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Articles by PS Commentators

Doing Business with China

9 days ago

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The terms of the West’s economic engagement with China are again in the spotlight, as a result of the European Union’s recent investment agreement with the country and the change of administration in the United States. In particular, can Western leaders balance political and human-rights concerns regarding China with firms’ desire to do more business with it?
In this Big Picture, Columbia University’s Jeffrey D. Sachs welcomes the new EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment and hopes for renewed great-power cooperation to end the COVID-19 pandemic and foster a green, digital global

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Trump’s Failed Putsch

16 days ago

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Amid chaotic scenes at the US Capitol on January 6, senior Republicans, in a belated attempt to salvage their reputations, distanced themselves from President Donald Trump’s persistent refusal to accept the result of the presidential election and commit to a peaceful transfer of power. But the raging, conspiracy-mongering hysteria of Trump loyalists, and the fact that more than 74 million Americans voted for him in 2020, raise grave questions about the state of US society, and whether Trumpism is really a spent political force.
In this Big Picture, The New School’s Nina L. Khrushcheva sees

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The Legacy of 2020

23 days ago

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As if COVID-19’s impact in 2020 was not pervasive enough, its long-term implications may be even broader and more far-reaching. Even if vaccines bring an end to the pandemic as quickly as hoped, they will not reverse its most consequential effects on governance, geopolitics, and culture.
In this Big Picture, former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis says the COVID-19 crisis has shown that national governments, which had seemingly been sidelined by globalization, in fact retain enormous power. Arguing in a similar vein, former Spanish foreign minister Ana Palacio thinks the pandemic may

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The Gift of a COVID Vaccine?

December 24, 2020

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The world will not conquer the COVID-19 pandemic until the coronavirus has been vanquished everywhere. And if advanced economies’ vaccine nationalism continues to win out for now over international cooperation, then the vast majority of the world’s population risks having almost no access to lifesaving interventions.
In this Big Picture, Seth Berkley of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Richard Hatchett of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and Soumya Swaminathan of the World Health Organization argue that the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility (COVAX), which aims to provide

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DEBATE: Targeting Reduced Emissions

December 22, 2020

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Five years ago, nearly 200 countries adopted the Paris climate accord, agreeing to keep the global increase in temperature below 2°C relative to pre-industrial levels, and ideally below 1.5°C. Each country committed to setting emissions-reduction targets – “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs) – and to updating these targets at five-year intervals. In the run-up to next year’s COP26 summit in Glasgow, the issue of countries’ individual climate pledges is back in the spotlight.
Columbia University’s Shang-Jin Wei argues that we can do better than relying on voluntary pledges, and

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America’s Looming Fiscal Battle

December 18, 2020

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US President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to “build back better” from the pandemic-induced economic crisis, and has chosen the widely respected former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen to be Secretary of the Treasury in his administration. But Yellen’s bipartisan appeal will not smooth the treacherous fiscal path that Biden will have to navigate between suddenly “prudent” congressional Republicans and the left of his own party.
In this Big Picture, Laura Tyson, a former chair of President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers, and McKinsey & Company’s Lenny Mendonca call on Congress

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The Sovereign-Debt Crunch

December 11, 2020

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At their November summit, G20 leaders adopted a new common framework for restructuring sovereign debt on a case-by-case basis. Could this be the first step toward a comprehensive global resolution mechanism, and what intermediate alternatives might be feasible?
In this Big Picture, Paola Subacchi of the University of London’s Queen Mary Global Policy Institute says the G20 initiative needs to be expanded into a common sovereign-debt restructuring scheme involving multilateral institutions. Similarly, Columbia University’s Willem H. Buiter and Anne Sibert of Birkbeck, University of London

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Destination Net-Zero

December 4, 2020

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China is aiming to halt the rise in its carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and become carbon neutral before 2060, just ten years after the European Union. Although the Chinese and European pledges are currently not legally binding, they will likely have far-reaching implications for both the global green transition and great-power politics.
In this Big Picture, the European Climate Foundation’s Laurence Tubiana argues that the two powers’ recent net-zero commitments, far from being merely aspirational, reflect a recognition that whoever moves first toward decarbonization will have a major

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Europe’s Populist High Noon

November 27, 2020

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Hungary and Poland have vetoed the European Union’s proposed €1.15 trillion ($1.4 trillion) seven-year budget and the €750 billion European recovery fund, rejecting the EU’s plan to condition its funds on member governments’ adherence to the rule of law. What will this latest crisis reveal about the EU’s commitment to democratic principles, and its ability and willingness to tackle the populist threat?
In this Big Picture, George Soros urges the EU to stand up to Hungary and Poland, arguing that the bloc cannot afford to compromise on enforcing the rule of law if it wishes to survive as an

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Palestine’s Agony

November 20, 2020

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A permanent settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict may not be a lost cause, but for many Arab governments it seems to be less important than ever. With other Arab states likely to follow the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in normalizing relations with Israel, do the Palestinians still have a viable path to an independent state of their own?
In this Big Picture, Majdi Khaldi, a senior diplomatic adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, argues that Israel’s refusal to accept the 1967 border and an independent Palestine is a rejection of the simple principle of Palestinian rights.

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Waiting for Biden

November 13, 2020

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Most international leaders have congratulated US President-elect Joe Biden, and many welcome the prospect of reviving moribund multilateralism once he takes office in January. But how can Europe and other US allies best engage with Biden’s administration on key global issues, and how should America wield its declining relative power in an increasingly complex and polarized world?
In this Big Picture, Josef Joffe of Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, who sits on Die Zeit’s editorial board, argues that Biden will not completely reverse America’s inward turn, which predates President

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The Trumpian Persuasion

November 6, 2020

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The hotly contested – but so far peaceful – US presidential election on November 3 generated historically high turnout and will most likely result in a victory for Democratic challenger, Joe Biden. But the election is no less important for what the strength of President Donald Trump’s popular support implies about the electorate and the future of American democracy.
In this Big Picture, Nina L. Khrushcheva of The New School says Trump’s higher vote tally compared to 2016 suggests he may be a master of propaganda, and not – as many Democrats like to think – a mere lackey of Russian President

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America’s Existential Election

November 3, 2020

It’s Election Day in the United States. What happens today – and in the coming days or weeks – will have far-reaching implications not only for Americans, but for people worldwide. In today’s special Say More feature, three PS contributors and US policy experts – MIT’s Daron Acemoglu, Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass, and New America CEO Anne-Marie Slaughter – consider the stakes.

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American Apocalypse?

October 30, 2020

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The political temperature in the United States has reached boiling point in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election. With President Donald Trump refusing to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, and partisan divisions threatening to escalate into armed conflict, many anxious Americans fear the worst.
In this Big Picture, Federico Finchelstein of the New School for Social Research, Pablo Piccato of Columbia University, and Yale’s Jason Stanley argue that if Trump refuses to accept electoral defeat, he will have nowhere else to turn but toward a distinctively fascist form of

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Big Tech Reckoning

October 23, 2020

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The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the market power of large technology companies and the inadequacy of current digital governance and regulation. What should policymakers do to address Big Tech’s growing clout and build an equitable digital economy?
In this Big Picture, the University of Cambridge’s Diane Coyle predicts that the accelerating shift online owing to the pandemic will intensify political and regulatory scrutiny of Big Tech. Robert B. Reich of the University of California, Berkeley compares today’s technology giants to the US “robber barons” of the late nineteenth

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The People’s Bankers?

October 16, 2020

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Strategy reviews by many of the world’s central banks, notably the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank, have sharpened the debate about the role and limits of monetary policy. Besides maintaining price stability and, in some cases, supporting high levels of employment, should central bankers also actively help governments to tackle economic inequality and environmental threats?
In this Big Picture, Stefan Gerlach, a former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Ireland, applauds the Fed’s recent decision to incorporate inequality considerations into its policy framework, as well

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The Post-Pandemic Firm

October 9, 2020

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Even before COVID-19 struck, many were arguing that companies should generate value not only for investors, but also for employees, customers, suppliers, and society. But would such a shift necessarily require major changes in corporate purpose and governance, and in the long-dominant Western model of shareholder capitalism?In this Big Picture, the World Economic Forum’s Klaus Schwab argues that “stakeholder capitalism” is clearly the best response to today’s social and environmental challenges. But Raghuram G. Rajan of the University of Chicago argues that companies should continue to focus

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America’s Transition from Democracy?

October 2, 2020

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US President Donald Trump’s divisive rhetoric and disregard for democratic norms were on vivid display in the recent chaotic presidential debate, leaving few in any doubt as to the stakes involved in America’s November 3 election. But if Democratic nominee Joe Biden wins, will he be able to foster an inclusive economic recovery and start restoring trust and social solidarity?
In this Big Picture, Nobel laureate economist Edmund S. Phelps delivers a stinging critique of Trump’s economic record, and argues that Biden, if elected, would be far more responsive to the fears and aspirations of

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Will Multilateralism Survive?

September 25, 2020

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The rules-based international order established after World War II is sliding into dysfunction – just when cooperation to tackle multiple global threats is arguably more essential than ever. Would a change of leadership in the United States reinvigorate the United Nations and other multilateral institutions, or should efforts to strengthen international collaboration be focused elsewhere?
In this Big Picture, former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urges world leaders to remain true to the hopes of the organization’s founding generation by recommitting to global cooperation. To this end,

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Japan After Abe

September 18, 2020

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New Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga served as cabinet secretary throughout his predecessor Shinzo Abe’s eight-year tenure, and presented himself as the “continuity” candidate to succeed him. But will economic and geopolitical pressures force Suga to chart a different course from his former patron?
In this Big Picture, Daniel Gros of the Centre for European Policy Studies argues that Abe’s economic program (dubbed “Abenomics”) accomplished little overall and thus offers a cautionary tale for Europe and other aging rich countries. Keio University’s Akira Kawamoto concurs, and urges Suga

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The Debt Pandemic

September 11, 2020

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Although sovereign-bond markets remain sanguine about advanced economies’ massive pandemic-related fiscal stimulus programs, much of the accumulated debt will inevitably be passed on to future generations. Given the numerous other risks to long-term growth, how can today’s policymakers best manage the debt burden?
In this Big Picture, Modern Monetary Theory advocate Stephanie Kelton argues that no one should, because government spending in the United States is only ever constrained by the amount of real resources in the economy. But the University of Chicago’s Raghuram G. Rajan warns that

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Farewell, Big City?

September 4, 2020

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Large urban areas have defied existential threats many times before, and current pandemic-fueled predictions of their demise also may turn out to be exaggerated. But COVID-19 will likely prompt many knowledge workers to reconsider where they live, work, and play – with potentially significant consequences for both cities and the global economy.
In this Big Picture, Edoardo Campanella of IE University in Madrid thinks a permanent shift to remote working could induce skilled workers to leave rich urban areas for smaller and mid-size towns, thus reducing regional economic disparities. But the

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The World After Trump vs. Biden

August 28, 2020

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With US voters deeply polarized and the world facing a mounting array of shared threats, the presidential election on November 3 is arguably the most globally consequential ever. At stake is not only whether the international system could withstand four more years of President Donald Trump, but also whether his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, could regain the world’s trust if he won.
In this Big Picture, former German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel fears that Trump’s re-election would endanger both America and the world, while a prolonged US political crisis triggered by a disputed result

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Dollar Bets

August 21, 2020

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Not for the first time, a sharp depreciation of the US dollar has prompted predictions of its demise as the world’s pre-eminent store of value and means of payment. With America currently beset by a still-rampant pandemic, a worsening economic outlook, and incompetent leadership, might the dollar bears finally be right?
In this Big Picture, Yale University’s Stephen S. Roach thinks the dollar’s recent drop marks the start of a long-overdue decline, while the European Union’s approval in July of a €750 billion ($893 billion) recovery fund will likely hasten the euro’s rise. And the prospect of

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Belarus Reborn?

August 14, 2020

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Since claiming an overwhelming victory in a presidential election that lacked any semblance of credibility, Alexander Lukashenko, the former Soviet collective farm manager who has ruled Belarus with an iron fist since 1994, has lost whatever remaining legitimacy he may have had. But he has already shown an increasingly hostile and mobilized public the he won’t go without a fight.
In this Big Picture, Mitchell Orenstein and Valery Yakubovych of the University of Pennsylvania highlight the remarkable candidacy of Sviatlana Tsikhanovskaya, an English teacher thrust into the role of challenging

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Onward, Big Tech Soldiers?

August 7, 2020

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The wildly popular social-media platform TikTok is the latest Chinese-owned technology company to be targeted by US President Donald Trump over national-security and privacy concerns. Whether founded or not, the technological basis of geopolitical competition means that such fears extend well beyond the Trump administration.
In this Big Picture, former Google and Alphabet Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt and Graham Allison of Harvard University say that even if artificial intelligence and other cutting-edge technologies imply a zero-sum competition between the United States and China,

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The Big Slump

July 31, 2020

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The US economy shrank at a record-high 32.9% annual rate in April-June, as the COVID-19 pandemic caused major declines in consumer spending, exports, and business investment. With infections continuing to surge alarmingly in some western and southern states, how long can the stock market put on a happy face?
In this Big Picture, Chatham House’s Jim O’Neill argues that many key short-term macroeconomic indicators still point to a V-shaped recovery, provided that major economies are not forced to shut down again. Yale University’s Robert J. Shiller, meanwhile, says investors’ crowd psychology,

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Europe Steps Up

July 24, 2020

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In July 2012, then-European Central Bank President Mario Draghi helped to prevent the eurozone from collapsing by vowing that the ECB would do “whatever it takes” to save the beleaguered single currency. Eight years on, will European leaders’ agreement on a new COVID-19 rescue fund, Next Generation EU, turn out to be equally consequential?
In this Big Picture, Yale University’s Stephen S. Roach argues that the EU’s approval of the joint recovery package is a pivotal moment in solidifying the bloc and will likely accelerate the euro’s rise and intensify downward pressure on an overvalued US

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The Biden Effect

July 17, 2020

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Under President Donald Trump, the United States has become openly hostile toward NATO and alliances in general, and is increasingly focusing on China and the rest of Asia. How might a victory for Trump’s presumptive Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, in November’s election affect Europe and the rules-based international system?
In this Big Picture, former Spanish foreign minister Ana Palacio fears for NATO’s future and expects the US drift away from the Alliance to continue regardless of the outcome in November. For that reason, says former German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel, renewing the

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Big Tech’s Big Test

July 10, 2020

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Digital technology’s strengths and weaknesses have been on full display during the pandemic, with the unprecedented shift to online work, education, and shopping being accompanied by a sharp increase in cyberattacks. How can policymakers best mitigate threats to the integrity of the Internet while encouraging innovation and expansion of the digital economy?
In this Big Picture, Michael Chertoff, Latha Reddy, and Alexander Klimburg of the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace urge governments to adopt new global norms prohibiting attacks on Internet infrastructure.

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