Last year, India's GDP growth decelerated, manufacturing plummeted, and corruption grew uncontrollably, while the government failed to enact even a single piece of legislation, much less undertake any economic reforms, control inflation, or address widespread civil disorder. Will 2012 prove to be a year of renewal for India, or another annus horribilis?
NEW DELHI – Will 2012 prove to be a year of renewal for India, or another annus horribilis? No country progresses unerringly, but India cannot afford another politically and economically torpid year like 2011. For India, last year is a year best forgotten.
India has been so deeply mired in political paralysis that the Nobel laureate economist Amartya Sen recently said that the country has “fallen from being the second best to the second worst” South Asian country, and that it is currently “no match for China” on social indicators. This is a damning comment on a country that held such promise just a short time ago.
In early January, the American social critic James Howard Kunstler described India as “a nation with one foot in the modern age and the other in a colorful hallucinatory dreamtime.” Kunstler’s view is harsh, but perhaps prophetic: India’s “climate-change-related problems are doing heavy damage to the food supply. Their groundwater is almost gone. The troubles of the wobbling global economy will take a lot of pep out of their burgeoning tech and manufacturing sectors.”
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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.