A rather small country by its size and population—65 million, less than 1 percent of total global population—France is nevertheless one of five to 10 countries that can claim to be major powers in today’s world. The French economy is, however, plagued with sluggish growth, an unemployment level now hovering around 10 percent of the active population, a budget that has been in deficit for more than three decades and a public debt that represents more than 90 percent of its GDP—with more than 60 percent of that debt held by nonresidents, as opposed to about 30 percent for the [...]
Portugal appeared to be on the brink of government collapse last week after a string of unexpected ministerial resignations. But so far, the coalition government under Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho has survived. Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said that Portugal, which has faced three years of recession and has imposed unpopular austerity measures under the terms of a European Union bailout, is more notable for its stability than its turmoil. “This recent political crisis is fundamentally driven by political positioning, not driven by people on the street saying enough is enough, and [...]
Last week, the British government announced that it would ban khat, an herbal stimulant popular in the Middle East and Africa. In an email interview, Axel Klein, a lecturer in the anthropology of conflict, criminal justice and policy at the University of Kent’s Center for Health Services Studies, explained the rationale for the ban and its likely effect on khat-consuming communities within the U.K. WPR: What was the British government’s rationale for banning khat? Axel Klein: Interestingly, the arguments for the ban were not laid out clearly. All the home secretary said in her statement was that khat had been [...]
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