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Government Elections Technology Development Economy

To the Victors Go the Foils

Graffiti showing a ballot box
Many countries are holding elections in 2012, but governments are struggling to keep up with their peoples' expectations (Photo: david drexler/flickr)

NEW YORK – A surprising number of elections and political transitions is scheduled to occur over the coming months. An incomplete list includes Russia, China, France, the United States, Egypt, Mexico, and South Korea.

At first glance, these countries have little in common. Some are well-established democracies; some are authoritarian systems; and others are somewhere in between. Yet, for all of their differences, these governments – and the individuals who will lead them – face many of the same challenges. Three stand out.

The first is that no country is entirely its own master. In today’s world, no country enjoys total autonomy or independence. To one degree or another, all depend on access to foreign markets to sell their manufactured goods, agricultural products, resources, or services – or to supply them. None can eliminate economic competition with others over access to third-country markets. Many countries require capital inflows to finance investment or official debt. Global supply and demand largely set oil and gas prices. Economic interdependence and the vulnerability associated with it is an inescapable fact of contemporary life.

Categories
Finance

The Great Recession: Sliding Out of Memory?

World economy cracked beyond repair? Photo: Jack Keene/flickr

As Asian economies keep posting positive growth numbers with the momentum for a full recovery shifting irreversibly to the East, and as banker’s bonuses and Wall Street profits return to pre-2007 days, the temptation to look away from the root causes of the global financial crisis is as great as ever. But has the chance to learn a valuable lesson really just been lost in the face of a fragile recovery?

Some resources from our Digital Library to help you answer this key question:

Categories
International Relations

Saving the World, Ruling the Earth?

China: Where modernity is a mantra, photo: Trey Ratcliff/flickr

China’s rise to the center stage of world affairs has been much faster and more multifaceted than anyone expected.

The Chinese themselves seem to have been taken aback by their new-found might, and although prophesies about China’s future dominance should be taken with a whole spoonful of salt (a lot can still go wrong), a deep confidence is permeating the country. And it seems like the rest of the world is finally taking note.

I wrote a short piece in October 2008 for the Finnish Business and Policy Council (EVA) about what I thought would be the geopolitical ramifications of the financial crisis, in its very early stages at the time. America, as the epicenter of the crisis, was shocked into a state of socio-political and economic self-denial and panic that was given tangible expression in last week’s midterm elections. In many of the individual races the anger and vitriol was directed at the great ‘new’ menace- China. In the meantime a real and perceived shift to the East has taken place. It is only beginning to take shape, but its effects are already being felt.

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Uncategorized

The Power of Photography: Rapid Growth has a Price

Screenshot of New York Times 'Lens' blog
Screenshot of New York Times 'Lens' blog

Words do little to convey the kind of destruction unfettered growth has caused in China. Stories of environmental degradation and displacement are common but fail to show the true, human impact of China’s rise.

Contrastingly, spectacular examples of China’s positive ambition are everywhere; in the mushrooming modern mega-cities as well as events such as the annual Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival; a whimsical Disney-like world made entirely of ice, snow and millions upon millions of Christmas lights. A tourist trap perhaps, but also a testament to the innovative and hopeful spirit of the country.

The following photo essays provide insights into the strange world of China’s yin and yang.