The European Union (EU) has asked its citizens to brace for further economic misery. In a report on European economic prospects released on May 3, the European Commission said that further deterioration is expected to last at least until 2015. But, as every such report says, things will then get better.
For a long time it was a given that while Europe was based on defending a more just society, with social values and solidarity, the United States was based on the glory of individualism and competition, and anything public was considered “socialist”.
The flood of elegiac articles on former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is in itself a good measure of how we have all become Thatcherites without realising it. Only those who are not graced by a young age can see how the world and politics have changed so deeply since her days that it is correct to call her a “great revolutionary”.
What is Hugo Chávez's legacy to Latin America? The best way to evaluate a head of state is to examine what is left behind after his or her death. In the case of Chávez, his image is obscured by a series of ideological and cultural prejudices that hide a clear perception of who he was.
For those who think that Occupy Wall Street, the Indignados in Spain, the World Social Forum and the numerous manifestations of protest worldwide are expressions without concrete outcomes, the result of the Swiss referendum on Mar. 3 on capping the salaries and bonuses of banks executives should make them think twice.
The victory of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in the recent Japanese elections, with Shinzo Abe coming back as prime minister after five years, will probably mean an escalation of tensions with China. Both countries are embarking on a fresh burst of nationalism, but for different reasons.
In the 1980s, Japan was the dragon of the world. All cutting edge technology cars, gadgets, cameras, medical equipment and new management systems came from Japan. Then the country started to slow down, and it basically went to sleep.
From time to time, we read about the confrontation between Japan and China over some insignificant islands, called the Senkaku by Japan and Diaoyu by China, which are also claimed by Taiwan. Japan also faces claims by South Korea over the Dodko islets, called Takeshima in Japan.
Hardly a week goes by without the disclosure of some new banking scandal. The most recent is the New York State Department of Financial Services' accusation of Britain's Standard Chartered of laundering 250 billion dollars in transactions considered potentially supportive of terrorist activities. Standard Chartered, until now believed to be one of the cleanest banks, agreed on August 14 to pay a gigantic fine of 340 million dollars to stop criminal prosecution.
Like passengers on a ship in a storm, European banks and governments are holding onto each other in a precarious embrace.
A recurrent prediction of western politicians says that China, with its economic development, will inevitably transform itself into a democracy. Nonetheless, after five weeks traveling around the country, I have no doubt that if there were elections today, the Communist Party (CCP) would win elections with a wide majority.
Xie Jing is 15 years old and belongs to the generation that in 2020, according to predictions, will see China transformed into the major world economic power. But Xie has no political or cultural interest. His generation is very different from previous ones. She lives in her own world, completely globalized, where the North American life style is the main reference point. She dresses herself as a North American teenager, listens to the same music, has the same idols and the same relation with the Internet and virtual world. The governmental newspaper, China Daily published two striking articles. On the 28th of October it revealed that electronic matrimony became very popular amongst youngsters. A game called cybermarriage registered one million participants in the first month. It is calculated that the electronic matrimonies have reached 30 million subscribers, and that 70% of the "married couples" are under 18.
There is not one day going by now without devastating news of the eternal tug-of-war between finance and states. Now we are informed that the Greek government, in order to continue receiving useless subsidies (since it won't solve its problems) will lay off another 30,000 employees. It is difficult to understand how a country that is suffering a critical contraction of its consumption will be able to exit a cruel downward spiral that will cause serious social deficits, without solving its fiscal deficit. However, the banks are not willing to eliminate any of their bad practices that have caused the current crisis.
Anyone who discusses international affairs with Americans quickly becomes aware of a fundamental change in syntax without which they find it impossible to converse. The subject of every sentence has to be the United States. If China, India, or Germany, for example, are the focus, the attention of the American interlocutor will waver -unless, perhaps the subject is Israel. The US is the only possible subject of discussion for Americans,with the obvious exception of the cultural elites and US citizens doing business around the world.
Before anything else what we need today is a paradigm to diagnose and address the many grave global problems that face us all but are experienced differently in the various regions of the world. Because in Europe the crisis is more evident and is causing the suffering of tens of millions of people, the young especially, we must take it as reality.