Pandora and the Drones

By Conn Hallinan in Politics

In November 2001, when the CIA assassinated al-Qaeda commander Mohammed Atef with a killer drone in Kandahar, Afghanistan, the U.S. held a virtual monopoly on the technology of lethal robots. Today, more than 70 countries in the world deploy drones, 16 of them the deadly variety, and many of those drones target rural people living […]

Newsletter – December 2013

By Allston Mitchell in Letters

Welcome to The Global Dispatches, This month Jeffrey Frankel, Harpel Professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, discusses the changing status of the US dollar since 1945; Ricardo Soares de Oliveira, Lecturer in African Politics at the University of Oxford reviews Paul Theroux’s latest book, ‘Last Train to Zona Verde’ with special reference to […]

The dollar’s international status

By Jeffrey Frankel in Economics and Finance

As most people know, the general trend in the dollar’s role as an international currency has been slowly downward since 1976. International use of the dollar as a currency in which to hold foreign-exchange reserves, to denominate financial transactions, to invoice trade, and to serve as a vehicle for foreign-exchange transactions is below where it […]

Grand colonic tour: Theroux does Angola

By Ricardo Soares de Oliveira in Features

“Angola”, argues Paul Theroux near the end of his searing travel book, is a “foreign land without a face”, little written about, where even birdwatchers and backpackers fear to thread. This is overstating it a bit for a country now swarming with hundreds of thousands of expats and a plethora of flights to Europe and […]

China’s Struggle over Air and Sea

By Patrick Smith in Politics

By asserting its rights over some rocks in the Pacific and the airspace high above them, China has suddenly thrown into question the structures of power and sovereignty in the Pacific, top to bottom. We have begun to witness the future arriving, as always clumsily and a little fearfully, and the reassuring past receding—meeting the […]

Monetary policy will never be the same

By Olivier Blanchard in Economics and Finance

Two weeks ago, the IMF organized a major research conference, in honour of Stanley Fischer, on lessons from the crisis. Here is my take.   I shall focus on what I see as the lessons for monetary policy, but before I do this, let me mention two other important conclusions. One, having your macro house in […]

Muddy Waters – I’m a Man, M-A-N

By Gary Burnett in Arts and Culture

Muddy Waters first recorded Mannish Boy back in 1955. He and Willie Dixon had previously written Hoochie Coochie Man, which had inspired Bo Diddley‘s I’m a Man,and  which in turn provided the basis for Mannish Boy. The song is credited to Muddy Water, Mel London and Bo Diddley, and features a repeating lick based on […]

Frankenstein’s Bankers

By Keith Fisher in Economics and Finance

Alas! I had turned loose into the world a depraved wretch, whose delight was in carnage and misery. (Mary Shelley, Frankenstein) Like most human creations, money and banking can, when misunderstood, turn against their creator, taking on a destructive, out-of-control life of their own. Thus, after the collapse of the US banking system in 1929 […]

China’s Third Plenum: great expectations

By François Godement in Politics

“Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence”, wrote Charles Dickens in Great Expectations. The advice would have been well put to foreign observers who built up a cargo cult for reforms coming up at the Third Plenum of the 18th Chinese Communist Party Congress, which met from 9-13 November. The meeting could become […]

Hello Warsaw, This Is Haiyan Calling

By Walden Bello in Environment

It seems these days that whenever Mother Nature wants to send an urgent message to humankind, it sends it via the Philippines. This year the messenger was Haiyan, known in the Philippines as Yolanda. For the second year in a row, the world’s strongest typhoon barreled through the Philippines, Yolanda following on the footsteps steps […]

Winter chill over Hungary’s autumn

By Yudit Kiss in Politics

On October 23, Hungary commemorated the anniversary of the 1956 revolution, but few Hungarians had cause to celebrate except the ruling Fidesz party, which is eagerly looking forward to next spring’s parliamentary elections. Fidesz has learned the lessons of its previous spell in power, when in 2002 general disenchantment with its performance lost it the […]

Newsletter – November 2013

By Allston Mitchell in Letters

Dear readers, This month we have a varied selection of articles: Daniel Wagner and Giorgio Cafiero examine Saudi Arabia’s declared foreign policy shift away from the U.S. in favour of China; Professors of Economics Carlos Álvarez-Nogal and Christophe Chamley look back in history, to Spain in 1575 for lessons to be learned from the US […]

Is the U.S. Losing Saudi Arabia to China?

By Daniel Wagner - Giorgio Cafiero in Politics

Saudi Arabia’s declared intention to pivot away from the U.S. in foreign policy implies a shift toward Beijing, which predates both the Obama presidency and the Arab Awakening. While a full-fledged “divorce” from the U.S. appears highly unlikely at this juncture, there is genuine cause for concern in Washington. The Saudi government’s decision has potentially […]

Budget Wars:1575 Version

By Carlos Álvarez-Nogal - Christophe Chamley in Economics and Finance

The recent showdown between the parliament and the executive in the US began when a faction in the Republican Party tried to stop the implementation of the healthcare law of President Obama. They refused to raise the legislatively determined ceiling on the federal public debt – a ceiling that has to be raised with the […]

The Winter of Content

By Carl Rowlands in Economics and Finance

One of the last books that economist and public intellectual JK Galbraith wrote in his long and illustrious career, The Culture of Contentment (1992), has passed into relative obscurity. This is a shame, as it may offer a prophetic glimpse into the long-term, paradoxical consequences of the Reagan-Thatcher era. Capturing the neoliberal tendency at the […]

At the UN, a Latin American rebellion

By Laura Carlsen in Politics

Without a doubt, the 68th UN General Assembly will be remembered as a watershed. Nations reached an agreement on control of chemical weapons that could avoid a global war in Syria. The volatile stalemate on the Iran nuclear program came a step closer to diplomacy. What failed to make the headlines, however, could have the […]