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China and the Great Game

By Haifa Peerzada in Politics, December 28, 2013

Almost all discussion of Afghanistan after 2014 hinges on the withdrawal of western forces. Yet into that gap a major power is stepping—China. China’s involvement in turn poses major questions, vis-à-vis Pakistan, India and their own point of friction—Kashmir.

Brazil in 2013: a historic adventure

By Arthur Ituassu in Politics,

A big year in Brazil marked by huge street protests and a major corruption trial creates new tests for the country’s democracy. In the end, the one certainty is that 2013 has shown Brazil to be both a vibrant and heavily mediatised democracy that thinks constantly about itself in a very competitive discursive environment.

Kim the Third

By John Feffer in Politics, December 20, 2013

No one performs Shakespeare in the theaters of Pyongyang. Instead, he is enacted in the corridors of power. The case against Jang reminds us that even those near the very top of the North Korean pyramid harbor hopes of change, if only circumstances were to become more propitious. “Kim the Third” has quickly demonstrated that, like his grandfather, he will act decisively and ruthlessly to maintain his perch.

Fed tapering and emerging markets

By Barry Eichengreen - Poonam Gupta in Economics and Finance, December 19, 2013

Fed tapering has started. A revival of last summer’s emerging economy turmoil is a real concern. Those hit hardest had relatively large and liquid financial markets, and had allowed large rises in their currency values and their trade deficits.

Pandora and the Drones

By Conn Hallinan in Politics, December 14, 2013

The drones that roam at will in the skies over Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia are going global, and the terror and death they sow in those three countries now threatens to replicate itself in western China, Eastern Turkey and northern Iraq, highland Peru, South Asia, and the Amazon basin.

The dollar’s international status

By Jeffrey Frankel in Economics and Finance, December 8, 2013

Except for the period 1992-2000, the dollar’s role as an international currency has been slowly declining since 1976. Since 2010, there has been another pause in this decline – somewhat surprising, given that the financial crisis began in the US, and given Congress’ recent flirtations with default.

Grand colonic tour: Theroux does Angola

By Ricardo Soares de Oliveira in Features, December 5, 2013

Unimpressed by the savvy interviews with new oligarchs advertising their charity credentials and nervous expats’ claims that the country is improving, Theroux doesn’t pull any punches.

China’s Struggle over Air and Sea

By Patrick Smith in Politics,

China has grown more willing to assert historical claims to its sphere of influence, but it would be a mistake to regard this as “aggression” that requires an American response. The struggle is essentially an Asian affair with old spheres of influence re-emerging.

Monetary policy will never be the same

By Olivier Blanchard in Economics and Finance, November 27, 2013

The global crisis changed the face of monetary policy. The IMF’s chief economist, reviews the main changes. It draws on contributions to a recent IMF conference on the topic.

Muddy Waters – I’m a Man, M-A-N

By Gary Burnett in Arts and Culture,

The song has become something of a blues standard with its raunchy lyrics which nevertheless betray a stronger message about a Jim Crow South where a black man would always be referred to as a “boy”, a black “man” was just too much of a threat.