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Jeffrey D. Sachs

Jeffrey D. Sachs



Articles by Jeffrey D. Sachs

America’s Unholy Crusade Against China

August 5, 2020

Last month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered an anti-China speech that was extremist, simplistic, and dangerous. If biblical literalists like Pompeo remain in power past November, they could well bring the world to the brink of a war that they expect and perhaps even seek.

NEW YORK – Many white Christian evangelicals in the United States have long believed that America has a God-given mission to save the world. Under the influence of this crusading mentality, US foreign policy has often swerved from diplomacy to war. It is in danger of doing so again.

How to Prevent the Looming Sovereign-Debt Crisis

Teradat Santivivut/Getty Images

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G20, Heal Thyself

July 15, 2020

As the world’s largest economies, the G20’s members have one overriding responsibility at their finance ministers’ upcoming meeting: to agree on actions to suppress the pandemic. Ensuring effective public-health measures is today’s essential economic policy.

NEW YORK – The G20 ministers of finance meet this week under the auspices of Saudi Arabia, which holds the group’s presidency this year. But it is hard to imagine the G20 countries leading the world, as they like to pretend that they do. Most of them can’t effectively lead themselves through the current COVID-19 crisis.

Toward a New Fiscal Constitution

PS OnPoint

Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

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How Inequality Fuels COVID-19 Deaths

June 29, 2020

High inequality undermines social cohesion, erodes public trust, and deepens political polarization, all of which negatively affect governments’ ability and readiness to respond to crises. This explains why the United States, Brazil, and Mexico account for nearly half of the world’s reported deaths since the start of the pandemic.

NEW YORK – Three countries – the United States, Brazil, and Mexico – account for nearly half (46%) of the world’s reported COVID-19 deaths, yet they contain only 8.6% of the world’s population. Some 60% of Europe’s deaths are concentrated in just three countries – Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom – which account for 38% of Europe’s population. There were many fewer deaths and lower

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Argentina and How to Avoid Global Financial Catastrophe

May 7, 2020

If handled with care, this year’s debt-service payments can and should be recapitalized at low interest rates to avoid a financial pile-up. If not, 2020 will mark a devastating new chapter of global financial crisis.

NEW YORK – When a single car skids on an icy highway, the result can be a 50-car wreck. So, too, with international financial markets: Mexico’s default in 1982 led to a pile-up of dozens of countries. Thailand’s devaluation in July 1997 triggered the Asian financial crisis. The Lehman Brothers bankruptcy in September 2008 set off the Great Recession around the world.

How Will the Great Cessation End?

PS OnPoint

Olivier Douliery/AFP via

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The East-West Divide in COVID-19 Control

April 8, 2020

The public health response will be decisive in stopping the COVID-19 coronavirus before it devastates entire populations in the West and around the world. And the right approach requires that the United States and Europe learn what we can from East Asia as rapidly as possible.

NEW YORK – East Asian countries are outperforming the United States and Europe in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the fact that the outbreak began in China, to which the rest of East Asia is very closely bound by trade and travel. The US and Europe should be learning as rapidly as possible about the East Asian approaches, which could still save vast numbers of lives in the West and the rest of the world.
An important starting point

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A Pandemic Is No Time for US Economic Sanctions

March 25, 2020

During the current COVID-19 crisis, containment efforts must be global, and at-risk countries must be able to count on all necessary international assistance. Sanctions by the government of the world’s largest economy make this impossible.

NEW YORK – Over the past several years, US President Donald Trump’s administration has unilaterally imposed harsh economic sanctions on several countries whose governments it seeks to punish. These measures are inhumane, violate international law, and cause pain and suffering among the people that the United States claims it wants to help. With the whole world now facing the COVID-19 pandemic, US sanctions have also become a direct threat to the survival of people inside those

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Wall Street Can’t Burn Bernie

February 25, 2020

America’s plutocrats and their media allies are certain that US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is unelectable, or that, if somehow elected, he would bring about the collapse of the republic. This disdain is both telling and absurd.

NEW YORK – The narcissism and Panglossian cluelessness of the Wall Street elite is a marvel to behold. Sitting on their perches of power, and enjoying tax breaks, easy money, and soaring stock markets, they are certain that all is best in this best of all possible worlds. Critics must be fools or devils. 
When China Sneezes

Xinhua/Zhang Ailin via Getty Images

The White Swans of 2020

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America’s Dangerous Iran Obsession

January 8, 2020

The US, seemingly with no awareness of its recent history with Iran, and led by an emotionally unbalanced president who believes he may commit murder and get away with it, is still acting out a 40-year-old psychological trauma. As usual, it’s others who are most at risk.

NEW YORK – US President Donald Trump’s order to assassinate Iran’s General Qassem Suleimani while on an official mission to Iraq was widely hailed in Trump’s jingoistic Republican Party. Government-sanctioned murders of foreign officials, clerics, and journalists are commonplace nowadays. Yet there is something special about America’s bloodlust against Iran. It is a 40-year-old obsession that has now brought the United States and Iran to the brink of war.

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The UK’s Electoral System Failed

December 16, 2019

First-past-the-post voting has been praised for promoting political stability by producing two-party or nearly two-party systems. Yet, as the outcome of the United Kingdom’s recent election shows, that supposed benefit comes at the price of a government in which a minority can ride roughshod over the interests and preferences of more than half of the population.

NEW YORK – On the most important issue in the United Kingdom’s modern history – whether to leave the European Union or remain – the UK’s electoral system produced an absurd result. A majority of the UK public wants to remain in the EU, and actually voted accordingly in the parliamentary election on December 12. Yet the election produced a large majority for

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Europe’s Green Deal

December 13, 2019

The Green Deal announced by the European Commission is a demonstration of European social democracy at work. A mixed economy, combining markets, government regulation, the public sector, and civil society, will pursue a mixed strategy, combining public goals, public and private investments, and public support.

NEW YORK – Europe has done it. The European Green Deal announced by the European Commission is the first comprehensive plan to achieve sustainable development in any major world region. As such, it becomes a global benchmark – a “how-to” guide for planning the transformation to a prosperous, socially inclusive, and environmentally sustainable economy.
Cronies Everywhere

PS

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How World Bank Arbitrators Mugged Pakistan

November 26, 2019

Thanks to the World Bank’s flawed and corrupt investment arbitration process, the rich are making a fortune at the expense of poor countries. The latest shakedown is a $5.9 billion award against Pakistan’s government in favor of two global mining companies for an illegal project that was never approved or carried out.

NEW YORK – Wall Street hedge funds and lawyers have turned an arcane procedure of international treaties into a money machine, at the cost of the world’s poorest people. The latest shakedown is a $5.9 billion award against Pakistan’s government in favor of two global mining companies – Antofagasta PLC of Chile and Barrick Gold Corporation of Canada – for a project that was never approved by Pakistan and

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America’s War on Chinese Technology

November 7, 2019

In the run up to the Iraq War, then-US Vice President Richard Cheney declared that even if the risk of weapons of mass destruction falling into terrorist hands was tiny, say 1%, we should act as if it were certain by invading. The US is at it again, creating a panic over Chinese technologies by exaggerating tiny risks.

NEW YORK – The worst foreign-policy decision by the United States of the last generation – and perhaps longer – was the “war of choice” that it launched in Iraq in 2003 for the stated purpose of eliminating weapons of mass destruction that did not, in fact, exist. Understanding the illogic behind that disastrous decision has never been more relevant, because it is being used to justify a similarly

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America’s War on Chinese Technology

November 7, 2019

In the run up to the Iraq War, then-US Vice President Richard Cheney declared that even if the risk of weapons of mass destruction falling into terrorist hands was tiny, say 1%, we should act as if it were certain by invading. The US is at it again, creating a panic over Chinese technologies by exaggerating tiny risks.

NEW YORK – The worst foreign-policy decision by the United States of the last generation – and perhaps longer – was the “war of choice” that it launched in Iraq in 2003 for the stated purpose of eliminating weapons of mass destruction that did not, in fact, exist. Understanding the illogic behind that disastrous decision has never been more relevant, because it is being used to justify a similarly

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Why Rich Cities Rebel

October 22, 2019

Having lost touch with public sentiment, officials in Paris, Hong Kong, and Santiago failed to anticipate that a seemingly modest policy action (a fuel-tax increase, an extradition bill, and higher metro prices, respectively) would trigger a massive social explosion.

NEW YORK – Three of the world’s more affluent cities have erupted in protests and unrest this year. Paris has faced waves of protests and rioting since November 2018, soon after French President Emmanuel Macron raised fuel taxes. Hong Kong has been in upheaval since March, after Chief Executive Carrie Lam proposed a law to allow extradition to the Chinese mainland. And Santiago exploded in rioting this month after President Sebastian Piñera ordered an

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The Path to Climate Safety

October 9, 2019

The global toll from weather-related disasters in 2018 was more than $200 billion, and annual losses in the United States alone averaged around $100 billion during 2014-18. And the latest climate science tells us that there is much worse to come unless we abide by the 1.5ºC limit.

NEW YORK – The global climate agenda has been greatly clarified in recent years. We now know that Earth’s average temperature is on a path to increase by around 3º Celsius, relative to preindustrial levels, by 2100, which is twice the 1.5ºC limit targeted by the 2015 Paris climate agreement. We know that weather-related damage is rapidly mounting. We know that to stay below the 1.5ºC threshold, we need to reach zero net greenhouse-gas

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Food for Sustainable Development

September 24, 2019

All companies in the food sector, both producers and distributors, should adopt clear guidelines, metrics, and reporting standards to align with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate agreement. Specifically, each company must address four critical questions.

NEW YORK – Feeding a planet of 7.7 billion people is no easy matter. Every person on the planet needs, expects, and has the right to a healthy diet. Every farmer needs, expects, and has the right to a decent livelihood. The roughly ten million other species on the planet need a habitat in which they can survive. And every business that produces, processes, and transports food needs and expects to earn a profit.
The

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Europe Must Oppose Trump

August 19, 2019

European leaders should recognize that a significant majority of Americans reject Trump’s malignant narcissism. By opposing Trump and defending the international rule of law, Europeans and Americans together can strengthen world peace and transatlantic amity for generations to come.

NEW YORK – With Donald Trump due to visit Europe again for the G7 summit later this month, European leaders have run out of options for dealing with the US president. They have tried to charm him, persuade him, ignore him, or agree to disagree with him. Yet Trump’s malevolence is bottomless. The only alternative, therefore, is to oppose him.
The Case for a Guaranteed Job

PS OnPoint

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The Crisis of Anglo-American Democracy

July 25, 2019

There is an obvious answer to the question of how the world’s two oldest and most venerable democracies installed disordered minds in power and enabled them to pursue unpopular policies. But there is also a deeper explanation.

NEW YORK – How did the world’s two most venerable and influential democracies – the United Kingdom and the United States – end up with Donald Trump and Boris Johnson at the helm? Trump is not wrong to call Johnson the “Britain Trump” (sic). Nor is this merely a matter of similar personalities or styles: it is also a reflection of glaring flaws in the political institutions that enabled such men to win power.
Is Politics Getting to the Fed?

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America’s Economic Blockades and International Law

June 28, 2019

Trump is often called an isolationist, but he is as interventionist as his predecessors. His strategy is simply to rely more heavily on US economic power than military might to coerce adversaries, which creates its own kind of cruelty and destabilization – and embodies its own brand of illegality.

NEW YORK – US President Donald Trump has based his foreign policy on a series of harsh economic blockades, each designed to frighten, coerce, and even starve the target country into submitting to American demands. While the practice is less violent than a military attack, and the blockade is through financial means rather than the navy, the consequences are often dire for civilian populations. As

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America’s Illusions of Growth

May 14, 2019

Many commentators have interpreted buoyant GDP and unemployment data in the United States as vindicating President Donald Trump’s economic policies, and some suggest that his re-election chances have improved as a result. But these indicators fail to measure what really counts for the public.

NEW YORK – National politics in the United States has become enslaved to macroeconomic indicators that have little bearing on true wellbeing. For many commentators, the snapshot growth rate of 3.2% for the first quarter of 2019, coupled with a decline in the unemployment rate to 3.6% in April, implies that President Donald Trump’s economic policies have been vindicated, and some suggest that his

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Our Zero-Emission Future

April 15, 2019

A low-cost shift to clean energy is now feasible for every region of the world, owing to the plummeting costs of solar and wind power, and breakthroughs in energy storage. The total system costs of renewable energy, including transmission and storage, are now roughly on par with fossil fuels.

NEW YORK – The solution to human-induced climate change is finally in clear view. Thanks to rapid advances in zero-carbon energy technologies, and in sustainable food systems, the world can realistically end greenhouse-gas emissions by mid-century at little or no incremental cost, and with decisive benefits for safety and health. The main obstacle is inertia: politicians continue to favor the fossil-fuel industry and traditional

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The Trump Contagion

March 25, 2019

US President Donald Trump’s growing rages may partly be the result of cognitive decline, suggested, for example, by his deteriorating ability to form complete sentences, use complex words, and maintain a coherent train of thought. What is certain is that Trump is putting the world at risk.

NEW YORK – Mental health professionals and others have been trying to warn the public about the dangers of US President Donald Trump since his election. Trump’s extreme narcissism, sadism, lack of empathy, and admiration for despots are on daily display. Some may wish to see him as a self-absorbed clown, but he is a clear and present danger to the world who must be prevented from leading (or misleading) it to disaster.

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The Dangerous Absurdity of America’s Trade Wars

March 14, 2019

US President Donald Trump’s trade policies not only seek to improve America’s external balance, but also represent a misguided attempt to contain China and even to weaken Europe. Seen in this context, Trump’s misconceived trade wars are nearly as predictable as the macroeconomic imbalances they have so spectacularly failed to address.

NEW YORK – Don Quixote fought windmills. US President Donald Trump fights trade deficits. Both battles are absurd, but at least Quixote’s was tinged with idealism. Trump’s is drenched in enraged ignorance.

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Fully Filling the Global Fund

January 10, 2019

In a world divided by conflict and greed, the Global Fund’s fight against AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria is a matter of enlightened self-interest and a reminder of how much humanity can accomplish when we cooperate to save lives. For public and private donors, that means providing the financing needed to eliminate all three scourges by 2030.

NEW YORK – The single most important public health measure of 2019 is the replenishment of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. These three diseases, which currently kill around 2.5 million people per year, could be fully contained by 2030, with deaths reduced to nearly zero. The Global Fund is the primary instrument for success, and it needs to raise $10 billion per

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Trump’s Syria Withdrawal is a Chance for Peace

January 2, 2019

From Donald Trump’s point of view, a US-installed Syrian puppet regime that would push out Russia and Iran is neither central to US national security nor practicable. And, here, Trump is right for a change.

NEW YORK – President Donald Trump’s announced withdrawal of US forces from Syria has met with near-universal condemnation by Democrats and Republicans alike. That says less about Trump than it does about the US foreign policy establishment’s blinkered vision.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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The mainstream of both political parties exhibits certain reflexive judgments: that the US must maintain a troop presence all over the world in order to prevent

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For Climate Safety, Call in the Engineers

December 20, 2018

At the recent United Nations Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland, diplomats delivered a "rulebook" to guide all countries in combating global warming. When world leaders convene at the UN next September to advance climate safety further, the world’s leading engineers should greet them with a global framework for action.

NEW YORK – This month’s United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP24) in Katowice, Poland succeeded in producing a rulebook to implement the 2015 Paris climate agreement. Every UN member state signed on. But that will not be enough to head off climate catastrophe. It’s time to call in the engineers. 

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The War on Huawei

December 11, 2018

The Trump administration’s conflict with China has little to do with US external imbalances, closed Chinese markets, or even China’s alleged theft of intellectual property. It has everything to do with containing China by limiting its access to foreign markets, advanced technologies, global banking services, and perhaps even US universities.

NEW YORK – The arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou is a dangerous move by US President Donald Trump’s administration in its intensifying conflict with China. If, as Mark Twain reputedly said, history often rhymes, our era increasingly recalls the period preceding 1914. As with Europe’s great powers back then, the United States, led by an administration intent on asserting America’s dominance

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Financing International Cooperation

November 27, 2018

Today’s world must combat climate change, manage surging migration, and confront a host of other threats to international peace and stability. Yet, because taxation and spending are overwhelmingly carried out at the national and local levels, needs that must be addressed at the global and regional levels are increasingly going unmet.

NEW YORK – Today, the provision of public goods and services at the global and regional level is dangerously inadequate. The United Nations system, the European Union, and other multilateral organizations are under great stress, because their budgets are inadequate to meet their responsibilities.

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Trump’s Diminishing Power and Rising Rage

November 12, 2018

The coming months may be especially dangerous for America and the world. As US President Donald Trump’s political position weakens and the obstacles facing him grow, his mental instability will pose an ever-greater danger.

NEW YORK – The drama of Donald Trump’s presidency has centered around whether an extremist president would be able to carry out an extremist policy agenda against the will of the majority of Americans. So far the answer has been no, and the midterm elections make it far less likely. Yet Trump’s rising frustrations could push him over the edge psychologically, with potentially harrowing consequences for American democracy and the world.

Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images

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Killer Politicians

October 24, 2018

Americans are rightly horrified at Jamal Khashoggi’s brutal murder, yet most fail to recognize that their own leaders’ murderous ways may be little different than those who ordered Khashoggi’s death. The pervasiveness of state-sponsored killings is no excuse for treating murder as acceptable, ever.

NEW YORK – “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?” asked Henry II as he instigated the murder of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, in 1170. Down through the ages, presidents and princes around the world have been murderers and accessories to murder, as the great Harvard sociologist Pitirim Sorokin and Walter Lunden documented in statistical detail in their masterwork Power and Morality. One of their main findings was that the

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