The current economic crisis could help us to appreciate that many things are more central to our happiness than our ability to spend money on fashion, expensive watches, and fine dining. But the danger is that the potential for a real change in values will be co-opted, as has happened so often before, by those who see it as just another opportunity to make money.
MELBOURNE – Is the global financial crisis an opportunity to forge a new form of capitalism based on sound values?
So French President Nicholas Sarkozy and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair appear to think. At a symposium in Paris last month entitled “New World, New Capitalism,” Sarkozy described capitalism based on financial speculation as “an immoral system” that has “perverted the logic of capitalism.” He argued that capitalism needs to find new moral values and to accept a stronger role for governments. Blair called for a new financial order based on “values other than the maximum short-term profit.”
It is surprising how readily politicians of all parties – even strong ideological defenders of the unregulated market – accepted the idea that the state should bail out banks and insurance companies when they got into trouble. With the exception of a small number of ideologically committed defenders of free enterprise, few were willing to take the risks inherent in letting major banks collapse.
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In the first year of his presidency, Donald Trump has consistently sold out the blue-collar, socially conservative whites who brought him to power, while pursuing policies to enrich his fellow plutocrats.
Sooner or later, Trump's core supporters will wake up to this fact, so it is worth asking how far he might go to keep them on his side.
A Saudi prince has been revealed to be the buyer of Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi," for which he spent $450.3 million. Had he given the money to the poor, as the subject of the painting instructed another rich man, he could have restored eyesight to nine million people, or enabled 13 million families to grow 50% more food.
While many people believe that technological progress and job destruction are accelerating dramatically, there is no evidence of either trend. In reality, total factor productivity, the best summary measure of the pace of technical change, has been stagnating since 2005 in the US and across the advanced-country world.
The Bollywood film Padmavati has inspired heated debate, hysterical threats of violence, and a ban in four states governed by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party – all before its release. The tolerance that once accompanied India’s remarkable diversity is wearing thin these days.
The Hungarian government has released the results of its "national consultation" on what it calls the "Soros Plan" to flood the country with Muslim migrants and refugees. But no such plan exists, only a taxpayer-funded propaganda campaign to help a corrupt administration deflect attention from its failure to fulfill Hungarians’ aspirations.
French President Emmanuel Macron wants European leaders to appoint a eurozone finance minister as a way to ensure the single currency's long-term viability. But would it work, and, more fundamentally, is it necessary?
The US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel comes in defiance of overwhelming global opposition. The message is clear: the Trump administration is determined to dictate the Israeli version of peace with the Palestinians, rather than to mediate an equitable agreement between the two sides.
The Year Ahead 2018
The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.