Friday, 21 November 2008

Obama New Deal

Good article from a Cambridge Professor comparing and contrasting the situations inherited by FDR and Obama.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

And a bottle of rum...

Pirates going for the big time:

Mercenary action:

Send us your rum and women!:

Is this nuts to anyone else? Some random (and admittedly not well formed) thoughts:

1) Naval officials the world over must be scrambling to redefine their doctrines to counter this threat
2) Goodbye nation-state, hello globalisation of security - Pirates operating out of a failed state, state-run navies helpless to intervene, and companies hiring mercenaries
3) What will this do to insurance rates on international shipping? And what will that do to world trade?
4) If this continues, can someone say 'military intervention in Africa'?
5) Piracy is widely supported by the African populace - they see only benefit and poetic justice from it. How might this relate to failed states that spawn terrorists?

Lots of Wonks...

Does Obama's new cabinet seem very tilted towards current or former congressmen to anyone besides me?

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Auto Bailout?

Should the US government bail out US automakers?

Is the 21st Century Russia's Century?

The conventional wisdom says that the 20th century was America's century, while the 21st will belong to China, or perhaps India. To put forward a provocative thought, what if the 21st century sees a resurgence in Russian influence and way of doing things? Recent events make this more likely:

1) The financial crisis has precipitated the weakening of free market principles that formed the basis of the Western model of organising economies
2) Russia's variety of state supported capitalism has done better than some economies in dealing with the crisis, though it's still been hurt. Other countries are moving in the direction of this model.
3) The Russia natural resource base is huge and largely untapped, which will be an advantage as commodity prices remain generally high
4) Russia has great military power and has the will to use it (see: Georgia)
5) Russia has an expanding sphere of influence in China, Central Asia, and Europe since they control many vital energy transits and economic interests in those regions

Will this next century be Russia's? It is, of course, never that simple, but a case can be made that Russia will be a much bigger player in world politics in the next 100 years than their struggles in the last 20 years would seem to indicate.

Monday, 10 November 2008

What Clean Tech Boom?

Lots of people have been promoting a "Clean Tech Boom," likening it to the "Tech Boom" of the '90s. In his latest book, Thomas Friedman calls for investment in ET, Environmental Technology (a play on IT, Information Technology).

On the surface, it makes sense: Solve global warming while stimulating economic growth. Clean Tech is obviously an underdeveloped industry thanks to historically cheap fuel. While traditional, labor-intensive industry continues its migration off-shore, ET can thrive given western strengths of research and innovation.

But there is a HUGE difference between the IT boom and the proposed ET boom which is somehow being overlooked (despite being front page news): access to capital.

The IT boom was financed in the private sector by historic levels of liquidity. Will companies be able to invest in the R&D needed for a Clean Tech boom if banks aren't lending? Can governments drive a Clean Tech boom though other policy mechanisms?

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Election Results

Now that the American people have elected Barack Obama to be the 44th President of the United States, does this change how you perceive the United States?

It seems like this guy thinks so...