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Long Reads

PS Most-Read on Economics & World Affairs 2016

Political rage went global in 2016, fueling a populist backlash across the democratic world and appalling terrorist violence in the Middle East, Europe, and beyond. Here is a selection of commentaries – of the year's 1,140 published by Project Syndicate – on the global political upheaval of the last 12 months, and its economic causes and consequences, that resonated most with our online readers.


Globalization and its New Discontents
Joseph Stiglitz explains why neoliberalism’s chickens are now coming home – to Europe and the US – to roost.

Central Banking Goes Negative
Stephen Roach inveighs against monetary policymakers’ decision to push interest rates south of the zero bound.

The Abdication of the Left
Dani Rodrik asks why the political backlash against globalization has come mainly from the nationalist right.

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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.