The scale of the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March was far greater than even the authorities’ worst nightmare scenarios foresaw. But Japan's crisis is also a rare opportunity to undertake the comprehensive reforms that have been postponed for too long.
TOKYO – The scale of the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March was far greater than even the authorities’ worst scenarios foresaw. Nearly six months later, the total damage remains difficult to estimate. Social unrest and confusion, as well as radiation leaks from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, continue.
And now the country has absorbed another huge blow: another downgrade of its bond ratings. Both Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s now rate Japanese bonds at only their fourth-highest level.
So what policies should be implemented in response to these economic blows?
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European Union leaders meeting in Brussels have given the go-ahead to talks with Britain on post-Brexit trade relations. But, as European Council President Donald Tusk has said, the most difficult challenge – forging a workable deal that secures broad political support on both sides – still lies ahead.
Jean Pisani-Ferry argues that Britain has no clear objective, owing to divisions in the ruling Conservative party, and that the EU-27 should provide the missing vision.
Harold James sees two possible outcomes to the talks: a “Hamlet" ending, with the stage littered with corpses, or a scenario recalling one of the Bard’s bleaker comedies, "All’s Well That Ends Well."
Rupert Murdoch’s sale of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets to Disney for $66 billion may mark the end of the media mogul’s career, which will long be remembered for its corrosive effect on democratic discourse on both sides of the Atlantic.
From enabling the rise of Donald Trump to hacking the telephone of a murdered British schoolgirl, Murdoch’s media empire has staked its success on stoking populist rage.
For Nina L Khrushcheva, Murdoch is the ultimate Guilty Man responsible for fueling the political polarization that has eroded governance in the US.
The late Jonathan Schell believed that Murdoch's power mostly stemmed from his willingness to pander to atavism and anti-Semitism to boost Fox News’ ratings.
But Murdoch hasn't been acting alone, argues Lucy P. Marcus, for he has been enabled by shareholders who turn a blind eye to his methods and toxic corporate culture.
As inequality continues to deepen worldwide, we do not have the luxury of sticking to the status quo.
Unless we confront the inequality challenge head on – as we have just begun to do with another existential threat, climate change – social cohesion, and especially democracy, will come under growing threat.
Despite seemingly robust indicators, the world economy may not be nearly as resilient to shocks and systemic challenges as the consensus view seems to believe. The absence of a vigorous rebound from the Great Recession means that the global economy never recouped lost growth.
Since the hyperinflation of the 1970s, which central banks were right to combat by whatever means necessary, maintaining positive but low inflation has become a monetary-policy obsession. But, because the world economy has changed dramatically since then, central bankers have started to miss the monetary-policy forest for the trees.
Jeffrey Frankel, a professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a former member of President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers, outlines the five criteria he uses to judge the efficacy of tax reform efforts. And in his view, the US Republicans’ most recent offering fails miserably.
CRISPR-Cas – a gene-editing technique that is far more precise and efficient than any that has come before it – is poised to change the world. But ensuring that those changes are positive – helping to fight tumors and mosquito-borne illnesses, for example – will require scientists to apply the utmost caution.
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.