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 credit hours—in a quest to cut costs, universities are simply asking students to prove their mastery of a subject.
MANCHESTER, Mich.—Had Daniella Kippnick followed in the footsteps of the hundreds of millions of students who have earned university degrees in the past millennium, she might be slumping in a lecture hall somewhere while a professor droned. But Kippnick has no course lectures. She has no courses to attend at all. No classroom, no college quad, no grades. Her university has no deadlines or tenure-track professors.
Instead, Kippnick makes her way through different subject matters on the way to a bachelor’s in accounting. When she feels she’s mastered a certain subject, she takes a test at home, where a proctor watches her from afar by monitoring her computer and watching her over a video feed. If she proves she’s competent—by getting the equivalent of a B—she passes and moves on to the next subject.
Even when a dentist kills an adored lion, and everyone is furious, there’s loftier righteousness to be had.
Now is the point in the story of Cecil the lion—amid non-stop news coverage and passionate social-media advocacy—when people get tired of hearing about Cecil the lion. Even if they hesitate to say it.
But Cecil fatigue is only going to get worse. On Friday morning, Zimbabwe’s environment minister, Oppah Muchinguri, called for the extradition of the man who killed him, the Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer. Muchinguri would like Palmer to be “held accountable for his illegal action”—paying a reported $50,000 to kill Cecil with an arrow after luring him away from protected land. And she’s far from alone in demanding accountability. This week, the Internet has served as a bastion of judgment and vigilante justice—just like usual, except that this was a perfect storm directed at a single person. It might be called an outrage singularity.
Bernie Sanders and Jeb Bush look abroad for inspiration, heralding the end of American exceptionalism.
This election cycle, two candidates have dared to touch a third rail in American politics.
Not Social Security reform. Not Medicare. Not ethanol subsidies. The shibboleth that politicians are suddenly willing to discuss is the idea that America might have something to learn from other countries.
The most notable example is Bernie Sanders, who renewed his praise for Western Europe in a recent interview with Ezra Klein. “Where is the UK? Where is France? Germany is the economic powerhouse in Europe,” Sanders said. “They provide health care to all of their people, they provide free college education to their kids.”
On ABC’s This Week in May, George Stephanopoulos asked Sanders about this sort of rhetoric. “I can hear the Republican attack ad right now: ‘He wants American to look more like Scandinavia,’” the host said. Sanders didn’t flinch:
Netflix’s revival of the ensemble cult film does far more than play on nostalgia—it’s an absurd, densely plotted prequel that never forgets to be funny.
At some point, given time, word of mouth, and endless rewatching, a cult classic evolves into a universally beloved media property. Netflix, it seems, has become the arbiter of that transformation—first and most notably by reviving the adored-but-prematurely-canceled Arrested Development for a fourth season. Now the service is continuing this effort by turning the 2001 comedy Wet Hot American Summer, a critical and commercial bomb on its release, into an eight-episode prequel miniseries. Though it all but vanished without a trace on release, Wet Hot’s shaggy, surreal charm and its cast of future stars have helped it endure over the years, and despite its bizarre positioning, the Netflix edition hasn’t missed a beat, even 14 years later.
A hawkish senator doesn't apply the lessons of Iraq
Earlier this week, Senator Lindsey Graham, a hawkish Republican from South Carolina, used a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing to stage a theatrical display of his disdain for the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran.
The most telling part of his time in the spotlight came when he pressed Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to declare who would win if the United States and Iran fought a war:
Here’s a transcript of the relevant part:
Graham: Could we win a war with Iran? Who wins the war between us and Iran? Who wins? Do you have any doubt who wins?
Carter: No. The United States.
Graham: We. Win.
Little more than a decade ago, when Senator Graham urged the invasion of Iraq, he may well have asked a general, “Could we win a war against Saddam Hussein? Who wins?” The answer would’ve been the same: “The United States.” And the U.S. did rout Hussein’s army. It drove the dictator into a hole, and he was executed by the government that the United States installed. And yet, the fact that the Iraqi government of 2002 lost the Iraq War didn’t turn out to mean that the U.S. won it. It incurred trillions in costs; thousands of dead Americans; thousands more with missing limbs and post-traumatic stress disorder and years of deployments away from spouses and children; and in the end, a broken Iraq with large swaths of its territory controlled by ISIS, a force the Iraqis cannot seem to defeat. That’s what happened last time a Lindsey Graham-backed war was waged.
The Vermont senator’s revolutionary zeal has met its moment.
There’s no way this man could be president, right? Just look at him: rumpled and scowling, bald pate topped by an entropic nimbus of white hair. Just listen to him: ranting, in his gravelly Brooklyn accent, about socialism. Socialism!
And yet here we are: In the biggest surprise of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, this thoroughly implausible man, Bernie Sanders, is a sensation.
He is drawing enormous crowds—11,000 in Phoenix, 8,000 in Dallas, 2,500 in Council Bluffs, Iowa—the largest turnout of any candidate from any party in the first-to-vote primary state. He has raised $15 million in mostly small donations, to Hillary Clinton’s $45 million—and unlike her, he did it without holding a single fundraiser. Shocking the political establishment, it is Sanders—not Martin O’Malley, the fresh-faced former two-term governor of Maryland; not Joe Biden, the sitting vice president—to whom discontented Democratic voters looking for an alternative to Clinton have turned.
Who can devise the most convoluted way to wipe out the Islamic State?
Everyone with a stake in Middle Eastern geopolitics publicly declares that ISIS must be defeated. Yet opinions range widely on how this should be achieved.
Saudi Arabia, for example, believes ISIS cannot be defeated unless Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is removed from power. Turkey has just convinced NATO nations that the war against ISIS can only be won if Turkey’s traditional Kurdish opponents are neutralized first. Israel sees only one way to defeat ISIS: destroy Iran’s nuclear program and clip its wings regionally.
So what explains these apparently contradictory aims? The cynical view would be that all these parties are less interested in defeating ISIS than in achieving their own regional goals, and that they’re only pretending to be concerned about wiping out the group. Clearly, however, there is no place for cynicism in Middle Eastern politics. Everyone involved in the region is known to be sincere, albeit in radically different ways.
An alpenhorn performance in Switzerland, a portrait of Vladimir Putin made of spent ammunition from Ukraine, Prince Charles surprised by an eagle, wildfire in California, a sunset in Crimea, and much more.
An alpenhorn performance in Switzerland, a portrait of Vladimir Putin made of spent ammunition from Ukraine, fireworks in North Korea, Prince Charles surprised by an eagle, wildfire in California, protests in the Philippines and Turkey, a sunset in Crimea, and much more.
The IOC’s selection of Beijing as the host of its 2022 games is met with a lukewarm response.
When the International Olympic Committee selected Beijing on Friday as the host for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, the Chinese capital became the first city to have hosted both the Summer and Winter games. This, most likely, isn’t coincidental: Beijing’s hosting of the Summer games in 2008 was generally considered a success, and Almaty, the Kazakh city whose bid placed second, lacks comparable experience.
A closer examination of Beijing’s 2022 bid, though, reveals the selection is far more peculiar than it seems at first glance. One reason: It barely snows in Beijing. China’s northern plain is extremely dry, and what precipitation that falls in the capital tends to occur during the summer. Beijing’s Olympic planners have assured the IOC this won’t be a problem—the country will simply use artificial snow to accommodate events, such as skiing, that require it.
Most of the big names in futurism are men. What does that mean for the direction we’re all headed?
In the future, everyone’s going to have a robot assistant. That’s the story, at least. And as part of that long-running narrative, Facebook just launched its virtual assistant. They’re calling it Moneypenny—the secretary from the James Bond Films. Which means the symbol of our march forward, once again, ends up being a nod back. In this case, Moneypenny is a send-up to an age when Bond’s womanizing was a symbol of manliness and many women were, no matter what they wanted to be doing, secretaries.
Why can’t people imagine a future without falling into the sexist past? Why does the road ahead keep leading us back to a place that looks like the Tomorrowland of the 1950s? Well, when it comes to Moneypenny, here’s a relevant datapoint: More than two thirds of Facebook employees are men. That’s a ratio reflected among another key group: futurists.