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Big Tech Reckoning

5 days ago

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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?

12 days ago

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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

19 days ago

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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?

26 days ago

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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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The United States Blues

July 3, 2020

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Four months before a critical election, the United States finds itself facing multiple crises – a seemingly out-of-control pandemic, a deep economic recession, rampant inequality, and a popular reckoning with racism – with a polarizing and unpopular president at the helm. Can policymakers mount the bold response needed to return the US to a position of global leadership, or is America’s strategic decline now inevitable?
In this Big Picture, New York University’s Nouriel Roubini views the ongoing protests in many American cities partly as a revolt by a growing “precariat” of alienated,

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The Gendered Pandemic

June 26, 2020

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Governments simultaneously trying to address the public-health and economic shocks caused by COVID-19 risk overlooking the immediate effects of the crisis on women and girls. How can policymakers mitigate these threats and foster longer-term progress toward gender parity?
In this Big Picture, Swedish foreign minister Ann Linde and her Spanish counterpart, Arancha González, argue that measures to tackle the COVID-19 crisis must address increasing risks to women and girls in the home, the health-care sector, and the labor market. Princeton University’s Beth English and Kelly Pike of York

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Who Can Check China?

June 19, 2020

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From Hong Kong to the Himalayas, China under President Xi Jinping appears increasingly willing to assert its strategic interests forcefully, with seemingly little concern for the possible economic and diplomatic consequences. How should other leading powers, preoccupied with the COVID-19 crisis and other issues, respond to Xi’s increasingly provocative behavior?
In this Big Picture, Javier Solana and Óscar Fernández of EsadeGeo urge both China and the United States to avoid needlessly hostile rhetoric, warning that increasing talk of a looming Sino-American confrontation risks becoming a

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The Great Divergence?

June 12, 2020

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Besides being the biggest global public-health crisis in a century, the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a rethink of existing economic growth models. Which major economies will make the structural shifts needed to ensure future prosperity, and which will persist with the status quo?
In this Big Picture, the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Jules Kortenhorst says that Europe and China will be the big winners, and contrasts their investments in competitive clean-energy sectors with America’s continued support for older, carbon-intensive industries. But like it or not, says Dalia Marin of the

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America Boils Over

June 5, 2020

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George Floyd’s death at the hands of a white police officer has triggered protests across the United States and laid bare the country’s racial, economic, and political divisions. How, if at all, might America heal – and does history offer any guide?
In this Big Picture, Harvard’s Khalil Gibran Muhammad traces today’s crisis to the United States’ founding and argues that overcoming it will require fundamental political and economic reforms. Above all, elected US officials should put racial justice at the center of their vision for a new America.
Focusing on America’s long-standing problem of

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China’s Hong Kong Gamble

May 29, 2020

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By ordering China’s rubber-stamp parliament to draft a strict new security law for Hong Kong, President Xi Jinping’s regime has struck its heaviest blow yet against the city, effectively overturning the “one country, two systems” principle that has prevailed since the territory returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. But will China pay a price for its aggressive gambit?
In this Big Picture, Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong, argues that the West has a vital stake in the ongoing struggle in the city, and that liberal democracies must stand up for themselves if governance

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Deglobalization’s Dangers

May 22, 2020

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The COVID-19 pandemic has fueled growing calls from political leaders in rich countries for an overhaul of global production and trade. But reshoring and protectionism are unlikely to be a panacea for a depressed and disrupted world economy.
In this Big Picture, Harvard’s Dani Rodrik is optimistic, noting that although the retreat from hyper-globalism could potentially endanger human prosperity, it could also result in a more sensible, less intrusive model that focuses on areas where international cooperation truly pays off. Richard N. Haass of the Council on Foreign Relations hopes so,

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The Euro’s German Question

May 15, 2020

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The German Federal Constitutional Court’s recent ruling against the European Central Bank shocked many observers and could have far-reaching implications for the eurozone. What are the likely consequences of the court’s assertion of authority, and how should the ECB and the European Union respond?
In this Big Picture, Columbia University’s Willem H. Buiter says that the court’s ruling threatens to hamper the ECB’s efforts to assist distressed eurozone member states and could cause one or more countries to crash out of the monetary union. Katharina Pistor of Columbia Law School goes further,

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