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China needs a more carefully thought out plan for sustainable longevity

China’s bumpy new normal

China needs a more carefully thought out plan for sustainable longevity

China’s shift from export-driven growth to a model based on domestic services and household consumption has been much bumpier than some anticipated, with stock-market gyrations and exchange-rate volatility inciting fears about the country’s economic s...

As a result of its slow processes and over-complicated bureaucracy, the World Bank has become the last choice for countries in need of funding

How to save the World Bank

As a result of its slow processes and over-complicated bureaucracy, the World Bank has become the last choice for countries in need of funding

The World Bank is quietly sliding into insignificance, as its core fee-paying clients increasingly seek other lenders. If it is to survive, its management will need to streamline its loan approval processes and leverage the unique assets that distinguish ...

Overwhelmed by debt, Puerto Rico appears to be following in the footsteps of Greece. There are several key lessons to be learned from
the Greek crisis that could save the island from financial ruin

The Greece of the Caribbean

Overwhelmed by debt, Puerto Rico appears to be following in the footsteps of Greece. There are several key lessons to be learned from
the Greek crisis that could save the island from financial ruin

There was a time when it might have been said that Puerto Rico, in the midst of a wrenching debt crisis, was returning to its Latin roots. After all, Latin American governments were once world leaders in over-indebtedness. But the US’ public debt now st...

Economic struggles in Europe could severely impact the US in the long term

The danger of a weak Europe

Economic struggles in Europe could severely impact the US in the long term

In 1973, US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, following a period of American preoccupation with Vietnam and China, declared a “year of Europe”. More recently, after President Barack Obama announced a US strategic “pivot”, or rebalancing, tow...

When it comes to economics, there are no clear guidelines for what to do when there’s financial fallout, as seen in 2008, and how to deal with the repercussions

Do financial modellers need a Hippocratic Oath?

When it comes to economics, there are no clear guidelines for what to do when there’s financial fallout, as seen in 2008, and how to deal with the repercussions

Economics has long modelled itself after hard sciences such as physics and engineering. For example, we speak of ‘financial engineers’, who use sophisticated models to mathematically eliminate risk (in theory). However, in the immediate aftermath of w...

When thinking about economic predictions in relation to quantum physics, it’s a slight concern when the latter seems easier to decipher

An uncertain forecast

When thinking about economic predictions in relation to quantum physics, it’s a slight concern when the latter seems easier to decipher

The physicist Niels Bohr is attributed with the saying that “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.” Indeed, it may be that when it comes to the economy, forecasting is even harder than Bohr’s specialty of quantum mechanics. E...

Austerity has become a toxic word across Europe, and while the stats in Spain indicate that the country has benefited from such measures, looks can be deceptive

The pain in Spain

Austerity has become a toxic word across Europe, and while the stats in Spain indicate that the country has benefited from such measures, looks can be deceptive

Spain is the eurozone’s latest poster child for austerity and structural reforms. Its economy has expanded for eight consecutive quarters, steadily gaining momentum and easily outperforming the rest of the currency union. Export growth has matched that ...

Making student loans more affordable could be detrimental to the economy

America’s education bubble

Making student loans more affordable could be detrimental to the economy

One of the fundamental purposes of government is to advance important public goods. But, if not handled carefully, the pursuit of significant social goals can have unfortunate economic and financial consequences, sometimes even leading to systemic disrupt...

Regulations are needed to prevent would-be crowdfunding investors from being swindled

Finding a reliable source

Regulations are needed to prevent would-be crowdfunding investors from being swindled

If one were seeking a perfect example of why it’s so hard to make financial markets work well, one would not have to look further than the difficulties and controversies surrounding crowdfunding in the US. After deliberating for more than three years, t...

Corrupt policies mean that interpreting a nation's financial standing can be a minefield

When financial markets misread politics

Corrupt policies mean that interpreting a nation’s financial standing can be a minefield

When Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) defied pundits and pollsters by regaining a parliamentary majority in the country’s general election on November 1, financial markets cheered. The next day, the Istanbul stock exchange rose by more tha...

Our intervention in poor countries is stopping their governments improving

Helping poor countries could be crushing them in the long-run

Our intervention in poor countries is stopping their governments improving

In Scotland, I was brought up to think of policemen as allies and to ask one for help when I needed it. Imagine my surprise when, as a 19-year-old on my first visit to the US, I was met by a stream of obscenities from a New York City cop who was directing...

The fall of the BRICS shows that the US is still indispensible to the world economy

The BRICS fallacy

The fall of the BRICS shows that the US is still indispensible to the world economy

The recent downgrade of Brazil’s credit rating to junk status was followed by a raft of articles heralding the crumbling of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). How predictable: schadenfreude almost always follows bad news about t...

The chopping and changing of Australia's government makes it look like a pantomime

Australia’s revolving door of politicians is an embarrassment

The chopping and changing of Australia’s government makes it look like a pantomime

Australia has a new prime minister – its fifth in just eight years. No Australian prime minister has served a full electoral term since 2007, and we have had four incumbents in the last 27 months alone. In June 2013, Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard w...

Canada proves that state intervention in real estate is not necessarily a bad thing

Owning the market

Canada proves that state intervention in real estate is not necessarily a bad thing

What happens when governments own markets? When prices are backed by the state for political reasons? Where the state does everything it can to encourage people to make highly leveraged bets on the market – and steps in to intervene whenever something g...

Nuclear fusion could work - but only if we cough up some money

Is nuclear fusion the best way to support rising energy demands?

Nuclear fusion could work – but only if we cough up some money

This December, world leaders will gather in Paris for the United Nations Climate Change Conference, where they will attempt – yet again – to hammer out a global agreement to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Despite the inevitable sense of déjà vu th...

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