Two recent stories out of New York tell a lot about what’s going on in the U.S. economy. They also force us to examine whether we are going to do something about it or instead whether we will just sit around and have the same stupid, divisive arguments that we usually do. Continue Reading
Over the years three Ms have sold us on the idea that diamonds are a girl’s best friend: Marilyn, Madonna and marketing. They’ve done a masterful job and as a result, men of all socioeconomic classes accept that if they like a lady — as in, really like a lady — then they’d better put a ring on it. Continue Reading
Have you ever met a parent who doesn’t want what’s best for their child, or who doesn’t care whether that child’s life will be better than their own? Probably not. So why are we so blasé about the fact that today’s young people are so much worse off than they ought to be? Continue Reading
Ok, I exaggerate. But that’s my cynical first impression after finding the following diagram in the briefing book for the gathering of the good and the great at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. (Click for a larger size.)
As you can see “Severe income disparity” is #1 on the Top 5 risks list this year, after having failed to make the short list for the preceding 5 years.
Now it’s not as though the attendees of Davos were completely inattentive to the economic plight of the less fortunate all this time. Continue Reading
It’s hard to believe, but it’s been almost a year since the start of the Arab Spring. This tsunami of popular revolt removed, among others, the longest serving modern leader of one of our cornerstone civilizations. Who dares to claim that any country is wholly immune to such an uprising?And it’s still rolling on as Egyptians take to the streets to keep the military from hijacking the people’s revolution. Tunisia looks to be on a firmer footing, while the full outcome of Gaddafi’s ouster in Libya is not yet apparent. The outbursts of popular discontent in Bahrain, Jordan, Yemen, Syria, Saudi Arabia remain unresolved.
Christine Lagarde, the head of the IMF, has a tendency to voice inconvenient truths. (Her recent comments on another topic invited a not-so-subtle suggestion to sit down and shut up.) Here’s her view on the spark that lit the Arab Spring:
“[While] top-line economic numbers—on growth, for example—often looked good, too many people were being left out.”
She also concedes the extent to which the Very Serious People at the IMF, and everywhere else, were caught off-guard:
“[...] we did not fully anticipate the consequences of unequal access to opportunities. Let me be frank: we were not paying enough attention to how the fruits of economic growth were being shared.”
Will leaders of other seemingly invincible countries take this lesson to heart in 2012?