The Economist offers a glimpse at “Start-Up Chile”, a programme that entices foreign entrepreneurs to bring their ideas to Chile. Can Chile become the “Singapore of Latin America”? Maybe. It is a story worth following.
Archive for the ‘Globalization’ Category
A good article in NYT by Steve Inskeep about the recent mob violence in Karachi, Pakistan.
I used to post about Afghanistan. That was back when there was still some hope for a decent result from the US intervention. But that was quite some time ago. These days, it is more and more clear that the likely result will be messy.
One might wonder where things went wrong, and Rajiv Chandrasekaran does so in his new book “Little America“, reviewed in NYT today. It is a sad story. And reading the reviews on the Amazon page (get there via the link from the book title above) it seems that Rajiv tells the story rather well. BTW, at least some of these reviews are by people who were there at the same time.
Or instead of getting bogged down in finger pointing, one might just move on to ask, what’s next? Some argue that the next chapter of the Afghan story will play out in battles over control of the flow of revenue from mineral extraction.
Perhaps. But no matter what, despite all the Bush era bravado and expenditures, and the Obama surge, we are not likely to see a western style democracy in Afghanistan or strong dedication to the “rule of law”. Depending on the amount of wealth in the ground, we are more likely to see a Saudi style concentration of power gained and sustained by a combination of coercion and revenue sharing for insiders.
Hmmm … will the taliban prove to be shrewd negotiators in this type of game? Time will tell.
FOLLOW - Remember the Iraq war? Remember the heated debate about which US official was responsible for disbanding the Iraqi army that led to the dreadful insurgency? Right. I don’t either.
This quote from NYT caught my eye today
Analysts said Syria’s fleet of Mi-25 Hind-D attack helicopters, which numbered 36 at the start of the conflict, is insufficient to hold back rebels as the number of fronts, from Aleppo and Idlib in the north to the suburbs of Damascus in the south and Hama and Homs in the center of the country, continues to proliferate.
Assad has several problems here. First, defectors are handing over sophisticated weapons to the other side (like tanks) and these are now being used against the Assad military. Second, loyalists are having difficulty keeping helicopters in the air. This may get more difficult and further reduce Assad’s air power. Third, there is a growing threat that dissident forces may acquire more sophisticated surface to air weapons.
Bottom line - the tide may be turning.
I was fascinated by what WSJ had to say about GoogleEDU, Google’s 2 year old learning and leadership development program. It represents a significant investment in people, and I suspect pays off.
You might compare that to BBC’s report on what is happening to Russian entrepreneurs. They are getting an education of a very different type.
My question — what long term impacts will these differences have? Let’s see.
The phrase “constitutional obscenity” was used by a US law professor to describe the maneuvering that disenfranchised the first elected parliament in Egypt. So what is going on?
The situation in Egypt is not simple. Nor does it appear to be very stable. The rallying cry for freedom that brought people into the streets and brought down Mr. Mubarak was stunning in its emotional energy. But cooler heads are now at work to sort out where power will lie. The military has made an alliance with the Constitutional Court in order to assert control of the transition process. Why? To insure that the Muslim Brotherhood does not control that transition process. And what would be wrong with that? Well, the conventional wisdom is that the Muslim Brotherhood would use its newly won political power to build a religious rather than a secular state. True or not, the Muslim Brotherhood has certain political assets. It has the presidency and purports to represent the popular will.
As NYT reports, one can understand the reluctance of the military/judicial power to allow constitution writing to proceed in this atmosphere. They want to slow things down. At the same time, they have a credibility problem. Whatever the military may say, they also appear to be trying to protect the privileges that Mr. Mubarak lavished on them to keep his grip on power. And these privileges are a sore spot for the public. The military’s credibility problem suggests that they need another political voice to lead the way for them. If they thought that such a voice would emerge from the parliamentary elections, they were disappointed. Ooops.
One wonders what is most important to the Egyptian people. We have seen already that they urgently want freedom. It is likely that the people would re-appear in the streets to protect what they have gained so far. The most likely foe would be the military that appears to be in the way. So can the military find a way to persuade the people that the threat from the Muslim Brotherhood is real? Well, let’s see.
And what are the real motives of those calling the shots within the Muslim Brotherhood? Is it their aim to bring about democracy or theocrcy? How secure is their hold on popular support? Stay tuned.
One of the more interesting markets that I track these days is the market for food products. By “food products” I don’t mean trying to figure out how many pizza’s we will eat next month, or what fancy restaurants are opening in New York (as an aside, I just read that the new Nomad is a real thrill). I mean this in a broader sense. What types of demand and supply trends are driving the market globally.
In the US one sees two apparently conflicting trends. One is the tendency towards obesity. It is frightening. Obviously, something not so good is happening in the American diet. Another is the demand for more knowledge about what is healthy. This is hopeful. Not only is there more research about how diet affects our health, this research is getting more media play.
And example - Mark Bittman used to do a cooking column for the NYT with nice videos on how to make stuff. He now writes a column on food health. Most recently he gives an update on the good news across the US about food health awareness. Among a lot of other tidbits, he refers to a recent study that challenges our understanding of the health effects of using salt - a study that I had seen profiled in other media. Good sign.
Another example - new efforts to study possible links between farm animal welfare and food safety. If links come out (and if Marcos Rostagno is right, they will) we are likely to see more demand for non-factory farmed food products. Animal welfare is not just about how animals are killed, but about their entire life cycle. Perhaps we will see new health designations for animal food products (not just organic).
A third example - how much water is needed to make a hamburger? Well, in the old days i would have wondered. Now it is in the media (from FC)
The USGS estimates that it takes 4,000 to 18,000 gallons of water to produce a juicy hamburger, depending on conditions that cows are raised in. The water doesn’t go directly into your burger; rather, it is used to feed, hydrate, and service cows.
That is a hell of a lot of water — and yes, people are starting to become more aware of the value of water too.
Tom Friedman can be a bit pompous, but he also is a pretty good writer. And today he has written the sort of piece he is best at — asking a very big question in plain language that anyone can understand.
He may be stretching things a bit when he says
… Turkey has become one of the best places to observe (Europe and the Middle East coming apart at the seams). To the west, you see the European Monetary Union buckling under the weight of its own hubris — leaders who reached too far in forging a common currency without the common governance to sustain it. And, to the south, you see the Arab League crumbling under the weight of its own decay — leaders who never reached at all for the decent governance and modern education required to thrive in the age of globalization.
The European project is in danger, but Europeans at least have policy options that could make things work — if they choose to use them. The Middle East faces much larger challenges. Ok, this may be a quibble.
But the part that got my attention is about the US — it should be well suited to cope with the changes that are buffeting the world. But … alas things could be better.
Frank Jacobs offers a nice synopsis of the controversial idea of Austrian thinker Leopold Kohr. As an Estonian, I am sympathetic to the core … excuse the pun … idea. Smaller states that have a long historical sense of internal cohesion tend to govern themselves better than larger unwieldy ones.
Justin E.H. Smith offers a few controversial ideas about the study of non-western philosophy in western universities. This is not just for professional philosophers. One of his main points is that
It is no secret that the center (of economic activity and hence intellectual production) is shifting once again, this time toward the Pacific. A bit of historical perspective makes it easy to see that this shift will have consequences for our understanding of what philosophy is, and of who gets to define the set of questions with which it is concerned.
And perhaps not just philosophy.