Economics and Business Articles

The Realist Prism

On Iran and Russia, Obama Gambling for More Time

By Nikolas Gvosdev
, , Column

Though it is axiomatic that almost any foreign policy action taken by President Barack Obama will be reflexively criticized by the Republican opposition, in recent months congressional Democrats have been more willing to publicly voice critiques of the president’s performance. But Obama appears to be willing to swallow his pride and suffer domestic political attacks if it buys him time and maneuvering room.

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Japan Deepens Ties With Central Asia, but Still Trails Russia, China

By J. Berkshire Miller
, , Briefing

Last week, Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida met with his Central Asian counterparts in Bishkek as part of the fifth Central Asia Plus Japan Dialogue. Initiated in 2004, the dialogue has served as the foundation for recent ties between Tokyo and Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. This year’s meeting focused on economic cooperation and potential security collaboration. more

Global Insights

Putin’s South American Trip Hides Russia’s Strategic Weaknesses

By Richard Weitz
, , Column

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to South America this month garnered considerable attention. In the U.S., some saw the trip as a tit-for-tat display of influence in Washington’s strategic backyard. However, it is best to keep Moscow’s machinations in perspective. Russia is presenting a number of challenges to important U.S. global interests, but its activities in South America are not among them. more

Global Insider

Argentina Looking to Cement Its Role as Nuclear Power

By The Editors
, , Trend Lines

Argentina signed a nuclear energy deal with Russia last week, the latest step in Argentina’s push to expand its nuclear industry. Irma Arguello, chair of the NPSGlobal Foundation, discussed Argentina’s nuclear energy policy in an email interview. more

Despite U.S. Efforts, Root Causes of Migration Crisis Prevail in Central America

By Michael Allison
, , Briefing

The United States, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador are frantically trying to address the humanitarian crisis unfolding on both the U.S. border and in Central America. They have pursued several initiatives to combat violence, strengthen democracy and promote economic opportunity, to stem the sudden increase of young migrants heading north. But such efforts have not delivered their intended benefits. more

In Latin America Tour, China’s Xi Shows Maturing Approach to Region

By Margaret Myers
, , Briefing

On July 14, Xi Jinping began his second official visit to Latin America as president of China. The visit corresponds with a new phase in China-Latin America relations. It is one that is still largely based on China’s interests in the region’s raw materials and markets, and in which Beijing retains the upper hand. But as China expands its global presence, its relationships have also matured considerably. more

China's Post-Mao Generation Still a Political Wild Card

By Teresa Wright
, , Feature

In some respects, the political attitudes and behavior of China’s post-Mao generation diverge from those of their predecessors. They are more skeptical about China’s current political system, more supportive of liberal democratic ideals and more likely to engage in contentious collective actions. Yet in many other ways, their attitudes and behavior parallel those of older Chinese: They generally accept, and to a surprising degree even support, the political status quo led by the Chinese Communist Party. more

Climate Change Driving Farmer-Herder Conflict in Niger River Basin

By Owen McAleer
, , Briefing

West Africa’s Niger River Basin has been the location of many high-profile conflicts in recent years. However, another form of conflict has also gripped the region: violence between farmers and herders. The two have long coexisted through traditional social arrangements for land and water use. But mounting environmental stress and institutional confusion have strained these ties and sparked violence. more

Symbiotic Germany-China Relations Risk Becoming Dependency

By Maria Savel
, , Trend Lines

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was in China last week, her seventh official trip to China since she took office in 2005, underscoring the growing importance of Berlin’s special relationship with Beijing. All signs indicate that symbiotic Germany-China relations will continue. However, Germany seems aware of potential cracks in their relationship—from human rights concerns to the risk of economic dependency. more

The Realist Prism

As Ukraine Looks West, EU Seeks Russia Accommodation

By Nikolas Gvosdev
, , Column

After the Cold War, there was a sense of optimism that the Euro-Atlantic community could be expanded at little risk and without significant cost. Western policymakers did not consider the possibility of a Russia both hostile to Western expansion and with the strength to stymie it. Now the Ukraine end game is challenging assumptions of European security that have guided policymakers for the past two decades. more

The Pentagon’s New Idea for Streamlining Defense Spending

By Eric Auner
, , Trend Lines

The high cost of major military programs is a source of headaches as the Obama administration struggles to balance the books. Successive administrations and Congresses have tackled the ways in which the U.S. military buys things, often with little effect. Yesterday the Pentagon made the case to Congress for a different approach: empowering the people who actually purchase weapons and equipment for the military. more

What Western Ukraine Stands to Gain From EU Association Agreement

By David Klion
, , Trend Lines

Last month, Ukraine’s newly elected President Petro Poroshenko signed an association agreement with the European Union. While EU integration has long been unpopular in Ukraine’s contested east and in the Russian-annexed Crimea, the mood in the west is far more enthusiastic. On top of existing cultural connections, western Ukraine has much to gain from the association agreement’s promised reduction of tariffs. more

Global Insider

Why Carbon Taxes, Despite Their Effectiveness, Have Hit Roadblocks

By The Editors
, , Trend Lines

Australia's new senate is working to repeal the country's unpopular carbon tax. In an email interview, Shi-Ling Hsu, the Larson Professor of Law at the Florida State University College of Law and author of “The Case for a Carbon Tax: Getting Past our Hang-ups to Effective Climate Policy,” discussed the role of carbon taxes in national climate change policies. more

Heavily Invested, China Cannot Escape the Iraq Powder Keg

By Emanuele Scimia
, , Briefing

Like it did with the crisis in Ukraine, China is trying to keep out of the chaos in Iraq. But as Iraq’s government confronts the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, it will be hard for China to preserve a policy of noninterference. This time around, China cannot keep out of another sovereign nation’s internal affairs—until now a cornerstone of its diplomacy—given Beijing’s huge economic interests in Iraq. more

India’s Latest IAEA Deal Too Little, Too Late to Undo NPT Damage

By Miles A. Pomper
, , Briefing

India’s ratification of an additional protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency is the country’s latest step to implement a controversial nuclear cooperation agreement reached with the U.S. in 2008. But the pact has yet to produce the promised economic benefits for the two countries. And its strategic benefits have been decidedly mixed, including striking a significant blow to nonproliferation. more

World Citizen

In Venezuela, Party Divisions Are Maduro’s Greatest Challenge Yet

By Frida Ghitis
, , Column

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has struggled from the moment his mentor, Hugo Chavez, named him as his successor. Maduro faced countless crises: an economy circling the drain, crime rates skyrocketing and huge opposition protests. In recent weeks, the most dangerous of all Maduro’s problems has emerged: a fracturing of support among Chavista loyalists. If Maduro loses his party, he will lose power. more

Moldova’s EU Association Agreement Is No Panacea

By David Klion
, , Trend Lines

While the crisis in eastern Ukraine continues to make headlines, far less attention has been paid to Moldova, which signed an association agreement with the European Union last week. Its breakaway region of Transnistria, sustained by Russian troops, has undermined Moldova’s efforts to integrate with Europe, and the chaos in Ukraine illustrates the potential dangers Moldova could face going forward. more

The Evolving Role of Multilateral and Subregional Development Banks

By Johannes F. Linn
, , Feature

Multilateral development banks (MDBs) have long played an important role in international development finance. Subregional development banks (SRDBs) have had a more limited function, until the emergence of a few dynamic institutions in recent years. This paper explores the origins of MDBs and SRDBs; considers key issues and trends in their purpose, governance and financing; and explores challenges and opportunities that MDBs and SRDBs face in a changing global development environment. more

The Continued Relevance of Informal Finance in Development

By Hans Dieter Seibel
, , Feature

What is informal finance, and does it still have a place in today’s economies? Formal finance is regulated and supervised by the central bank or another financial authority; informal finance is not. Access to banks has increased tremendously over the past few decades, but half the world’s adults still lack access to formal financial institutions. With the expansion of the money economy, informal financial institutions have not lost their vigor. To the contrary, they have multiplied in number and diversity. more

Myths and Realities of the Banking Lobby

By Cornelia Woll
, , Feature

The financial industry is commonly described as one of the most influential in politics. But while the financial sector certainly lobbies actively, employs skilled and well-connected people, and has created very effective organizations, it would be a mistake to overestimate the importance of lobbying activities. Despite their fervor, these strategies are neither the most important source of influence for the banking industry, nor are they always successful at defending the industry’s positions. more

Global Insights

Park’s Central Asia Tour Reaffirms South Korea’s Eurasian Vision

By Richard Weitz
, , Column

South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s high-profile six-day visit to Central Asia last week imparted further momentum to her “Eurasia initiative," intended to deepen South Korean ties with that energy-rich but geopolitically volatile region. The trip also highlighted South Korea’s value to Washington at a time when U.S. influence in the region is declining due to the ebbing U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. more