A Mined History: The Bougainville Referendum

It would be an understatement to claim that Bougainville, that blighted piece of autonomous territory in Papua New Guinea, had been through a lot. Companies have preyed upon its environment with extractive hunger. Wars and civil strife have beset its infrastructure and economy. Some 900 kilometres..

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Trump’s Racist Ban on Anti-Semitism

US President Donald Trump thinks that anti-Semitism is a serious problem in America. But Trump is not so much concerned about neo-Nazis who scream that Jews and other minorities “will not replace us,” for he thinks that many white supremacists are “very fine people.” No, Trump is more..

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Economic Growth Is the Answer Thursday, December 12th, 2019

December is usually a time for looking back on the past year and forward to the year ahead. In 2019, we have witnessed rising political extremism (on both the left and right) and polarization, increased government instability, and growing tensions between central and subnational governments. Each..

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The Lives You Saved Wednesday, December 11th, 2019

A decade ago, I wrote The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty. This month, a fully revised Tenth Anniversary edition was published, and is available, free, as an eBook and audiobook. The chapters of the audiobook are read by celebrities, including Paul Simon, Kristen Bell, Stephen..

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If Wealth Is Justified, so Is a Wealth Tax Tuesday, December 10th, 2019

Economic inequality has moved to the top of the political agenda in many countries, including free-market poster children like the United States and the United Kingdom. The issue is mobilizing the left and causing headaches on the right, where wealth has long been viewed as worthy of celebration,..

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How Trolls Overran the Public Square Monday, December 9th, 2019

Since 1900, human technology and organization have been evolving at a blistering pace. The degree of change that occurs in just one year would have taken 50 years or more before 1500. War and politics used to be the meat of human history, with advances in technology and organization unfolding very..

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Government Debt Is Not a Free Lunch Saturday, December 7th, 2019

With interest rates on government debt at multi-decade lows, a number of leading economists have argued that almost every advanced economy can allow debt to drift up toward Japanese levels (over 150% of GDP even by the most conservative measure) without any great concern about long-term..

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Mapping the Digital Economy in 2020 Friday, December 6th, 2019

From mobile Internet to artificial intelligence, blockchain to big data, digital technologies have the potential to bring about dramatic improvements in human wellbeing. But they also pose serious risks to communities and individuals in their roles as consumers, workers, and citizens. Reaping the..

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What EU “Geopolitical” Power Will Cost

With former German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen assuming the presidency of the European Commission, the European Union now has a new executive. Von der Leyen has promised to lead a “geopolitical” Commission, believing that Europe needs to be more assertive in its relations with other..

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Eight Norms for Stability in Cyberspace Wednesday, December 4th, 2019

In little more than a generation, the Internet has become a vital substrate for economic, social, and political interactions, and it has unlocked enormous gains. Along with greater interdependence, however, come vulnerability and conflict. Attacks by states and non-state actors have increased,..

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Macron’s NATO Mistake

Who in Europe today has a strategic vision of the world that takes account of radical changes to the global order and transcends lazy and comfortable conventional wisdom? At the risk of being accused of national bias, only one name comes to mind: French President Emmanuel Macron. Yet, in his..

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Can Iran Outlast Trump? Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019

Since President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear agreement in May 2018 and re-imposed sanctions, Iran’s economic output has dropped significantly. Though economic collapse is not imminent, time is not on Iran’s side. With US politics in tumult, and a presidential..

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The Problem With “Green” Monetary Policy Monday, December 2nd, 2019

As an alarming new United Nations report shows, climate change is probably the biggest challenge of our time. But should central banks also be worrying about the issue? If so, what should they be doing about it? Central-bank representatives who do decide to make public speeches about climate..

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The AI Frontier of Economic Theory

Until recently, two big impediments limited what research economists could learn about the world with the powerful methods that mathematicians and statisticians, starting in the early nineteenth century, developed to recognize and interpret patterns in noisy data: Data sets were small and costly,..

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Hong Kong Says No to the China Dream Friday, November 29th, 2019

At the beginning of his satirical novel China Dream, which has a cover designed by the dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, Ma Jian expresses his gratitude to George Orwell, author of 1984 and Animal Farm. Orwell, he says, “foretold it all.” Ma, whose work is banned in China and who lives in..

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The Liveris Formula: Dow’s Inclusive Capitalism Thursday, November 28th, 2019

Parasites have a certain weight in history. Donors to a system, a state, a company, always claim to be giving back what they advertise as their hard earned cash. Andrew N. Liveris is one such character. Former CEO of the Dow Chemical corporation, he is a face associated with a company that was..

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The Case for Old-Fashioned Tariff Cuts Wednesday, November 27th, 2019

The “bicycle theory” used to be a metaphor for international trade policy. Just as standing still on a bicycle is not an option – one must keep moving forward or else fall over – so it was said that trade negotiators must engage in successive rounds of liberalization. Otherwise, global..

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The Power of Green Public Finance

Policymakers and pundits have been wringing their hands over the crises afflicting the European Union, arguing that it is falling behind in confronting major threats to its long-term survival. Yet on the issue of climate change, nothing could be further from the truth. In mid-November, EU member..

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Cronies Everywhere Friday, December 13th, 2019

“Western market capitalism” is generally defined as a system in which many economic agents interact and compete in decentralized competitive markets, with the..

The Calm After Britain’s Brexit Election Friday, December 13th, 2019

Which Way for Europe on China? Thursday, December 12th, 2019

How to Revive the WTO Wednesday, December 11th, 2019