I RECENTLY gave a talk at the state prison in San Quentin, Calif. At the event, a former inmate said, “I don’t understand why over the 18-year period of my incarceration, over $900,000 was paid to keep me in prison. But when I was paroled, I was given $200 and told ‘good luck.’ ”
The Islamic Republic of Iran held another Holocaust cartoon festival this month, inviting the usual despicable cast of characters. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarifassured the New Yorker that although the event would proceed, Iran would ensure that the “people who have preached racial hatred and violence will not be invited.” Evidently, Zarif believes there are Holocaust deniers who do not harbor “racial hatred.”
Benn Steil’s May 20 op-ed on the PBS NewsHour Making$ense site, co-authored with Emma Smith, explains the practical and political barriers to further monetary or fiscal loosening in nations representing at least 60 percent of the global economy. This spells trouble ahead if economic conditions worsen.
It’s hard to decide what is the most disturbing part of Donald Trump’s candidacy. His racism, sexism and nativism? His crudity, boastfulness and boorishness? His incessant flip-flopping? His threats against critics and incitement of violence against demonstrators?
It’s easy to snicker at Vladimir Putin’s annual televised call-in extravaganza, known as “Direct Line.” The show’s campy, “Dear Leader” deference would hardly be greater if Kim Jong Un were its star. Still, Mr. Putin’s performance is a valuable political barometer. The questions allowed and the answers they generate tell us how the Kremlin views the country’s mind and mood.
Benn Steil’s latest op-ed in The Weekly Standard examines Paul Krugman’s continuing calls for fiscal stimulus, as well as his defense of government wage intervention and mercantilism. These have all been grounded in the assertion that the United States is in a “liquidity trap,” in which monetary policy is ineffective. Steil explains why the theory of liquidity traps is logically inapplicable when the central bank’s policy rate is positive, as it has been in the United States since December, and concludes that it operates as a fig leaf behind which to advocate policies with less scientific rationales.
Benn Steil’s op-ed in the March 30 edition of the Wall Street Journal, co-authored with Emma Smith, looks at presidential campaign charges that China is engaged in “currency manipulation” to boost net exports. They show that the aims of China’s pegged exchange rate regime have varied over the past two decades, and have not always been mercantilist. In recent months, with capital flowing out of China at a prodigious rate, its interventions have been to keep its currency up—not down. Launching a trade war with China over currency management, as Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders intend, would therefore be nonsensical—as well as damaging to U.S. interests.
For over six decades, the United States and Pakistan have suffered through a tormented and often tumultuous relationship, one defined at its apex by wartime alliance and at its nadir by stiff U.S. sanctions. In many ways, the period since 9/11 has mirrored that longer history, with expectations inflated and dashed, overblown rhetoric, and in the end, more frustration than satisfaction.
Africa’s largest economy is struggling to find its feet. Sliding oil prices threaten to derail President Muhammadu Buhari’s efforts to put Nigeria’s public finances back in order, fund planned infrastructure spending, and field much-needed social programs.
The entire world was surprised when, at the end of September 2015, Vladimir Putin suddenly started moving Russian aircraft, tanks and troops into Syria. At the time, President Obama predicted the Russian intervention would fail.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s surprise announcement that he is pulling Russian forces out of Syria will be greeted skeptically by many, and for good reason. Mr. Putin may be showing himself to be a canny strategist. But watch out for all the ways his plan could still go wrong.
Writing in Financial Times, Philip Gordon argues that the ceasefire in Syria is the most propitious development in the country since the war began five years ago. It's maintenance should be prioritized even over other longstanding goals such as the immediate removal of Assad or the marginalization of Russia and Iran.