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Where to Build Trump’s Wall?

CAMBRIDGE – What do Huntsville (Alabama), Princeton (Indiana), Georgetown (Kentucky), Blue Springs (Mississippi), San Antonio (Texas), Buffalo (West Virginia), and Greer (South Carolina) have in common? They are the locations where Toyota and BMW built their manufacturing plants in the United States. None is in the US Rust Belt – the tract of industrial towns stretching from Michigan to eastern Pennsylvania – where much of the car industry and its suppliers were...

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What Mandate for Theresa May?

LONDON – British Prime Minister Theresa May doesn’t exactly have a reputation for unpredictability. A cautious and disciplined politician – a vicar’s daughter, no less – May doesn’t play around with the truth, nor does she take unnecessary risks or stray beyond a comfort zone populated by a tightknit group of advisers. So when she insisted, repeatedly, that she would not hold an election before the next due date, in 2020, she was believed unreservedly. Then, last week,...

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The Many Benefits of Vitamin D

SINGAPORE – Vitamin D helps our bodies regulate levels of calcium and phosphate – nutrients that keep bones, teeth, and muscles healthy. Often, sunlight on our skin can be enough to enable us to produce all the vitamin D we need. But when sunshine is lacking, vitamin D must be ingested, and it can be difficult to meet the recommended levels from food alone. This matters because the health benefits of adequate vitamin D intake may be even greater than previously thought....

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A Grand Strategy for Donald Trump?

TOKYO – As with any human interaction, international relations, whether economic or political, is a combination of cooperation and competition. The “cooperation” part benefits all involved, whether by sustaining world peace or boosting growth and prosperity through free trade. The “competition” part creates serious risks, from economic impediments to war and environmental destruction. So why don’t countries cooperate more? The answer comes down, in part, to the...

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A Better Way from ‘R’ to ‘D’

BELLEVUE, WASHINGTON – When business leaders get together to talk about innovating their industries, they typically focus on initiatives like improving government funding for basic research, or building technology hubs and incubators. But a crucial element of “innovation” is often absent from these discussions: the final products. That’s no oversight. On the contrary, the lack of product-focused discussion is symptomatic of a far more serious problem facing businesses...

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Russia’s Neo-Feudal Capitalism

WASHINGTON, DC – Vladimir Putin’s Russia is looking more and more like the sclerotic and stagnant Soviet Union of the Leonid Brezhnev era. But in one area, Putin’s regime remains an innovator: corruption. Indeed, in this, the 18th year of Putin’s rule, a new form of crony capitalism has been taking hold. Over the last decade, Putin has overseen a major renationalization of the Russian economy. The state sector expanded from 35% of GDP in 2005 to 70% in 2015. It would...

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A World Turned Inside Out

NEW HAVEN – Slowly but surely, a bruised and battered global economy now appears to be shaking off its deep post-crisis malaise. If the International Monetary Fund’s latest forecasts are borne out – an iffy proposition, to be sure – the nearly 3.6% average annual growth in world GDP expected over the 2017-2018 period would represent a modest uptick from the 3.2% pace of the past two years. Fully a decade after the Great Financial Crisis, global growth is finally...

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Fixing Fixed-Investment Incentives

LONDON – Back in February, I noted that the global economy at the end of 2016 was in a stronger cyclical position than most people had expected, given the political upheavals of the previous 12 months. That upward momentum carried through to the first quarter of 2017. According to the latest “nowcast”-type indicators, world GDP growth is exceeding 4% – perhaps the strongest performance seen since before the 2008 financial crisis. Still, some observers – and not just...

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Trump’s Diplomatic Deficit

DENVER – Connecting the strategic dots between Afghanistan, Syria, and North Korea has become an unavoidable task. Only by doing so can the world begin to discern something resembling a coherent, if misguided, approach to US foreign policy by President Donald Trump’s administration. Start with the military strike on the airfield in Syria from which a chemical attack was launched by Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Was the barrage of Tomahawk missiles intended simply to send a...

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The Sino-American Employment Challenge

HONG KONG – Donald Trump’s rise to power in the United States involved more than a little China-bashing. Yet, with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Trump’s Florida estate earlier this month, it seems that the status quo in the bilateral relationship – crucial for global trade, growth, and stability – will be maintained. That could be very good news for Chinese and US workers alike. At the summit, Xi reiterated China’s commitment to maintaining a positive...

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