from The Water's Edge

The World Next Week: Britons Mourn Thatcher, Venezuela Votes, and the IMF and World Bank Meet

British prime minister Margaret Thatcher receives a standing ovation at the Conservative Party Conference in 1989 (Stringer/UK/Courtesy Reuters).

April 12, 2013

British prime minister Margaret Thatcher receives a standing ovation at the Conservative Party Conference in 1989 (Stringer/UK/Courtesy Reuters).
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The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed Margaret Thatcher’s legacy, the Venezuelan elections, and the World Bank and IMF meetings in Washington.


The highlights:

  • Margaret Thatcher, who died on Monday of a stroke at the age of eighty-seven, will be buried next Wednesday in London. Her funeral procession will go from the Palace of Westminster to St. Paul’s Cathedral and have a distinct Falklands War theme. Thatcher rose from being a grocer’s daughter to become one of the most influential political figures in the second half of the twentieth century. Britons are split on her legacy. Her supporters hail her as “the woman who saved Britain” by pushing tough free-market economic policies and de-nationalizing many state-owned industries. For the very same reason, her opponents deride her as “the woman who divided a nation.” Outside of the United Kingdom, Baroness Thatcher is probably best remembered as the prime minister who led Britain to victory in the Falklands War and for her friendship with her with Ronald Reagan.
  • Nicolas Maduro has a ten-percentage point lead in the polls heading into next Sunday’s presidential elections in Venezuela. The special election is being held to fill the seat of Hugo Chavez, who died of cancer on March 5. Maduro, who was Chavez’s pick to succeed him, is making it clear that he wants to carry on Chavez’s legacy. Maduro says that Chavez’s spirit visited him in the form of a bird to provide encouragement, and he now whistles like a bird at his campaign rallies. Maduro is also running ads that portray Chavez as Jesus Christ and using the slogan “I am Chavez.” Maduro’s opponent, Henrique Capriles, who won 44 percent of the vote in last October’s presidential election, is having a hard time turning the discussion to the issues. Venezuelans may come to regret the lack of substantive debate. Venezuela faces tough economic times and struggles with significant government corruption.
  • The annual spring meetings of the IMF and World Bank begin next week in Washington, DC. Financial officials, diplomats, economists, and academics will have no shortage of topics to discuss: the Eurozone crisis, Japan’s embrace of quantitative easing, the future policy choices of the U.S. Federal Reserve, the threat of competitive devaluations, and the future of the development agenda, to name just a few. IMF and World Bank officials no doubt would like their member governments to address these issues, but at the end of the day the real decisions on each will be made in national capitals.
  • Bob’s Figure of the Week is 100,000. My Figure of the Week is Salam Fayyad. As always, you’ll have to listen to the podcast to find out why.

For more on the topics we discussed in the podcast check out:

Margaret Thatcher’s legacy: The New York Times has an obituary of Margaret Thatcher. The Independent announces the funeral’s Falklands War theme. The Guardian remembers famous Margaret Thatcher quotes and discusses Scotland Yard’s security plans for the funeral. The BBC has the funeral guest list and a full report of Parliament’s debate on Thatcher’s legacy.

Venezuelan elections: The New York Times notes Chavez’s presence in the election and lists ten memorable Hugo Chavez moments. Julia Sweig writes on the prevalence of Chavez in the campaign and the challenges that the winner will face. Reuters has a profile of interim president and candidate Nicholas Maduro and a report on Henrique Capriles’s recent rally in Caracas.

World Bank and IMF meetings in Washington: The IMF has an overview of the spring meetings. The Guardian writes that the IMF believes that its attempts to stimulate growth will not cause inflation in the global economy. The Center for Global Development discusses the issues facing the World Bank and the IMF and the outlook for change in the  two organizations. The Washington Post reports on the meeting between U.S. treasury secretary Jack Lew and German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble.