MANCHESTER – China’s human-rights abuses against its own people are no secret. But its abuse of North Korean women who flee to China to escape human-rights violations at home has remained largely hidden. I, however, know the truth, because I am one of those women.
LONDON – The legend of King Canute describes how an early Anglo-Saxon King showed his subjects the limits of royal power. Canute set his throne by the sea and commanded the rising tide to turn back. When the sea rose as usual and soaked Canute, he told his courtiers: “Now let all men know how empty is the power of kings.”
CAMBRIDGE – In game theory, the “price of anarchy” describes how individuals acting in their own self-interest within a larger system tend to reduce that larger system’s efficiency. It is a ubiquitous phenomenon, one that almost all of us confront, in some form, on a regular basis.
LONDON – Eight years after the 2008 crisis governments and central banks – despite a plethora of policies and approaches – have failed to stimulate enough demand to produce sustained and strong growth. In Japan, so-called Abenomics promised 2% inflation by 2015; instead, the Bank of Japan (BOJ) expects it to be close to zero in 2016, with GDP growth below 1%. Eurozone growth halved in the second quarter of 2016 and is dangerously dependent on external export demand. Even the US recovery seems tepid.
MELBOURNE – I’m a Green. I’ve twice been the Australian Greens’ candidate for a seat in Australia’s federal parliament. But on November 8, all of the good that the Green political movement has done since it was founded could be outweighed by the Green Party in the United States if Jill Stein, its candidate for president, brings about the election of Donald Trump.
BOSTON – While much of the world today suffers from information overload, there are still places where information is scarce. And that scarcity sometimes costs people their lives.In the maternity ward of Zanzibar’s largest public-health facility, Mnazi Mmoja Hospital, patient data are listed on a dry-erase board. The information on the board consists of the number of women admitted, the type and severity of their conditions, and whether or not they survived.
BRUSSELS – Sometimes the most important thing that happens is what doesn’t happen – or, to paraphrase Sherlock Holmes, it’s the dog that doesn’t bark in the night. The lack of response to the European Commission’s non-enforcement in Spain and Portugal of the terms of the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) is one of those times.
CAMBRIDGE – When we hear of a catastrophe that has befallen a friend, we feel both empathy and a sense of vertigo. We wonder whether it could happen to us: Is this catastrophe the result of some peculiar characteristic that we fortunately do not share? Or are we also vulnerable? If so, can we avoid a similar fate?
LONDON – Vulnerable communities face the brunt of climate change – from rising sea levels and extreme weather events to prolonged severe droughts and flooding. According to the World Bank, without effective mitigation measures, climate change could push more than 100 million people into poverty by 2030.
ATHENS – A commitment to the independence of central banks is a vital part of the creed that “serious” policymakers are expected to uphold (privatization, labor-market “flexibility,” and so on). But what are central banks meant to be independent of? The answer seems obvious: governments.