BEIRUT – In Lebanon today, all the symptoms of the Middle East’s current turmoil are visible. Newly arrived refugees from Syria and Iraq are joining Palestinian refugees who have long been here. The country hasn’t had a president for two years, as rival political factions, reflecting the rising enmity between their Iranian and Saudi Arabian backers, are weakening domestic governance. Political corruption runs rampant. The garbage doesn’t always get picked up.
KARKAMIŞ, TURKEY – Soon after Turkey officially entered the fray in Syria last month, some 350 Turkish troops marched alongside more than 1,000 US-equipped Syrian rebel forces to clear the Islamic State (ISIS) out of the Syrian city of Jarablus, north of Aleppo. The battle was over before it began: the ISIS fighters fled before Turkish tanks rolled in. But the conflict, far from being over, is about to become even more complicated.
LAGOS – This year is turning out to be one of global disruption. We’re seeing not only political upheaval and economic uncertainty, but also transformational innovation and the emergence of fresh thinking.
CAMBRIDGE – The world is awash in paper currency, with major country central banks pumping out hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth each year, mainly in very large denomination notes such as the $100 bill. The $100 bill accounts for almost 80% of the US’s stunning $4,200 per capita cash supply. The ¥10,000 note (about $100) accounts for roughly 90% of all Japan’s currency, where per capita cash holdings are almost $7,000. And, as I have been arguing for two decades, all this cash is facilitating growth mainly in the underground economy, not the legal one.
BERKELEY – These are days of grave disillusionment with the state of the world. Sinister forces of fanatical, faith-based killing – something that we in the West, at least, thought had largely ended by 1750 – are back. And they have been joined by and are reinforcing forces of nationalism, bigotry, and racism that we thought had been largely left in the ruins of Berlin in 1945.
WASHINGTON, DC – Much attention in the United States and elsewhere is focused on whether US presidential candidate Donald Trump will shift away from the anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and anti-rational rhetoric that carried him to the Republican Party nomination. Some of his advisers are reportedly recommending that he move toward “mainstream” Republican positions, such as those held by the leadership of the House of Representatives.
YAOUNDÉ – Development economists often differ with one another, but they agree on this: the knowledge economy will be the foundation of every nation’s progress in the twenty-first century. Yet while East Asia and other regions have been making substantial gains in building a knowledge economy, Africa has not.
CAMBRIDGE – Donald Trump doesn’t like Latin Americans and advocates building a wall to separate them from the United States. As usual with such snubs, Latin Americans tend to reciprocate the sentiment, as do Muslims and others who feel affronted by the Republican Party’s presidential nominee. But many of those who dislike Trump share his passion for restrictive immigration policies.
SEATTLE – The world’s population is getting bigger – and older. With the elderly increasingly close to outnumbering their younger counterparts – by 2050, there will be nearly three times more people aged 65 and above than people under four years old – many fear that the burden on government budgets, health-care systems, and economies will become untenable. But there is something we can do to ease that burden: improve the health of the elderly.
DUBAI – In September 1960, delegates from Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela met in Baghdad to form the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. As the world’s dependence on oil increased, so did OPEC’s power. Today, with many developing countries, including a majority of the countries in the Middle East, serving as some of the world’s main labor exporters, might it be time to consider the formation of an OPEC-like cartel for migrant workers?