THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING SUMMIT — The Bush administration’s announcement of an emergency financial summit on Nov. 15 in Washington ruffled some international feathers, notably in Spain and France, but in other countries as well. The meeting of global leaders to address the current crisis and bring a measure of control to the unruly financial world was originally proposed last week by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. He pushed for the United Nations as the venue, and encouraged the widest possible participation. That’s not what the White House announced Wednesday. To the more or less private annoyance of the French, the White […]

AMMAN, Jordan — Little more than six months ago, the government of Jordan broke some most unwelcome news to the population. As oil-rich neighbors nearby basked in fantastic wealth from seemingly unstoppable jumps in oil prices, importers such as Jordan could barely cope. The government in Amman decided it could no longer afford oil subsidies. Almost overnight, fuel prices took off, some rising more than 75 percent. Before long, the cost of food followed suit, with some staples quickly doubling in price. The shock has not quite worn off, but suddenly things are changing. Now that oil prices have rediscovered […]

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, it is widely accepted, has had a good credit crunch. A couple of months ago, just a year after taking over from the charismatic Tony Blair, Brown was virtually dead in the water. His support, it seemed, did not extend much beyond his own family. The only question was whether he could survive until Christmas. Last weekend, the opinion polls confirmed in public what the opposition Conservative Party had already conceded in private: Brown had dramatically returned from the dead. He was still trailing in the polls, but his opponent’s seemingly unassailable 20 percent lead […]

The uncertainty that characterizes the current global financial crisis extends beyond the markets, and its drama beyond the erratic moves of securities prices. When the dust settles after this economic storm, power relations will also have changed. One of the great unknowns — and one that will mark the character of the post-crisis era — is whether the new Russia will emerge from the crisis fortified or weakened. To hear Russia’s current prime minister and still-strongman, Vladimir Putin, tell it, this dire predicament is a well-deserved rebuke of American power. Speaking to Communist Party members of the Russian Parliament, a […]

LIMA, Peru — Earlier this month, lawmakers in the United States passed a bill that would renew trade preferences to four countries in South America. The Andean Trade Preferences Act was signed in 1991 and eliminated tariffs on a host of exports from Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru in an effort to bolster economic development in the region and offer alternatives to drug trafficking. The latest renewal was set to expire at the end of this year. U.S. President George W. Bush is expected to sign the bill, despite having requested last month that Bolivia’s beneficiary status be suspended, citing […]

CONFRONTING THE CRISIS — An EU financial doctrine and a new set of EU regulations for executive compensation in the banking and financial sector have emerged out of the financial chaos of the last week, French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said in Washington on Friday. The new doctrine says EU governments will protect their financial institutions, safeguard the taxpayers’ interests, put in motion a reform of the financial sector, guarantee bank deposits, and take a short term stake in financial institutions to help their recovery. The European Union’s 27 member states will apply the financial doctrine according to their needs […]

Last week, when the financial system threatened to unravel in the United States, European Union leaders called an emergency summit to devise a common approach to the crisis. In Washington, unseemly bickering between political parties had already defeated one attempt to pass a $700 billion rescue package. The American political and economic system looked seriously wounded. This might have marked the moment for a unified Europe, viewed by many as a counter-balance to the U.S., to act decisively and effectively in a time of peril. As it happened, however, the “fraternit√©” long dreamed of by some in the EU vaporized […]

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Argentina’s four principle agricultural organizations declared a six day strike on Friday, Oct. 3. Facing the worst drought in a century and fearful of the potential for contagion from the American financial crisis, agricultural producers are demanding relief from the government, principally in the form of a reduction in export taxes. The longstanding dispute between the countryside and Buenos Aires has its roots in structural changes in the Argentinean export economy that have emerged over the past decade, with Argentinean farmers devoting increasing amounts of land to soy crops destined for the Chinese and European markets, […]