The explanation is in the piece. Here's the logic: If you try to reduce demand for a product, but actively maintain a supply of that product, it sends a confusing signal to the market. If you want consumers to stop buying something, surely you also have to communicate that it will no longer be available. For as long as governments stockpile ivory, consumers are likely to buy ivory whenever they can, believing that the trade will one day resume. That undermines the credibility and therefore the efficacy of demand reduction campaigns. These campaigns try to convince consumers that their purchase of ivory directly destroys elephants. Why would they believe that line if they see African governments keeping ivory in the hope of being able to sell it one day?
Thanks Bernhard for your comment. The problem is that 100 tonnes would not be released onto the market at once. It would be sold to legitimate traders (chosen by the government), who would then sell the value-added product to consumers as per a normal business model. There are two problems with your argument. One is that using the proceeds from stockpile sales to fund demand reduction campaigns is contradictory - you'd be selling to the consumers you're trying to convince should not buy ivory. Second, for as long as governments can make money from selling stockpiles, what incentive do they have to actually prevent poaching? They can simply wait until the elephant is poached and then confiscate the ivory to sell it themselves. While the ivory is not a dangerous product, as you point out, its sale sends a dangerous signal to the market that the trade is legitimate. Destroying the exchange value of ivory, and increasing the use value of elephants, means that you have to destroy exchange value at both the supply and demand ends of the spectrum.
China’s success in the next five years will depend largely on how well the government manages the tensions underlying its complex agenda. In particular, China’s leaders will need to balance a muscular Communist Party, setting standards and protecting the public interest, with an empowered market, driving the economy into the future.
The preference of some countries to isolate themselves within their borders is anachronistic and self-defeating, but it would be a serious mistake for others, fearing contagion, to respond by imposing strict isolation. Even in states that have succumbed to reductionist discourses, much of the population has not.
When the Bretton Woods Agreement was hashed out in 1944, it was agreed that countries with current-account deficits should be able to limit temporarily purchases of goods from countries running surpluses. In the ensuing 73 years, the so-called "scarce-currency clause" has been largely forgotten; but it may be time to bring it back.
Republican leaders have a choice: they can either continue to collaborate with President Donald Trump, thereby courting disaster, or they can renounce him, finally putting their country’s democracy ahead of loyalty to their party tribe. They are hardly the first politicians to face such a decision.
As the global economic recovery strengthens, and central banks move to raise interest rates, they need to improve their communication with the general public. To do that, they should follow the trail blazed by Donald Trump.
With talks on the UK's withdrawal from the EU stalled, negotiators should shift to the temporary “transition” Prime Minister Theresa May officially requested last month. Above all, the negotiators should focus immediately on the British budget contributions that will be required to make an orderly transition possible.
In recent decades, as President Vladimir Putin has entrenched his authority, Russia has seemed to be moving backward socially and economically. But while the Kremlin knows that it must reverse this trajectory, genuine reform would be incompatible with the kleptocratic character of Putin’s regime.
As a part of their efforts to roll back the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, congressional Republicans have approved a measure that would have courts, rather than regulators, oversee megabank bankruptcies. It is now up to the Trump administration to decide if it wants to set the stage for a repeat of the Lehman Brothers collapse in 2008.