China’s slowdown and the Chinese stock market

By Jeffrey Frankel in Economics and Finance

The Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index is down more than 40% since June 2015 – a trend that preoccupies investors worldwide. The reason for this concern is not because they themselves are invested – it’s the Chinese who overwhelmingly hold Chinese stocks. Rather, many interpret market moves as evidence that China’s economy is going down […]

Book Review: Sasha Sokolov’s ‘A School for Fools’

By Josephine von Zitzewitz in Arts and Culture

“A School for Fools” is a Soviet underground classic of the 1970s, circulating only in samizdat, or self-published literature. A cult novel, it portrays an adolescent boy from Moscow wrestling with the big themes in life: family (dysfunctional, but average), love (unrequited), sex (out of reach), death and the realisation that the adult world around […]

Newsletter – January 2016

By Allston Mitchell in Letters

Welcome to The Global Dispatches and Happy New Year! This month, John Feffer, the director of Foreign Policy In Focus writes on the geopolitics of cheap oil and the consequences for the environment; Susan de Muth focuses on the Saudi Arabian Defence Minister who appears to be dragging his country into reckless adventures; Tatyana Ivanova […]

The Reckless Power Behind the Throne

By Susan de Muth in Politics

In the past year, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has abandoned the cautious fence-sitting that long characterised its diplomatic style in favour of an unprecedented, hawkish antagonism. That this transformation coincides with the meteoric rise of a previously little known prince – 30 year-old Mohammad bin Salman – is no accident; it seems that the […]

The Nobel Laureate vs. the Dictator

By Tatyana Ivanova in Arts and Culture

The prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature 2015 has been awarded to my compatriot from Belarus, writer and journalist Svetlana Alexievich. Many Belarusians pin their hopes on this prize. That’s why she started her Nobel Lecture at the Stockholm City Hall with the words: “I do not stand alone at this podium…There are voices around me, […]

A Roadmap for Peace in South Sudan

By Daniel P. Sullivan in Politics

The news out of South Sudan over the past two years has been devastating. And as we mark the beginning of the third year of conflict, the risk of famine and further atrocities remains grave. But not all the news is bad. In 2015, a peace agreement was signed following increased regional and international efforts. The coming year has […]

The Geopolitics of Cheap Oil

By John Feffer in Environment

The market was supposed to save the planet. That, at least, was the argument of many economists grappling with the problem of climate change. As fossil fuels became scarcer, they pointed out, the price of oil and natural gas would go up. And then other options, like solar and wind, would become cheaper, particularly as […]

Islamic Reformation?

By Sami Zubaida in Features

We keep hearing calls for an ‘Islamic Reformation’, assumed to be the remedy for a fundamentalist Islam behind the conservative Salafi brand as well as the Jihadist. Islam, under these assumptions, generates problems because it had not been ‘reformed’. The assumed model is the Christian Reformation of the sixteenth century, the Protestant reformers, Luther, Calvin […]

Fiscal crisis in Brazil: a tale of two inflations

By João Ricardo Mendes Gonçalves Costa Filho in Economics and Finance

The economic situation in Brazil is far from satisfactory. After dealing with (hyper) inflation in the 1990s and income distribution in the 2000s, the next hurdle is how to grow again. And this time Brazilian society cannot avoid making tough decisions to pledge a better future. If there is no action, the current (long) recession […]

Poland’s right turn

By Marta Tycner in Politics

Apparently, a mysterious infectious disease has spread across Central and Eastern Europe. Countries, which for years after the fall of communism were examples of an accomplished transition to the ‘Western world’, have been sliding, one after another, into inexplicable madness. For western commentators, this disease, which they see as a so-passé mixture of nationalism, populism […]

Orson Welles, Essential American Artist

By Geoffrey Heptonstall in Features

‘In a world of supermarkets it’s good to have a neighbourhood grocery store,’ Orson Welles observed in a lecture not long before he died. His career was certainly that of an independent mind and a personal eye. The customary description is maverick, but this is a term implying censure of one who steps out of […]

Britain’s ‘empire of the mind’

By Gerry Hassan in Politics

Great rhetorical moment this was not. This wasn’t of the quality of 1939 and the outbreak of World War Two, 1940 and the resignation of Chamberlain as PM, Suez and Anthony Eden comparing the Egyptian leader Nasser to Hitler and Mussolini, or even more recently, the Falklands war, when at the outset Margaret Thatcher’s political […]

Front National: victorious defeat

By Patrice de Beer in Politics

How can regional elections be so traumatic in one of the world’s longest established democracies? How can we be so enthralled by a vote to select the local representatives of assemblies who are only in charge of local issues like schools, roads and social care? How can we focus so much on our local politics […]

Newsletter – December 2015

By Allston Mitchell in Letters

Season’s Greetings to everyone, A bumper issue this month with L.K. Sharma dissecting the current state of the political scene in India; Andrea Baranes the President of the Fondazione Culturale Responsabilità Etica of the Banca Etica network looks into the relationship between finance and the environment; Gerry Hassan the writer, commentator and academic examines Britain’s […]

India: roller-coastering democracy

By L K Sharma in Politics

Those who have seen the Indian Prime Minister’s irresistible rise in politics and heard his inflammatory rhetoric over the years were astounded by his speech in Parliament. Short of quoting from the Bible, Narendra Modi sought to convey to his opponents that his “idea of India” was no different than theirs! And it is this […]

A Taste of Moscow’s Tretyakov Gallery

By Irene Dogmatic in Travel Writing

Going to the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow is entering a world that most Americans and probably many other people around the world have never seen. The entire gallery houses nothing but the art of Russia. I only scratched the surface of this amazing place, but even that was remarkable. The Gallery was originally a […]