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Long Reads

Is Populism Being Trumped?

The reactionary parochialism embraced by many voters in recent years has shaken political establishments and roiled markets. They needed it, but can policymakers build on recent signs of buyers’ remorse?

Is the populist tide going out? The last fortnight has given democrats everywhere reason to cheer – or at least to sleep a little better.

For starters, Donald Trump’s bid for the US presidency is being buried by a cascade of damning revelations, including that he has not paid any federal income tax for perhaps two decades, and that he feels entitled by his fame to assault women – call it droit de célébrité. Many Republican leaders have finally had enough, repudiating their party’s presidential nominee in an effort to preserve its House and Senate majorities.

In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s anti-immigrant referendum failed to attract sufficient turnout. Orbán says that he will nonetheless seek to constitutionalize the result; but the fact that more than half of the electorate stayed home suggests that his Svengali-like hold on voters may be slipping.

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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.