The rise to global predominance of Western civilization is the single
most important historical phenomenon of the past five hundred years.
All over the world, an astonishing proportion of people now work for
Western-style companies, study at Western-style universities, vote for
Western-style governments, take Western medicines, wear Western clothes,
and even work Western hours. Yet six hundred years ago the petty
kingdoms of Western Europe seemed unlikely to achieve much more than
perpetual internecine warfare. It was Ming China or Ottoman Turkey that
had the look of world civilizations. How did the West overtake its
Eastern rivals? And has the zenith of Western power now passed? In Civilization: The West and the Rest,
bestselling author Niall Ferguson argues that, beginning in the
fifteenth century, the West developed six powerful new concepts that the
Rest lacked: competition, science, the rule of law, consumerism, modern
medicine, and the work ethic. These were the "killer applications" that
allowed the West to leap ahead of the Rest, opening global trade
routes, exploiting newly discovered scientific laws, evolving a system
of representative government, more than doubling life expectancy,
unleashing the Industrial Revolution, and embracing a dynamic work
ethic. Civilization shows just how fewer than a dozen Western
empires came to control more than half of humanity and four fifths of
the world economy. Yet now, Ferguson argues, the days of Western
predominance are numbered-not because of clashes with rival
civilizations, but simply because the Rest have now downloaded the six
killer apps we once monopolized-while the West has literally lost faith
in itself. Civilization does more than tell the gripping
story of the West's slow rise and sudden demise; it also explains world
history with verve, clarity, and wit. Controversial but cogent and
compelling, Civilization is Ferguson at his very best.
On February 19, 2009, CNBC commentator Rick Santelli delivered a dramatic rant against Obama administration programs to shore up the plunging housing market. Invoking the Founding Fathers and ridiculing "losers" who could not pay their mortgages, Santelli called for "Tea Party" protests. Over the next two years, conservative activists took to the streets and airways, built hundreds of local Tea Party groups, and weighed in with votes and money to help right-wing Republicans win electoral victories in 2010.In this penetrating new study, Harvard University's Theda Skocpol and Vanessa Williamson go beyond images of protesters in Colonial costumes to provide a nuanced portrait of the Tea Party. What they find is sometimes surprising. Drawing on grassroots interviews and visits to local meetings in several regions, they find that older, middle-class Tea Partiers mostly approve of Social Security, Medicare, and generous benefits for military veterans. Their opposition to "big government" entails reluctance to pay taxes to help people viewed as undeserving "freeloaders"—including immigrants, lower income earners, and the young. At the national level, Tea Party elites and funders leverage grassroots energy to further longstanding goals such as tax cuts for the wealthy, deregulation of business, and privatization of the very same Social Security and Medicare programs on which many grassroots Tea Partiers depend. Elites and grassroots are nevertheless united in hatred of Barack Obama and determination to push the Republican Party sharply to the right.
The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism combines fine-grained portraits of local Tea Party members and chapters with an overarching analysis of the movement's rise, impact, and likely fate.
Agriculture on the American Great Plains has been constrained by historical water scarcity. After World War II, technological improvements made groundwater from the Ogallala aquifer available for irrigation. Comparing counties over the Ogallala with nearby similar counties, groundwater access increased irrigation intensity and initially reduced the impact of droughts. Over time, land-use adjusted toward water-intensive crops and drought-sensitivity increased; conversely, farmers in water-scarce counties maintained drought-resistant practices that fully mitigated higher drought-sensitivity. Land values capitalized the Ogallala's value at $26 billion in 1974; as extraction remained high and water levels declined, the Ogallala's value fell to $9 billion in 2002.
NEBR Working Paper #17625.Co-Author Pinar Keskin is a Professor of Economics at Wellesley College.Download PDF
This paper measures “debt disputes” between governments and
foreign private creditors in periods of sovereign debt crises. We
construct an index of government coerciveness, consisting of 9
objective sub-indicators. Each of these sub-indicators captures
unilateral government actions imposed on foreign banks and
bondholders. The results provide the first systematic account of
debt crises that goes beyond a binary categorization of default
versus non-default. Overall, government behavior and rhetoric
show a strong variability, ranging from highly confrontational to
very smooth crisis resolution processes. In a preliminary analysis
on the determinants of coercive behavior, we find political institutions
to be significant, while economic and financial factors play
a lesser role. These results open up an agenda for future research.
In 1959 South Korea was mired in poverty. By 1979 it had a powerful industrial economy and a vibrant civil society in the making, which would lead to a democratic breakthrough eight years later. The transformation took place during the years of Park Chung Hee’s presidency. Park seized power in a coup in 1961 and ruled as a virtual dictator until his assassination in October 1979. He is credited with modernizing South Korea, but at a huge political and social cost.South Korea’s political landscape under Park defies easy categorization. The state was predatory yet technocratic, reform-minded yet quick to crack down on dissidents in the name of political order. The nation was balanced uneasily between opposition forces calling for democratic reforms and the Park government’s obsession with economic growth. The chaebol (a powerful conglomerate of multinationals based in South Korea) received massive government support to pioneer new growth industries, even as a nationwide campaign of economic shock therapy—interest hikes, devaluation, and wage cuts—met strong public resistance and caused considerable hardship.This landmark volume examines South Korea’s era of development as a study in the complex politics of modernization. Drawing on an extraordinary range of sources in both English and Korean, these essays recover and contextualize many of the ambiguities in South Korea’s trajectory from poverty to a sustainable high rate of economic growth.
Killing terrorists with drones is great politics. To the question, “Is it legal?” a natural answer might well be, “Who cares?”
But the legal justifications in the war on terrorism do matter - and not just to people who care about civil liberties. They end up structuring policy. As it turns out, targeted killing, now the hallmark of the Barack Obama administration’s war on terrorism, has its roots in rejection of the legal justifications once offered for waterboarding prisoners.
The leaking of the basic content (but not the text) of an Obama administration memo authorizing the drone strike that killed US citizen Anwar Al-Awlaki therefore calls for serious reflection about where the war on terrorists has been - and where it is headed next.
The George W. Bush administration’s signature anti-terror policy after the September 11 attacks (apart from invading countries) was to capture suspected terrorists, detain them, and question them aggressively in the hopes of gaining actionable intelligence to prevent more attacks.
In the Bush years, after the CIA and other agencies balked at the interrogation techniques being urged by Vice President Dick Cheney, the White House asked the Department of Justice to explain why the most aggressive questioning tactics were legal. Lawyers at the Office of Legal Counsel—especially John Yoo, now a professor at the University of California at Berkeley—produced secret memos arguing that waterboarding wasn’t torture.The Torture Memos
What was more, the memos maintained, it didn’t matter if it was torture or not, because the president had the inherent constitutional authority to do whatever was needed to protect the country.
Some of the documents were leaked and quickly dubbed “the torture memos.” A firestorm of legal criticism followed. One of the most astute and outraged critics was Marty Lederman, who had served in the Office of Legal Counsel under President Bill Clinton. With David Barron, a colleague of mine at Harvard, Lederman went on to write two academic articles attacking the Bush administration’s theories of expansive presidential power. Eventually, Jack Goldsmith, who led the Office of Legal Council in 2003–2004 (and is now also at Harvard), retracted the most extreme of Yoo’s arguments about the president’s inherent power.
In the years leading to the 2008 election, all this technical criticism of the Bush team’s legal strategy merged with domestic and global condemnation of the administration’s detention policies. The Supreme Court weighed in, finding that detainees were entitled to hearings and better tribunals than were being offered. As a candidate, Obama joined the bandwagon, promising to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, within a year of taking office.
Guantanamo is still open, in part because Congress put obstacles in the way. Instead of detaining new terror suspects there, however, Obama vastly expanded the tactic of targeting them, with eight times more drone strikes in his first year than in all of Bush’s time in office. Barron and Lederman, the erstwhile Bush critics, were appointed to senior positions in the Office of Legal Counsel—where they wrote the recent memo authorizing the Al-Awlaki killing.
What explains these startling developments? If it’s illegal and wrong to capture suspected terrorists and detain them indefinitely without a hearing, how exactly did the Obama administration decide it was desirable and lawful to target and kill them?
The politics were straightforward. Obama’s team observed that holding terror suspects exposed the Bush administration to harsh criticism (including their own). They wanted to avoid adding detainees at Guantanamo or elsewhere.
A Father’s Appeal
Dead terrorists tell no tales—and they also have no lawyers shouting about their human rights. Before Al-Awlaki was killed, his father sued the government for putting the son on its target list. The Obama Justice Department asked the court to dismiss the claim as being too closely related to government secrets. The court agreed—a result never reached in all the Guantanamo litigation. Anwar Al-Awlaki now has no posthumous recourse.
In the bigger picture, Obama also wanted to show measurable success in the war on terrorism while withdrawing troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. But even here the means were influenced by legal concerns.Osama bin Laden is the best example. One suspects that the US forces who led the fatal raid in Abbottabad almost certainly could have taken him alive. But detaining and trying him would probably have been a political disaster. So they shot him on sight, as the international law of war allows for enemies unless they surrender.The authority for targeted killing—as expressed in the Lederman-Barron memo—offers the legal counterpart to the political advantages of the Obama targeting policy. According to the leaks, the memo holds that the U.S. can kill suspected terrorists from the air not because the president has inherent power, but because Congress declared war on Al-Qaeda the week after the September 11 attacks.
The logic is that once Congress declares war, the president can determine whom we are fighting. The president found that Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which didn’t exist on September 11, had joined the war in progress. He determined that Al-Awlaki was an active member of the Yemeni groups with some role in planning attacks. And, the memo says, it’s not unlawful assassination or murder if the targets are wartime enemies.
From a formal legal standpoint, Lederman and Barron can claim consistency with their attacks on the Bush administration. They relied on Congress and international law; Yoo’s “torture memos” didn’t.
But this argument misses the more basic point: Most critics rejected Bush’s policies not on technical grounds based on the Constitution, but because they thought there was something wrong with the president acting as judge and jury in the war on terrorism.
No Defense Allowed
Anwar al-Awlaki was killed because the president decided he was an enemy. Like the Bush-era Guantanamo detainees, he had no chance to deny this—even when his father tried to go to court while he was still alive.
Naturally, a uniformed soldier in a regular war also wouldn’t get a hearing. But like the Guantanamo detainees, Al-Awlaki wore no uniform. Nor was he on a battlefield, except according to the view that anywhere in the world can be the battlefield in the war on terrorism.
Al-Awlaki might have maintained that he was merely a jihadi propagandist exercising his free speech rights as a U.S. citizen. Which might well have been a lie. Yet we have only the president’s word that he was an active terrorist—and that is all we will ever have. The future direction of the policy is therefore clear: Killing is safer, easier and legally superior to catching and detaining.
Sitting beside Al-Awlaki when he was killed was another US citizen, Samir Khan, who was apparently a full-time propagandist, not an operational terrorist. Khan was, we are told, not the target, but collateral damage—a good kill under the laws of war.
Legal memos are weapons of combat—no matter who is writing them.
We study patterns of FDI in a multi-country world economy. First, we present evidence for a broad sample of countries that firms direct FDI disproportionately to markets with income levels similar to their home market. Then we develop a model featuring non-homothetic preferences for quality and monopolistic competition in which specialization is purely demand-driven and the decision to serve foreign countries via exports or FDI depends on a proximity-concentration trade-off. We characterize the joint patterns of trade and FDI when countries differ in income distribution and size and show that FDI is more likely to occur between countries with similar per capita income levels. The model predicts a Linder Hypothesis for FDI, consistent with the patterns found in the data.
Co-author Gene Grossman is a professor of economics at Princeton University. Co-author Pablo Fajgelbaum is an assistant professor of economics at the University of California, LA.Working Paper 17550, National Bureau of Economic Research, October 2011. Download PDF
We document the behavior of trade prices during the Great Trade Collapse of 2008–2009 using transaction-level data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. First, we find that differentiated manufactures exhibited marked stability in their trade prices during the large decline in their trade volumes. Prices of non-differentiated manufactures, by contrast, declined sharply. Second, while the trade collapse was much steeper among differentiated durable manufacturers than among non-durables, prices in both categories barely changed. Third, despite this lack of movement in average price levels, the frequency and magnitude of price adjustments at the product level noticeably changed with the onset of the crisis.
Co-author Oleg Itskhoki is a professor of economics at Princeton University. Co-author Brent Neiman is at the
Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago.Download PDF
Some of you knew Ted Forstmann much better than I did. Most of you knew him much longer. When Ted’s family and closest colleagues asked me to join Mayor Bloomberg and Charlie Rose in offering a eulogy to Ted, I must admit I was hesitant, not to mention humbled. What could be more presumptuous than for a British-born professor to try to do justice to one of the great American capitalists?
And then I remembered the side of Ted that I suspect relatively few of you saw. Teddy the philosopher. Teddy, my coauthor.
When I heard the news of Ted’s death—which we’d been dreading for weeks—my first thought was: he was the most American American I’ve ever known. Financier. Fun lover. Philanthropist. And a man who couldn’t abide cant—in both senses. Cant in the sense of insincere humbug. And can’t in the sense of “this can’t be done.”
And yet there was another side to Ted that was a little less classically all-American. He was, after all, a single parent. He was a man for whom the color line—for so long this country’s curse - was simply not visible.
He was also a matchmaker: a Cupid with a Gulfstream 5 instead of wings. He took a fatherly interest in my romance with Ayaan, whom he did so much to help after she was forced to leave the Netherlands, and who can’t be here for the very excellent reason that she’s about to give birth to our son. Ted was one of those people who didn’t advise her against me, and I’ll be grateful for that until the day I die.
What I really want to remember today, however, is Ted’s secret life as an intellectual. Ted was no ordinary master of the financial universe. He saw things differently. He was what the Germans call a Querdenker, which the English “lateral thinker” doesn’t quite translate.
From the moment we met, he and I talked about his fears for this country’s financial and political system. He had shared my foreboding about the excesses of the early 2000s. And he also shared my fear that when the crisis struck, people would leap to the wrong conclusions.
In a piece we wrote together for The Wall Street Journal back in April of last year, we made an argument that I believe still holds good: that in a mood of legitimate public anger at the consequences of the crisis, this country is drawing the wrong conclusions about its causes.
Unlike many people in the financial world, Ted Forstmann was not afraid to criticize Wall Street. (It was I who had to tone down his invective.) But what Ted dreaded was that the backlash that was bound to follow the crisis would lead to precisely the hypertrophic regulation we now see emerging over literally thousands of pages - as well as to demagogic calls for redistribution via higher tax rates and expanded federal programs.
Ted was convinced that any new regulation should focus strictly on excess leverage and the derivatives markets. Those, for him, were the root causes of the crisis.
With Ronald Reagan, he also passionately believed that enlarging the government was not the answer to the problem; often, it was the problem. That was why he wanted to see more disadvantaged kids going to private schools. His ideal was social mobility, not state-mandated equality. In this, as in so many ways, Ted was very wise.
A couple of years ago, two of my kids had the privilege of having lunch with Ted at one of his favorite restaurants, Harry Cipriani, just nine blocks from here. Last weekend I asked my younger son, who’s now 12, if he remembered the conversation. He did. Ted’s advice was this: “Don’t do the obvious thing. Don’t follow in anybody’s footsteps. Look around you and figure out what’s needed, what’s missing. Then do that.”
I hope my son heeds that advice. I hope his whole generation heeds it. I know, Everest and Siya, that you will.
I admit I was surprised by my own reaction to the news of his death. My first thought was: oh, no, now I won’t be able to ask Ted what he thinks anymore. What he thinks about the economy. What he thinks about politics. I won’t be able to get his take on the presidential candidates. And suddenly I felt really bereft.
That morning I had to write a column for Newsweek. I couldn’t help myself: I just sat down and addressed it directly to him. What’s your take, Ted? As I was writing it—and boy, did the words flow—I realized just how much I am going to miss his wisdom. Because I could never predict what Ted’s take would be. To a pedestrian, risk-averse academic like me, the way he thought about the world was full of surprises—and always illuminating ones.
Ted, you were in many ways the most American of Americans. You were the quintessential doer. But you were also a thinker. And we really do miss the unique way you thought.
Wisdom is in short supply these days. You took so much with you when you left us.
This column is for Ted Forstmann: financier, fun lover, and philanthropist, who died on Nov. 20. But it’s not just for him. It’s to him.
Ted, I’m worried. I wish you were still around to help me get this right. The US is going nuts with populism. That’s always to be expected after a big financial crisis, I know. But this is dysfunctional.
On one side, there are conservative fundamentalists—the Tea Party—who think we can turn the clock back to before the New Deal, if not further. Some of them want to get rid not just of the Federal Reserve but of most of the federal government itself. I have more sympathy with these Teapopulists than with the other lot, the motley crew who want to Occupy Wall Street (call them the Occupopulists). But when it comes to practical politics, this Tea Party has more in common with the Mad Hatter’s than Boston’s.
To begin with, they’ve created a mood in the Republican Party that makes any kind of compromise on our fiscal crisis impossible. We just saw the ignominious failure of the supercommittee, which was supposed to come up with a plan to reduce the deficit. Predictably, each party blames the other side for this flop. Either way, the consequences are dire. First, the markets are spooked, just the way they were by the partisan dogfight over the debt ceiling earlier this year. Second, the country is now on course for more drastic spending cuts in 2013, which could not only slash our defense budget in an irresponsible way but also plunge the economy back into recession.
There’s another problem. Just like the populists of a century ago, the Teapopulists are drawn compulsively to disastrous presidential wannabes. I never asked you what you thought of Mitt Romney, Ted. But I am sure you’d prefer him over the other contenders. Bachmann, Perry, Cain, Gingrich—the one thing these people have in common is that they would lose to Barack Obama next year even if the unemployment rate were twice what it is now. Their appeal to the crucial center—to the independents and the undecided—is just too low.
What’s the case against Romney? That he’s a Mormon? Ted, you were a devout Catholic, just as I am a doubting atheist. But this is America. Religion and government are separate. And we tolerate all faiths, no matter how idiosyncratic, provided they tolerate ours too. That he’s changed his mind on hot-button issues? Well, so does any intelligent person. You often did. What is this, a dogmatism contest?
We show that even when the exchange rate cannot be devalued, a small set of conventional fiscal instruments can robustly replicate the real allocations attained under a nominal exchange rate devaluation in a standard New Keynesian open economy environment. We perform the analysis under alternative pricing assumptions—producer or local currency pricing, along with nominal wage stickiness; under alternative asset market structures, and for anticipated and unanticipated devaluations. There are two types of fiscal policies equivalent to an exchange rate devaluation—one, a uniform increase in import tariff and export subsidy, and two, an increase in value-added tax and a uniform reduction in payroll tax. When the devaluations are anticipated, these policies need to be supplemented with a reduction in consumption tax and an increase in income taxes. These policies have zero impact on fiscal revenues. In certain cases equivalence requires in addition a partial default on foreign bond holders. We discuss the issues of implementation of these policies, in particular, under the circumstances of a currency union.
Co-author Emmanuel Farhi is a professor of economics at Harvard University. Co-author Oleg Itskhoki is a professor of economics at Princeton University.Download PDF
Global trade is of vital interest to citizens as well as policymakers, yet it is widely misunderstood. This compact exposition of the market forces underlying international commerce addresses both of these concerned groups, as well as the needs of students and scholars. Although it contains no equations, it is almost mathematical in its elegance, precision, and power of expression.Understanding Global Trade provides a thorough explanation of what shapes the international organization of production and distribution and the resulting trade flows. It reviews the evolution of knowledge in this field from Adam Smith to today as a process of theoretical modeling, accumulation of new empirical data, and then revision of analytical frameworks in response to evidence and changing circumstances. It explains the sources of comparative advantage and how they lead countries to specialize in making products which they then sell to other countries. While foreign trade contributes to the overall welfare of a nation, it also creates winners and losers, and Helpman describes mechanisms through which trade affects a country's income distribution.The book provides a clear and original account of the revolutions in trade theory of the 1980s and the most recent decade. It shows how scholars shifted the analysis of trade flows from the sectoral level to the business-firm level, to elucidate the growing roles of multinational corporations, offshoring, and outsourcing in the international division of labor. Helpman’s explanation of the latest research findings is essential for an understanding of world affairs.
Does an expansion of health insurance increase or decrease use of the emergency department (ED)? Both predictions can be justified logically. On the one hand, research on patient cost sharing predicts that by reducing the out-of-pocket costs of an ED visit, expanded insurance coverage, especially in the face of physician shortages, could result in increased ED utilization. This view has been echoed by elected leaders: Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ), citing the Massachusetts experience with health care reform, claimed that if anything, universal coverage brought even higher rates of emergency room visits due to increased difficulty in getting appointments for outpatient physician visits. Others have predicted that expanded coverage would actually reduce ED use, since previously uninsured patients would now have access to preventive care. The relative importance of these countervailing forces is a question that clearly weighs on physicians: in a survey of emergency physicians conducted in April 2010, about 71 percent said they expected emergency visits to increase after the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). To explore the importance of these effects, we examined the Massachusetts experience. The state's 2006 health care reform was a model for the ACA and reduced the proportion of Massachusetts adults under the age of 65 who were uninsured by 7.7 percentage points between the fall of 2006 and the fall of 2009. To determine whether any changes in ED utilization in Massachusetts reflected the effect of Massachusetts' reform or were merely representative of broader regional trends in ED utilization, we used New Hampshire and Vermont as control states.
After reading about the Greek debt crisis for over a year now, you might think you understand what it’s all about. You’re probably wrong. International media focus on how the Greek government and people spend their money. But an equally important problem is the inability of the Greek state to collect revenues.The story constantly aired by various news outlets is simple enough. Greece, we are told, free-rode on the security offered by the rest of Europe to attract money from foreign investors, and then spent it lavishly on its bloated public sector. In case you don’t get it, BBC’s website has a recurring instructional slide show titled “What went wrong in Greece?” Apparently, Greece’s adoption of the euro “made it easier for the country to borrow money.... Greece went on a big, debt-funded spending spree, including paying for high-profile projects such as the 2004 Athens Olympics.”This brief media lesson on Greek economics has proven very appealing to audiences abroad for two reasons. First, it rhymes with the stereotype of lazy Mediterranean people conning their hard-working North European partners and then shamelessly asking for a bailout. (Now that Italy may be heading the same way, there will be more of this coming.) It also resonates in the ears of the euro’s sworn opponents, above all in the UK.Unfortunately, it is only half the story. Greek public debt as a percentage of GDP did not dramatically rise right after Greece joined the euro. Greek debt actually accumulated back in the 1980s and early 90s, years before Europe got its common currency. The size of the Greek public sector (as a percentage of GDP or share of the labor market) is around or even below average compared to the rest of Europe. Greece did try to spend its way out of the global recession in 2008-2009 and ran large deficits; but so did most other developed countries, including the UK and the US.There are two sides of the public finance coin: expenditure and revenue. What is left out is that while Greek public spending and debt crept up, government revenue fell or remained constant in the years after Greece adopted the euro. Between 2001 and 2007 Greece’s average government revenues totaled 39.4% of GDP, whereas the EU average was 44.4%. Taxes are by far the largest component of government revenue. The issue is not unique to Greece. Declining tax revenues were observed in Ireland, Spain, and in the US after the Bush tax cuts kicked in.In Greece the culprit has been rampant tax evasion by corporations owing millions in taxes and self-employed professionals who can hide their earnings, unlike salaried employees and pensioners. Under international pressure to balance its budget, the outgoing Greek government axed salaries and pensions and slapped new taxes on the bulk of citizens who were not tax-delinquent. This only drove the country deeper into recession and insolvency, making it necessary for EU leaders to write off part of Greece’s debt in July and then again in October.Whether the government is reluctant to tax the very wealthy (as in the US) or lax in its duty to punish tax evasion (as in Greece), the results are similar. Revenues can’t keep up with expenditures and lenders become uneasy. Meanwhile, those who are taxed too leniently have an interest in shifting public attention towards cutting government spending. The bitter partisan quarrels in Washington and Athens lately have this much in common. Yet, this obvious point is conspicuously absent from reports on Greece in the English-speaking world.There is no denying that Greece overspent on security for its Olympics - they were the first games after 9/11. There is also no denying that the Greek public sector is very inefficient. But this has to do with how the money is used. Deep cuts will not make an inefficient public sector better. Other reforms, however, just might. Finally, there is no denying that the euro deprived Greece of the flexibility to devaluate its currency. However, Greece’s revenue collection problem has been perennial and is unrelated to the euro. The first reforms Greece’s new government should focus on are the tax and judicial systems.Casting the crisis ravaging Greece and closing in on Italy as a fundamental story of governments drunk on loans, doling out stacks of euros to their shortsighted citizens is a half-truth. It makes it easy to caricature on a national basis and to categorize Greeks, Italians, Germans or Americans as people who collectively live either within or beyond their means. It also masks the fact that there are differences within each country: Those who benefit the most from high-profile government contracts are the hardest ones to tax when the creditors come banging on your door.
It is obvious that the Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s “zero problems with the neighbors” policy no longer works, in the face of Turkey’s support for the Syrian defectors who oppose the Assad regime. The foreign minister must now deal with potentially hostile reactions by Syria and its closest ally, Iran, that could have destabilizing regional implications. Iran, for one, cannot afford to allow the Assad regime to fail. It provides Iran with a foothold in the Levant from which to support Hezbollah and threaten Israel on its Lebanese border.
Syrian and Iranian retaliation against Turkey can readily take the form of support for the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, or P.K.K. This group once again has become increasingly violent in its promotion of Kurdish separatism in the Turkish southeast. Syria, Iran and Turkey share a common cause in resisting demands by Kurdish opposition movements in their countries. Only months ago, all three were cooperating in suppressing the P.K.K. For Turkey, this was a welcome change from the 1990s, when Syria and Iran supported the P.K.K. in order to pressure Ankara for foreign policy concessions. Now Damascus and Tehran could again play the P.K.K. card.
To counteract potential Syrian and Iranian subversion and the separatist appeals of the P.K.K., Turkey needs to adapt its zero problems policy to its own southeast. In 2009, the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced a “Kurdish opening”—a bid at reconciliation with Turkey’s Kurds. However, he quickly closed it, leaving many Kurdish demands for economic development, political rights and cultural recognition unanswered. The Turkish foreign minister’s recent veiled threat to send troops across the Syrian border may be insufficient to deter Syria and Iran from subversively supporting the P.K.K. For a comprehensive resolution of the “Kurdish question,” Ankara also needs to implement effective policies that will over the long term improve the economic, political, and cultural life of Turkey’s Kurds.
In the past 48 hours, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has succeeded in one thing: Stirring up the anger of nearly everyone around him. The European Union, his own party PASOK, the opposition party New Democracy and the Greek electorate are all pitted against Papandreou. The Greeks have a word for this special brand of rage—they call it “thymos.” This refers to the simmering resentment that arises when one's views are not recognized.
It’s little wonder Papandreou has had to back down from his initial call for a national referendum on the 50% haircut deal decided by the European Union heads of state on October 27.
First off, he failed to get the opposition to agree to the referendum. They called it blackmail, denounced Papandreou as an opportunist and asked for a grand coalition government or immediate elections. Main opposition leader Antonis Samaras’ consensus on Thursday was short-lived and with many conditions.
Meanwhile, the European leaders—French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel—called Papandreou’s bluff. 'Go ahead and make our day,' they told him. “Imagine what would happen if we called a referendum on the bailout in our countries?' The International Monetary Fund, for its part, threatened to freeze all of its loans to Greece.
Finally, for Papandreou’s party PASOK the situation is even more dire. Instead of shoring up support from his own party members, the referendum only emboldened cries for his resignation—including from his own Ministers and PASOK Parliamentarians.
Papandreou has recalled his decision for a referendum because he failed in all fronts and it’s become clear that he can no longer be part of the solution.
There are three possible ways the crisis will play out. First, Papandreou could refuse to resign and possibly win the no-confidence vote Friday. This is unlikely since his overall support has reached its all-time low. The second, more likely scenario is that Papandreou loses the vote tomorrow and the President of the Hellenic Republic, Karolos Papoulias, turns to the other political party leaders to determine if the existing Parliament could form a government. The final scenario, if these efforts fail to build a government, would be new elections, as called for by the Greek Constitution. But it is most likely that a one-party government will not emerge from these elections.
The only way out of these three scenarios is to form a Grand Coalition government. What is a Grand Coalition government? In multi-party parliamentary systems, sometimes one-party governments cannot form. In such instances, coalition governments are often formed including more than one party in order to secure a Parliamentary majority, manage to form a government and pass legislation.
Greece’s history with such governments in the late 1980s does not exactly inspire faith, and the global stakes were smaller then. A grand coalition would entail the cooperation of all the political parties that are in favor of a European future for Greece. They would be ready to support the austerity measures needed to balance the Greek budget and overcome the solvency problem, but most importantly they would be the the parties that can agree on the composition of such a government. This last feature of a Grand Coalition is particularly valuable at a time when consensus-building in the Greek parliament has become nearly impossible.
What remains left out of this discussion is the Greek people. They voted two years ago for a party running on an anti-austerity platform and this is not what they received. Perhaps the current political system is afraid to hear their message. "Thymos" may not be the best state of mind to make choices.
Regardless, the Greek political leadership's ownership of the austerity program and responsible governance are necessary steps toward resolving Greece's legitimacy crisis, which would then allow them to confront the Greek people with the responsibility they must take in order to end the financial crisis.
Co-author Thomas Meaney is a doctoral candidate in history at Columbia University and an editor of The Utopian.
Call it reckless, call it bold, but the Greek Prime Minister, George Papandreou, has attempted to transform a referendum on the European Union bailout plan for Greece into a referendum about whether the Greeks want to stay in the Eurozone or not. The last time Greece had a popular referendum was in 1974 to decide if the people wanted to keep King Constantine, a descendent of the Royal family that European Powers foisted on the Greek people in the 1860s.
This time around, the Greek Prime Minister has shocked the rest of Europe—and even his own Vice President—with his plans to call for a popular vote on whether to accept the 50% haircut deal that EU heads of state agreed on last week to manage the country’s spiraling debt crisis. It’s the latest in a series of Hail Mary passes by Papandreou to keep his hold on power, but the proposed referendum is really only a distraction from the no-confidence vote he faces, which is scheduled in Greek Parliament this Friday. As hard as the Europeans leaders may have fought to prevent a Greek default, they failed to take into account the dire state of domestic Greek politics. But even at this moment the solution to the crisis must be a European one.
The gravest threat facing Papandreou right now is from the Greek people. His government party, PASOK, was elected two years ago on an anti-austerity platform, but has since been forced into the position of calling for more austerity than any Greek government in the postwar era. The demonstrations across the country last weekend that disrupted the parades commemorating the Greek resistance in World War II culminated with the forced departure of the President of the Republic, Karolos Papoulias, from the parade in Thessaloniki. The current political system has been facing a legitimacy crisis for a while now. The social contract, based on patronage, established between Greek politicians and the electorate following the fall of the Greek Junta in 1974 is under severe strain.
The second problem facing Papandreou is the dissent and distrust he is experiencing from his own party, which—for the moment—holds a bare majority of 152 seats out of 300 in the Greek Parliament. This past summer in a cabinet reshuffling, Papandreou tried to smooth out the problems in his party by appointing his main internal rival, Evangelos Venizelos, Vice President. But this accommodation reached its breaking point yesterday when Venizelos declared he had not been informed about the referendum by Papandreou, who nevertheless called on him to deliver the bad news to EU leaders. Meanwhile, the opposition parties claim that the government is blackmailing the Greek people and suggest that the only solution is to have early elections.
The crisis of legitimacy reached its peak yesterday when rumors about tensions between the government and the military leadership of the country became credible when the minister of Defense called for the replacement of all the heads of divisions of the armed forces. It would be a controversial decision in the best of times, but one that’s nearly impossible to carry out for a government facing unprecedented unpopularity.
The European Union leaders are dead against three outcomes: the collapse of the Greek parliament, the ouster of Papandreou on Friday, and the negative result of any kind of referendum on the bailout—all of which would ultimately spell the ejection of Greece from the Eurozone and spur financial chaos on the continent. The solution must come from Europe. The meeting at Cannes Thursday—where Papandreou has been invited by Merkel and Sarkozy—is his last chance to appease his European patrons.
The real question is not whether Greece will proceed or not with the referendum, but rather who controls Europe? Is it the Germans who seem to be the only ones who can undo the European Central Bank policy about printing money? The French and the Germans together who want to keep the Euro strong? Is it the speculators, banks and their interests? Or is the EU open to more democratic control whereby the voters can have a voice?
Whatever the outcome, Greece is now up against the wall thanks to Papandreou. The predicament has suddenly changed from a financial catastrophe and austerity measures to a question about political identity: Do Greeks belong in the European Union or not?
Co-author Thomas Meaney is a doctoral candidate in history at Columbia University and an editor of The Utopian.
Lost in Transition tells the story of the “lost generation” that came of age in Japan's deep economic recession in the 1990s. The book argues that Japan is in the midst of profound changes that have had an especially strong impact on the young generation. The country's renowned “permanent employment system” has unraveled for young workers, only to be replaced by temporary and insecure forms of employment. The much-admired system of moving young people smoothly from school to work has frayed. The book argues that these changes in the very fabric of Japanese postwar institutions have loosened young people's attachment to school as the launching pad into the world of work and loosened their attachment to the workplace as a source of identity and security. The implications for the future of Japanese society—and the fault lines within it—loom large.
I survey the influence of Grossman and Hart's (1986) seminal paper in the field of International Trade. I discuss the implementation of the theory in open-economy environments and its implications for the international organization of production and the structure of international trade flows. I also review empirical work suggestive of the empirical relevance of the property-rights theory. Along the way, I develop novel theoretical results and also outline some of the key limitations of existing contributions.