example, went up by just one third.

Plutocrats have become a new global ruling class. They live in an effectively borderless world, socialize with other rich people around the globe, keep their fortunes in low-tax havens and influence the political process in their own countries in such a manner that they pay little or no taxes.

Abramovich is not the only rich foreigner with deep pockets and time on his hands to own a Premier League club. In fact, English owners in the Barclays Premier League are in a minority. Only Tottenham Hotspurs among even fairly remote contenders for the championship title have English owners.

Not surprisingly, the list of international owners includes other Russians, Americans, people from the Persian Gulf and the Far East. They are bringing a lot of money to the table.

Billionaires are pouring money into the league

In the ten years that Abramovich has owned Chelsea, his team spent nearly £900 million ($1.5 billion) in transfer fees, or nearly £600 million ($966 million) net, adding up the money earned by selling players. It is the absolute champion in this category, but Manchester City is just behind, with £760 million ($1.2 billion). Manchester United is third, with nearly £600 million.

In the first year of Abramovich’s ownership, the team spent over £150 million ($241 million) on the likes of Hernan Crespo, Damien Duff and Arien Robben – each commanding around £16-17 million ($27 million) in transfer fees – while the club earned just £100,000 from the sale of players.

Manchester City, meanwhile, was bought by another oilman, this one based in Abu Dhabi, Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan. Well, wouldn’t you know it? In the three years after his September 2008 purchase, Man City spent £400 million ($644 million) in transfer fees.

Predictably, by 2012, Man City was on top of the Premier League after not winning top honors for over four decades. It then repeated this feat last year. And in 2013 it missed being the champion by a whisker.

American Stan Kroenke, a real estate magnate and, not coincidentally, the husband of a Walmart heiress, is a well-known sports entrepreneur. He owns Arsenal, a team that spent £82 million ($132 million) on transfers last summer.

Last summer’s record transfer, Angel Di Maria, cost Manchester United £59 million ($95 million). Man United is owned by the Glazer family of the United States, and the team spent £145 million ($233 million) on transfer fees last summer.

As a result, the Premier League is divided into the haves and have-nots. True, Southampton and West Ham are in the top five in the early goings of the current Premier League season, West Ham is number 12 in spending among the 20 Premier League teams over the past decade, and Southampton takes the lowly 19th spot.

But in 2013, they came in 13th and 9th, respectively, at the end of the season, missing all the European competitions. The year before, they were 10th and 14th, respectively. In other words, their final standings in the table correlated strongly with their spending.

Competition only exists among the wealthy

This year’s Premier League championship is likely to be a contest between deep-pocketed oilmen from Russia and Abu Dhabi, Chelsea and Man City.

You can see this is the wave of the future – or a throwback to the past. In Ancient Rome, winning generals returning from foreign wars with plenty of loot and political aspirations, would pay for gladiatorial combat to be enjoyed by the Roman plebs.

Actually, in many European countries, national championships are already contests between the two or three soccer teams rich enough to afford top players. Other teams mainly serve as whipping boys. Their only real choice is to develop future stars who would play for them for a season or two in their late teens before being bought up by the super rich clubs.

The only interesting competition is therefore on the European stage, where top super clubs from different soccer powers compete against each other. But even among the super clubs, deep divisions will soon start to arise.

Teams from Northern Europe, with its social democratic, egalitarian traditions, will no longer be able to compete with ones owned by international plutocrats and the Anglo-Saxon winner-take-all model.

Lessons from the United States

The United States has had a much longer experience dealing with the super-rich and Americans are familiar with their ways.

As the super-rich class emerged, U.S. professional sports leagues began running into a similar problem. Rich teams from large, lucrative markets started to dominate their sports and grab all the best players. To save the rich from themselves, American leagues adopted salary caps.

The European ruling body for soccer, UEFA, is also trying to do something about it, but it got it all wrong. It now wants teams to live within their budgets, i.e., spend only a little more than they rake in from ticket sales, television rights and various merchandise they market around the world.

Abramovich’s own creation of Chelsea over the past decade shows how this idea is a non-starter. By sinking a huge investment into a previously mediocre club, Abramovich created a global powerhouse that regularly plays – and wins – European competition and draws huge television receipts.

With the crème de la crème of world soccer wearing its dark blue uniform, Chelsea has also become an enormous global brand with corresponding merchandise sales. Like other public entities, UEFA is less and less willing – and able – to stand up to the moneyed class.

A cautionary tale

Soccer is more popular today than ever before. So far, the fans of the “also-ran” teams keep attending soccer matches in record numbers and watching their behinds get whipped.

They don’t seem to mind that the Chelsea’s and the Man Cities of this world are running roughshod over their favorites (which may be the reason why they stay poor and downtrodden).

But the interest in such one-way contests will eventually flag. A cautionary tale comes from Abramovich’s own motherland. In the 1980s, Soviet hockey was shuffled by sports functionaries to make sure that the Soviet Union won all the gold medals in all international competition.

The Red Army team got all the good players and became, effectively, the Soviet All-Stars. Not surprisingly, the other clubs, weakened by this transfer policy, kept losing to it with the identical score of 6-1. By the time the Soviet Union collapsed ten years later, fewer than a thousand spectators could be lured to watch domestic hockey games.

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Bolivia: Where Socialism Appears to Work http://www.theglobalist.com/where-socialism-appears-to-work-a-close-up-look-at-evo-morales/ http://www.theglobalist.com/where-socialism-appears-to-work-a-close-up-look-at-evo-morales/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 06:00:47 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=35337 By Martin Hutchinson

Bolivia’s remarkable example of advancing economic and social inclusion.

Credit:  lvalin - Shutterstock.comBolivia’s remarkable example of advancing economic and social inclusion.

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By Martin Hutchinson

Bolivia’s remarkable example of advancing economic and social inclusion.

Credit:  lvalin - Shutterstock.com

Bolivian President Evo Morales recently won re-election by a smashing margin. His eight-year rule has weakened the notion of property rights in Bolivia. He has also indulged in frequent nationalizations and demonized capitalism.

And yet, the Morales years have also produced Bolivia’s best growth rates in several decades, far better than those achieved when orthodox economic policies were pursued in the 1985-2003 period.

All of this must puzzle many elites around the globe. Thus, Morales’ recent policy of making Bolivian “clocks run backwards” seems reflected by the apparent successful defiance of theory in his economics.

In reality, though, there is a fairly simple explanation, and it is an important lesson for other poor countries no less than for global elites.

Nationalization as a budget balancer

His economic policies have a certain logic to them. Through nationalization and tearing up contracts, he has enabled the Bolivian state to quadruple its revenues from minerals and energy extraction.

Fortuitously for him and his nation, this occurred at a time when prices were high. So the big bucks arrived in his state coffers. Otherwise, mining and energy companies would have made those windfall profits.

This good timing on his part has enabled Morales to increase the Bolivian welfare state without drastically unbalancing the budget. Indeed, aided by the windfall in resource revenues, his budgetary policies have been a model of restraint.

Bolivia’s performance in that regard is far better than that of most other Latin American countries, or indeed than that of the rich nations of Europe, the United States or Japan. Purely judged on his budgetary policies, we might well envisage for Morales a post-Presidential career as the successor to the United States’ Jack Lew or the UK’s George Osborne!

The results of Bolivia’s economic policies have been excellent. An average growth rate of over 5% since Morales took office in 2006, with the 2008-09 recession survived with barely a hiccup.

With the budget so close to balance, Bolivia’s international debts are also modest, although a 2008 default on outstanding international bonds for a time made it difficult for the country to borrow. However in late 2012, the hyper-liquid state of global bond markets enabled Bolivia to borrow again, raising $500 million of ten-year money at a rate of only 4.875%.

This success is in marked contrast to the fate of the “neo-liberal” policies the country pursued from 1985 until 2003. During that period, while Bolivia ended hyperinflation, growth averaged only 3.1%, barely enough to keep up with the 2.3% annual population growth, and there were a number of grinding recessions.

It is thus a paradox for supporters of free market policies. How does it happen that Morales’ statist policies are rewarded with such success, whereas better policies pursued earlier brought results that were no more than mediocre?

Part of it is the effect of commodity prices described above and of Morales’ savvy and determined renegotiation of mining and energy contracts. Obviously, if commodity and energy prices are low during the next five years, Bolivia will have considerable difficulties.

In other countries where anti-market policies have been tried, such as Argentina, resource prices provide more or less the entire rationale for the country’s relative success.

Inclusion pays for itself

What truly sets Morales apart is this: As Bolivia’s first indigenous President, Morales has made great efforts to include the indigenous community – currently about 40% of Bolivia’s population – in the formal economy. He has provided them with both welfare payments and job preferences in order to increase their participation in the economy.

This parallels the policy of Brazil’s former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. He also focused attention on the poorest members of Brazil’s very unequal society through the Bolsa familia” program. It provides subsistence payments to the very poor – in return for keeping their children in school and other basic elements of economic participation.

Like Morales’ Bolivia, Lula’s Brazil enjoyed several years of unexpectedly robust growth before, alas, running into difficulty as the public sector continued to expand and suck up resources.

It therefore appears that – in situations where a large proportion of the population is so poor that it does not participate properly in the economy – it is possible to achieve a “growth dividend” by bringing them into full participation.

As they transition into full economic activity, their output allows the national economy to grow significantly, producing extra output and extra tax revenues, while enriching the economy as a whole – and not just the elites.

Lessons to be drawn

There are two lessons to be drawn. First, in Africa in particular, it will be necessary, as countries get richer, to put into place mechanisms that enable their poorer citizens to benefit from that progress.

This especially applies to countries like South Africa, with its exceptionally high level of inequality and an exceptionally corrupt state system that has managed to raise only a small number of its African fellow citizens out of poverty.

Indeed, the unexpectedly poor economic growth rates in South Africa can directly be linked to the lack of participation in the formal economy by its poorer citizens, as the country has 25% unemployment.

South Africa is twice as rich as Bolivia, in terms of GDP per capita, but it is also even more unequal, with a GINI index of 65 compared to Bolivia’s 47, according to World Bank data.

Capitalism requires equality

Second, even decently capitalist governments need to make sure that their market economies function smoothly right down the income scale. There is little benefit in having a national economy where the gains extend only to the top half of the income distribution.

When the bottom half of the population is mired in squalid shantytowns, with no opportunities of bettering themselves, a country is on the wrong track. Continued negligence is not advised.

In uplifting the very poorest, direct cash transfers with only simple conditionality are highly effective. A program such as the Bolsa Familia costs only a couple of percent of GDP – far less than massive infrastructure schemes.

Yet, it reaches the poorest in society effectively – and, unlike infrastructure projects it cannot be gamed by economic elites – via shady corruption deals that are often part and parcel of large-sized public investment projects.

History also suggests that the simplistic cash transfer approach to welfare works better. In Britain before 1834, the poor were given “outdoor relief” in the form of cash or food handouts and therefore remained active in the economy.

In 1834, the Poor Law invented the “workhouse” – by which the poor were segregated from the rest of society in an institution that was deliberately designed to be “less eligible” (and thoroughly unpleasant for its inmates).

That move was perhaps well intended, but it produced sharp exclusion, economically and socially – not inclusion. It disastrous legacy ultimately lasts to this day.

The lesson in all this is simple enough: Capitalism, in order to function well, needs to include the entire population. Relying on simple cash handouts and work opportunities, not elaborate and counterproductive social engineering, is the way to go.

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10 Facts: Women Politicians on the Rise Globally http://www.theglobalist.com/10-facts-women-politicians-on-the-rise-globally/ http://www.theglobalist.com/10-facts-women-politicians-on-the-rise-globally/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 18:22:07 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=30605 By The Globalist

Even Sub-Saharan Africa does better than the United States.

Credit: 360b- Shutterstock.comEven Sub-Saharan Africa does better than the United States.

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By The Globalist

Even Sub-Saharan Africa does better than the United States.

Credit: 360b- Shutterstock.com

1. In 37 lower houses of parliament worldwide, women have reached the 30% threshold.

2. A share of 30% is considered necessary for women to have an impact on decision-making in parliaments.

3. Of those countries, 11 are in Africa. At the end of 2012, one-fifth of sub-Saharan MPs were female, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

4. Africa is on a par with the global mean with regard to women members of parliaments.

5. In many cases, the gains are due to quota systems, which are increasingly popular.

6. In 2012, the country with the fastest advance globally in female representation was Senegal, after it enforced a parity law.

7. South Africa ranks eighth in the world, with women holding 42% of Parliament’s seats.

8. South Africa’s 42% of women MPs is almost double the rate in 1994, when the ruling African National Congress (ANC) created a voluntary party quota, allocating 30% of posts to women.

9. Nigeria has increased its female representation slightly, from 5% to a still paltry 7%.

The Upshot At a rate of only 18% in the U.S. Congress, the representation of women there is lower than the average throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

Sources: Inter-Parliamentary Union by IPU
Women Are Winning by The Economist

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Germany, America and the Global Order http://www.theglobalist.com/germany-america-and-the-global-order/ http://www.theglobalist.com/germany-america-and-the-global-order/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 06:00:58 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=35290 By Stephen F. Szabo

How two reluctant, yet pivotal powers adjust to a pluralistic and less Western world order.

Credit: Niyazz Shutterstock.comHow two reluctant, yet pivotal powers adjust to a pluralistic and less Western world order.

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By Stephen F. Szabo

How two reluctant, yet pivotal powers adjust to a pluralistic and less Western world order.

Credit: Niyazz Shutterstock.com

Globalization in all its broad implications has reinforced tendencies for a separation of American and German economic and financial policies. Networks are replacing alliances in this new “Zero Sum World,” in which competition for markets, technology and natural resources has accelerated.

On global financial issues, Washington and Berlin have diverged in important ways. There is a concern in Washington that Germany continues to benefit from an undervalued currency, the euro, and pursues policies meant to keep the euro undervalued at the expense of both the United States and Germany’s euro zone partners.

This is part of a larger international financial struggle between export giants such as Japan, China, South Korea and Germany, which want to maintain currency stability, and countries like France, the southern euro zone, and the United States which are pushing for more stimulus and a revaluing of currencies to bring adjustments to their current accounts.

The United States and Germany at odds

Given the longstanding and nonpartisan support in Germany for stability, low inflation, and responsible fiscal policies, German governments continue to turn a deaf ear to both European and American calls for stimulating demand.

Also in the area of information technology and internet governance, Germany and the United States are becoming rivals.

The harsh critique in Germany of the U.S. high tech companies in the wake of the Snowden NSA revelations have resulted in calls to create a European or German cloud, which can threaten the lucrative European market for companies like Apple, Facebook and Google.

These firms have lobbied intensely in Washington to limit the damage from the NSA scandal and are a factor in the Obama administration’s attempts to heal the rift with Berlin over cyber. German calls for a digital dialogue have still not been addressed by Washington.

The United States has a tendency to look to its imposing military instruments in dealing with foreign policy while Germany, being an economic juggernaut, tends to see economics as a main instrument in dealing with global and regional problems.

This has resulted in a major gap between a more military-oriented global power like the United States and an economic global power like Germany. Rather than a contrast between Mars and Venus, it is one between Mars and Mercury, the Roman god of Commerce.

A key question for the future is whether the foreign policy of Germany will be one of Germany, Inc., with few allies but many customers and suppliers.

Developments in Russia and the eastern neighborhood have begun to force Germany to weigh its economic interests against larger strategic ones concerning the security order of Europe. However, this is not the case in regard to Germany’s geo-economic approach outside of Europe.

Germany is at a turning point

With the United States ceding leadership to Berlin on the Ukraine crisis and the willingness of Chancellor Angela Merkel to impose sanctions on Russia, Germany is clearly at a decisive point in its international strategy.

Its risk-averse approach in a more risk-prone world may not work and Germany is already being forced to take on a larger strategic role beyond a purely economic one.

The decline of American power and leadership and the decline of France and Britain as reliable partners have increased pressures on Germany to play a more strategic leadership role.

As Josef Janning has observed, “Berlin’s foreign policy machine works best when it can support, encourage, help and reward. It struggles when it has to employ dissuasion, sanctions, or red lines.” Both Berlin and Washington will now have to redefine their relationship in this rapidly changing context.

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Madam Ministers http://www.theglobalist.com/madam-ministers-quiz/ http://www.theglobalist.com/madam-ministers-quiz/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 21:00:25 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=35324 By The Globalist

The state of female cabinet members around the world.

Credit: LANTERIA- Shutterstock.comThe state of female cabinet members around the world.

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By The Globalist

The state of female cabinet members around the world.

Credit: LANTERIA- Shutterstock.com

In September 2014, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attempted to set a powerful example for the Japanese economy by appointing women to powerful positions in his cabinet. The message was clear – Japan will only restore vibrant economic growth by attracting more of its highly educated women back into the workforce. In the wake of news that two of Abe’s female ministers have resigned –

We wonder: Which major government currently has the highest percentage of women in its cabinet?

A. China
B. United States
C. Japan
D. European Union

A. China is not correct.

Mao Zedong, the founder of the People’s Republic of China, once said that “women hold up half the sky.” But Mao’s proclamation of gender equality is not evident in China’s leadership council, the Politburo.

Led by President Xi Jinping, the Politburo consists of 24 members, only two of whom are women. That means only 8.3% of Xi’s cabinet — the executives who oversee the implementation of government policy on behalf of the president — is female.

Formally, the Politburo is the leadership apparatus of the Communist Party of China. However, its members simultaneously hold powerful positions in the Chinese central government as well as important regional positions (such as party chiefs of major cities like Shanghai and Guangdong).

The two women on the Politburo are Vice Premier Liu Yandong and Tianjin party chief Sun Chunlan. When the current Politburo took office, in November 2012, it was falsely rumored that Liu could be tapped as the first female member of the influential Standing Committee of the Politburo. The Standing Committee meets weekly and consists of the seven most senior and powerful Politburo members.

B. United States is not correct.

The U.S. Constitution acknowledges that the President “may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments.” These opinion givers are commonly known as the President’s cabinet.

It took 145 years from the ratification of the Constitution in 1788 for one of those opinion givers to be a woman. In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Frances Perkins to be Secretary of Labor. Perkins — one of only two of Roosevelt’s cabinet to serve throughout his entire 12-year presidency — was a key official in designing and implementing the New Deal.

Today, President Barack Obama’s cabinet consists of 23 officials, including the secretaries of the 15 departmental agencies. Several other officials — including the Vice President, the President’s chief-of-staff and the ambassador to the UN — also have cabinet-level status.

Only six of those officials are women — or 26%. During Obama’s first term, women made up 35% of the cabinet — including, most prominently, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. That was higher than the 23% in President George W. Bush’s cabinet, but less than the 41% in President Bill Clinton’s cabinet.

C. Japan is not correct.

After a reshuffling in September 2014, the cabinet of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe contained five women. That number — representing 28% of Abe’s 18-member cabinet — matched the all-time high number of women in minister-level positions in Japanese history

Unfortunately for Abe, two of the women – Justice Minister Midori Matsushima and Economics Minister Yuko Obuchi – were forced to resign After just a month in their positions in the wake of campaign finance scandals. However, both positions have been filled, including Justice Minister, which is now held by Yoko Kawakami, a woman.

Abe became prime minister in December 2012 with a mandate to jolt Japan’s moribund economy back to life. One of his strategies is “womenomics” — inducing more of Japan’s highly educated but underemployed women into the workforce to take the place of the country’s large number of retiring workers.

The percentage of women in managerial positions in Japan’s private sector is just 11%, one of the lowest rates in the world. In the United States, the corresponding figure is 43%, while in France it is 39%.

Women now lead Japan’s justice, internal affairs, economics and trade, and women’s affairs ministries, as well as the national public safety commission.

D. European Union is correct.

In June 2014, the leaders of the European Union’s 28 member states selected Jean-Claude Juncker to be president of the European Commission. The European Commission — which consists of the president and 27 commissioners from the other member states — is responsible for conducting the EU’s day-to-day affairs, proposing legislation to the European Parliament and upholding the EU’s treaties.

When it formally takes office in November, Juncker’s commission will include nine women — or a third of the 27 commissioners. That is the same number as on the outgoing commission of José Manuel Barroso of Spain.

The highest profile woman on the Juncker Commission is Italy’s Federica Mogherini, who will be the EU’s foreign policy chief. Mogherini’s selection was viewed critically by those who want to see the EU adopt a tougher stance toward Russia’s encroachment of Ukraine.

The cabinet of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Europe’s most prominent female leader, is 31% female (5 of 16). In Britain, David Cameron’s cabinet is 25% female (8 of 32). Half of the 16 ministers in the cabinet of French Prime Minister Manuel Valls are women — and slightly more than half (9 of 17) in the cabinet of Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

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