Taxi driver demonstration in buenos aires Eitan Abramovich/Getty Images

The Year Ahead 2017

Economic Impossibilities for Our Grandchildren?

The reason lower- and middle-class people are suffering economically is not immigration or trade, but rather the steady march of technology. As jobs are replaced by machines or off-shored to emerging economies, global GDP is expanding, but the benefits are accruing only to the top earners.

NEW YORK – Austria’s close-call presidential election on December 4, which almost brought a far-right nationalist to power, was a telling coda to a sad year. The uncertainty and fear that many people feel today is reminiscent of W.H. Auden’s poem “September 1, 1939”: “As the clever hopes expire/Of a low dishonest decade.”

2016 was a year when many countries lurched rightward, toward leaders and political parties that serve partisan interests and narrow identities. And this is no fleeting aberration: the trend toward vicious politics is partly rooted in ongoing economic changes that have now reached an inflection point.

The poor and the middle class have seen their jobs disappear and their incomes erode, and they are now flailing against the status quo, desperately ignoring the fact that they are choosing leaders who will only make matters worse.

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  1. Financial planning report Getty Images

    The Metric God That Failed

    • Over the past few decades, formal institutions have increasingly been subjected to performance measurements that define success or failure according to narrow and arbitrary metrics. 

    • The outcome should have been predictable: institutions have done what they can to boost their performance metrics, often at the expense of performance itself.
  2.  Laborers fill orders of machine grade steel to be shipped throughout the Pacific Northwest Natalie Behring/Getty Images

    Trump and the All-American Trade Debate

    • Donald Trump’s recently announced tariffs on imported steel and aluminum have raised fears that his administration will roll back the rules-based free-trade system that has facilitated global commerce since World War II. 

    • But a closer examination of the history of US trade policy shows that Trump’s protectionist gambits are neither new, nor likely to have a lasting effect.
  3. Pictures of Chief Executive Carrie Lam and Financial Secretary Paul Chan of Hong Kong ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images

    The Asian Values Debate Returns

    • For the time being, concrete evidence of policy success in countries like China and India may well be the most effective way to buttress the case for applying non-Western perspectives to national development strategies. 

    • But, in the longer term, non-Western thinkers will need to translate their ideas into testable models and theories.
  4. MONEY SHARMA/AFP/Getty Images

    Saving Mothers and Newborns

    • Tens of thousands of mothers and newborns die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth every year, which is why maternal and perinatal mortality is still one of world’s most daunting public-health challenges. 

    • But recent research finds that a comprehensive systems-based approach provides reason for hope.