BERKELEY – Blackstone CEOTony James recentlypublished a columnin the Financial Timestitled“To revive America’s economy, raise interest rates.” This is a very bad idea.
VENICE – “The main element of any US policy towards the Soviet Union must be that of a long-term, patient but firm and vigilant containment,” the US diplomat George Kennan wrote in 1947 in a Foreign Affairs article, famously signed “X.” Replace “Soviet Union” with “Russia,” and Kennan’s “containment policy” makes perfect sense today. It is almost as if, in nearly 70 years, nothing has changed, even as everything has.
LONDON – British Prime Minister Theresa May once warned her fellow Conservatives of the perils of being known as the “nasty party.” But after 100 days in office, she is in danger of going further, turning the United Kingdom into the nasty country.
LONDON – In recent months, nongovernmental organizations and journalists have accused the United Nations of bias toward Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and failure to distribute humanitarian aid to rebel-controlled areas of Syria. To an extent, these criticisms are justified. The UN does work closely with the Syrian government, and humanitarian aid has not consistently reached areas outside of government control. But the detractors overlook an inherent contradiction in the UN’s responsibilities in countries facing civil war.
CAIRO – The Middle East, and especially the Arab world, is experiencing a period of fundamental change and even more fundamental challenges. But the region’s ability to meet the many challenges that it faces has been complicated by national, regional, and international disagreements about what form change – both across the region and in individual societies – should take.
BERN, LONDON, GENEVA –October 24, 2016, should be a unique day in the history of polio. If all goes according to plan, it will be the last annual World Polio Day before the disease is eradicated. But now is not the time for celebration or complacency; whilewe know how to eliminate polio, we have not yet finished the job.
SEOUL – We are living in dangerous and uncertain times. The United States is engaged in a bizarre and highly polarized presidential election. Its relationship with an increasingly revisionist Russia is undergoing what is essentially a “re-set” in reverse, while Russia’s revisionism is also putting pressure on a Europe already plagued by uncertainty in the wake of the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union. Meanwhile, the Middle East is imploding, with wars in Syria and Yemen fueling a large-scale refugee crisis.
AUSTIN, TEXAS – Four hundred years ago, John Rolfe used tobacco seeds pilfered from the West Indies to develop Virginia’s first profitable export, undermining the tobacco trade of Spain’s Caribbean colonies. More than 200 years later, another Briton, Henry Wickham, took seeds for a rubber-bearing tree from Brazil to Asia – via that great colonialist institution, London’s Royal Botanic Gardens – thereby setting the stage for the eventual demise of the Amazonian rubber boom.
CAMBRIDGE – Because traditional financial services are not designed for small depositors and borrowers, several non-traditional models have been able to scale up rapidly in this untapped market. But, without a strategic policy roadmap to guide further financial-technology (fintech) development, these new “connector” models will remain limited in terms of the services they can provide.
CAIRO – The Republican Party’s candidate for the American presidency, Donald Trump, is clearly not the GOP establishment’s first choice. Even this close to the November 8 election, more than a few prominent Republicans refuse to endorse him, and it goes without saying that Democrats loathe him. He won his party’s nomination because he was by far the most popular choice among Republican primary voters.