A police officer conducts a security sweep in a conference room where G-20 heads of state will gather / AP
Leaders of the Group of Twenty (G20) meet on the
French Riviera this week, but their stay on the Cote d'Azur will be
anything but relaxed. The world economy is in deep trouble again,
plagued by sovereign debt crises in Europe and the United States,
persistent global imbalances and currency misalignments, low growth and
stubborn unemployment in developed countries, and inflationary pressures
in emerging economies. A year ago at Seoul, the G20 seemed finally
poised to transition from an emergency crisis committee to a global
economic steering group. The Cannes summit finds the G20 once again at
the heart of the maelstrom, in full crisis-management mode.
The narrowed Cannes agenda reflects this reality.
When France assumed the G20's rotating presidency a year ago, President
Nicolas Sarkozy proposed a sweeping summit agenda. Paris' ambitions
included an overhaul of the international monetary system and
comprehensive "global governance reform"--including enlargement of the
UN Security Council.
But ambition has yielded to sobriety. The Cannes
action plan will focus on two main goals: bolstering the recent eurozone
agreement, to ensure that the continental crisis does not spread
worldwide; and restoring momentum behind global growth.
The Cannes summit is the sixth since November 2008,
when George W. Bush first convened a meeting of G20 leaders in the wake
of the global credit crisis. The G20's record since then has been
checkered. Its zenith was the London Summit of April 2009, which averted
a 1930s-style depression by injecting $5 trillion (AFP)
into the global economy, including a trillion dollars in new IMF
resources. But subsequent summits in Pittsburgh, Toronto, and Seoul saw
this diverse coalition of mature and emerging economies begin to fray.
With the world economy once more in crisis, the
conditions may be ripe for greater G20 solidarity. But to be considered a
success, the summit must achieve six objectives:
Dampen--and Contain--the Crisis in the Eurozone.
After months of dithering, the seventeen eurozone governments have
sought to calm global financial markets by ratifying the terms of
the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and the dimensions
of the Greek bailout. These actions are likely to have only a
temporary effect, however. The EFSF remains too small to cope with
sovereign debt crises in larger EU nations. It also does nothing to
correct a fundamental structural flaw: The eurozone is a monetary
union that leaves fiscal policy in national hands. The Cannes
summit provides U.S. President Barack Obama and other G20 leaders
an opportunity to escalate pressure (PDF)
on eurozone leaders. It also gives major surplus economies like
China and Brazil the chance to help contain a spillover of the
eurozone crisis, by using their massive capital resources to
bolster the International Monetary Fund's crisis-fighting resources.
Offer a Credible Plan for Macroeconomic Policy Coordination.
One of the biggest barriers to global growth is uncertainty about
the direction of economic policy in the world's most powerful
nations. To counter this impression of drift and disarray, summit
leaders must present a clear message on the steps they intend to
take (both individually and collectively) to advance the Framework for Strong, Sustainable, and Balanced Growth
(or Framework), which their governments endorsed in September
2009. That framework remains sound, but
follow-through--particularly on currency imbalances and sovereign
debt problems--has fallen far short. The G20 communiqué should provide
a menu of dramatic and credible policy options, based on the
reality that not all countries can export their way to growth.
Give the Mutual Assessment Process "Teeth."
At the 2009 Pittsburgh summit, G20 member states endorsed a mutual
assessment process (MAP), to evaluate the impact of member-state
policies in advancing the goals of the "Framework." Earlier this
year, G20 members agreed on indicators to assess macroeconomic
imbalances, as well as benchmarks against which such imbalances
could be measured. In theory, this marks a huge concession from
major countries like China and the United States, which have opened
themselves to external scrutiny, including by the IMF. In reality, as
former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo observes,
G20 members have weakened the MAP by "deliberately" undercutting
the fund's watchdog function. Leaders can correct this flaw in
Cannes by endorsing the IMF's ability to "name and shame" G20
members, consistent with the surveillance mandate set out in
Article 4 of the Fund's Articles of Agreement
Deliver on Promised IMF Governance Reforms. The emergence of the G20
as the premier forum for global economic coordination reflects a
tremendous and ongoing shift in global economic power from
established to emerging countries. In 1990, the advanced market members
of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
accounted for some 60 percent of world GDP. By 2025, that figure
will be 30 percent--roughly equal to the shares of China, India,
Brazil, and Russia. Most international institutions, however, have
failed to adjust their voting and governance structures
accordingly. G20 members agreed to modest shifts in IMF quota
shares and executive board seats to benefit emerging-market
economies, but implementation has lagged. At Cannes, the G20 should
provide explicit details of these adjustments and endorse a firm
timetable for implementation.
Show Commitment to Financial Regulation.
Three-and-a-half years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers nearly
brought the global financial system to its knees, G20 nations have not
kept promises to create common prudential standards for major
cross-border financial institutions. Obvious dangers include both a
reprise of the Lehman fiasco and a "race to the bottom," as
inconsistent national rules encourage regulatory arbitrage. The
G20's major institutional innovation to address such risks, the
Financial Stability Board (FSB), remains under-resourced and wildly
understaffed (with about twenty employees)--mocking U.S. Treasury
Secretary Timothy Geithner's description of the FSB--alongside the WTO, IMF, and World Bank--as the "fourth pillar" of the Bretton Woods system. At Cannes, G20 leaders should commit
to giving the FSB the tools it needs--and to expanding FSB
membership well beyond G20 countries. The G20 must also take steps to
police the world's "shadow banking system" and strengthen global
supervision of risky derivatives markets.
Revive the Global Trade Agenda.
The failure of G20 leaders to throw their collective weight behind
multilateral trade liberalization has been a huge disappointment.
To be sure, G20 nations have held the line against
beggar-thy-neighbor protectionism. But international trade remains
in crisis, with a proliferation of trade-diverting bilateral,
regional, and "mini-lateral" agreements threatening to fragment the
global economy. Over five summits, G20 leaders have repeated their
intent to complete the moribund Doha development round of trade
negotiations--and done nothing to follow up. Rather than breed
cynicism with another ritual incantation of Doha, the Cannes
communiqué should focus on two immediate concrete steps: extend
duty-free access for exports from the least developed countries,
and redouble support for trade facilitation. The G20 leaders should
also signal their determination to revitalize multilateral trade
negotiations at the upcoming WTO ministerial meeting in December.
As with all G20 (and G8) summits, the final communiqué in Cannes will
touch on a variety of other worthy issues--from promoting food security
to adopting anti-corruption measures. But its success or failure will
be judged by whether the assembled leaders take the bold steps needed to
contain financial risks, revive global growth, and adapt old
institutions to new realities.
This article originally appeared at CFR.org, an Atlantic partner site.
Forget the Common Core, Finland’s youngsters are in charge of determining what happens in the classroom.
“The changes to kindergarten make me sick,” a veteran teacher in Arkansas recently admitted to me. “Think about what you did in first grade—that’s what my 5-year-old babies are expected to do.”
The difference between first grade and kindergarten may not seem like much, but what I remember about my first-grade experience in the mid-90s doesn’t match the kindergarten she described in her email: three and a half hours of daily literacy instruction, an hour and a half of daily math instruction, 20 minutes of daily “physical activity time” (officially banned from being called “recess”) and two 56-question standardized tests in literacy and math—on the fourth week of school.
That American friend—who teaches 20 students without an aide—has fought to integrate 30 minutes of “station time” into the literacy block, which includes “blocks, science, magnetic letters, play dough with letter stamps to practice words, books, and storytelling.” But the most controversial area of her classroom isn’t the blocks nor the stamps: Rather, it’s the “house station with dolls and toy food”—items her district tried to remove last year. The implication was clear: There’s no time for play in kindergarten anymore.
A new study finds that people today who eat and exercise the same amount as people 20 years ago are still fatter.
There’s a meme aimed at Millennial catharsis called “Old Economy Steve.” It’s a series of pictures of a late-70s teenager, who presumably is now a middle-aged man, that mocks some of the messages Millennials say they hear from older generations—and shows why they’re deeply janky. Old Economy Steve graduates and gets a job right away. Old Economy Steve “worked his way through college” because tuition was $400. And so forth.
We can now add another one to that list: Old Economy Steve ate at McDonald’s almost every day, and he still somehow had a 32-inch waist.
A study published recently in the journal Obesity Research & Clinical Practice found that it’s harder for adults today to maintain the same weight as those 20 to 30 years ago did, even at the same levels of food intake and exercise.
Even in big cities like Tokyo, small children take the subway and run errands by themselves. The reason has a lot to do with group dynamics.
It’s a common sight on Japanese mass transit: Children troop through train cars, singly or in small groups, looking for seats.
They wear knee socks, polished patent-leather shoes, and plaid jumpers, with wide-brimmed hats fastened under the chin and train passes pinned to their backpacks. The kids are as young as 6 or 7, on their way to and from school, and there is nary a guardian in sight.
A popular television show called Hajimete no Otsukai, or My First Errand, features children as young as two or three being sent out to do a task for their family. As they tentatively make their way to the greengrocer or bakery, their progress is secretly filmed by a camera crew. The show has been running for more than 25 years.
Meaning comes from the pursuit of more complex things than happiness
"It is the very pursuit of happiness that thwarts happiness."
In September 1942, Viktor Frankl, a prominent Jewish psychiatrist and neurologist in Vienna, was arrested and transported to a Nazi concentration camp with his wife and parents. Three years later, when his camp was liberated, most of his family, including his pregnant wife, had perished -- but he, prisoner number 119104, had lived. In his bestselling 1946 book, Man's Search for Meaning, which he wrote in nine days about his experiences in the camps, Frankl concluded that the difference between those who had lived and those who had died came down to one thing: Meaning, an insight he came to early in life. When he was a high school student, one of his science teachers declared to the class, "Life is nothing more than a combustion process, a process of oxidation." Frankl jumped out of his chair and responded, "Sir, if this is so, then what can be the meaning of life?"
There are many Americas. There is an America of white picket fences. There is an America of towering skyscrapers. There is the America of dusty plains, cowboys, and ranches. There is an America of cliffs and beaches and sun-kissed surfers. And then there is the America just beyond these postcards, idyllic in its landscape but largely unfamiliar. It is not a land of plenty, nor opportunity, yet it is America nonetheless.
Photographer Danny Ghitis happened upon one of these regions in 2012: Dutchess County. Just a few miles north of New York City, Dutchess was once a thriving area with successful iron mining and dairy-farming industries that have long since gone. “There are small pockets of wealth exported from the big city ... and feeble attempts at small-town tourism,” Ghitis said, noting the economic divide between the western and eastern sides, the latter of which he photographed. “Mostly, the Harlem Valley exists in between the past and future.”
David Hume, the Buddha, and a search for the Eastern roots of the Western Enlightenment
In2006, i was 50—and I was falling apart.
Until then, I had always known exactly who I was: an exceptionally fortunate and happy woman, full of irrational exuberance and everyday joy.
I knew who I was professionally. When I was 16, I’d discovered cognitive science and analytic philosophy, and knew at once that I wanted the tough-minded, rigorous, intellectual life they could offer me. I’d gotten my doctorate at 25 and had gone on to become a professor of psychology and philosophy at UC Berkeley.
I knew who I was personally, too. For one thing, I liked men. I was never pretty, but the heterosexual dance of attraction and flirtation had always been an important part of my life, a background thrum that brightened and sharpened all the rest. My closest friends and colleagues had all been men.
In the name of emotional well-being, college students are increasingly demanding protection from words and ideas they don’t like. Here’s why that’s disastrous for education—and mental health.
Something strange is happening at America’s colleges and universities. A movement is arising, undirected and driven largely by students, to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense. Last December, Jeannie Suk wrote in an online article for The New Yorker about law students asking her fellow professors at Harvard not to teach rape law—or, in one case, even use the word violate (as in “that violates the law”) lest it cause students distress. In February, Laura Kipnis, a professor at Northwestern University, wrote an essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education describing a new campus politics of sexual paranoia—and was then subjected to a long investigation after students who were offended by the article and by a tweet she’d sent filed Title IX complaints against her. In June, a professor protecting himself with a pseudonym wrote an essay for Vox describing how gingerly he now has to teach. “I’m a Liberal Professor, and My Liberal Students Terrify Me,” the headline said. A number of popular comedians, including Chris Rock, have stopped performing on college campuses (see Caitlin Flanagan’s article in this month’s issue). Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Maher have publicly condemned the oversensitivity of college students, saying too many of them can’t take a joke.
For some parents, the deadline for a kid's financial independence has gotten an extension.
My 22-year-old daughter, Emma, waved goodbye to her college campus last spring and walked into a job this fall. Given the still-tepid state of the economy and all the stories—in the news and from friends—about recent graduates who can’t find work, you might well imagine that my husband and I are thrilled. And we are. Sort of.
Emma’s job is a good one, and she is lucky to have it. She is an editorial assistant at a well-respected magazine. But it is the kind of job that countless millennials are landing these days: part-time, low paying, with no benefits.
So, after we spentnearly a quarter of a million dollars on her college education, one thing has become clear: Our investment in our daughter’s future is far from over.
The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.
What is the Islamic State?
Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers. In December, The New York Times published confidential comments by Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal. “We have not defeated the idea,” he said. “We do not even understand the idea.” In the past year, President Obama has referred to the Islamic State, variously, as “not Islamic” and as al-Qaeda’s “jayvee team,” statements that reflected confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors.
What happens when a father, alarmed by his 13-year-old daughter's nightly workload, tries to do her homework for a week
Memorization, not rationalization. That is the advice of my 13-year-old daughter, Esmee, as I struggle to make sense of a paragraph of notes for an upcoming Earth Science test on minerals. “Minerals have crystal systems which are defined by the # of axis and the length of the axis that intersect the crystal faces.” That’s how the notes start, and they only get murkier after that. When I ask Esmee what this actually means, she gives me her homework credo.
Esmee is in the eighth grade at the NYC Lab Middle School for Collaborative Studies, a selective public school in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. My wife and I have noticed since she started there in February of last year that she has a lot of homework. We moved from Pacific Palisades, California, where Esmee also had a great deal of homework at Paul Revere Charter Middle School in Brentwood. I have found, at both schools, that whenever I bring up the homework issue with teachers or administrators, their response is that they are required by the state to cover a certain amount of material. There are standardized tests, and everyone—students, teachers, schools—is being evaluated on those tests. I’m not interested in the debates over teaching to the test or No Child Left Behind. What I am interested in is what my daughter is doing during those nightly hours between 8 o’clock and midnight, when she finally gets to bed. During the school week, she averages three to four hours of homework a night and six and a half hours of sleep.