Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Food for Thought

From an article by Carlos Lozada:

With all the despair over the American economy's disappearing jobs and plummeting growth, here's mind bender for you: There is no U.S. economy. The national economy, as we traditionally think of it, is a myth. A fake. Over.

So contend Bruce Katz, Mark Muro and Jennifer Bradley in the latest issue of the journal "Democracy." The United States is not a single unified economy, they say, nor even a breakdown of 50 state economies. Instead, the country's 100 largest metropolitan regions are the real drivers of economic activity, generating two-thirds of the nation's jobs and three-quarters of its output. The sooner we reorient federal economic policies to support this "MetroNation," the quicker we can fix the mess we're in.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Israeli Politics

Check out my new blogpost on a site associated with Haaretz:


Many of you will know the back alleys near Kikar Tzion in Jerusalem: dusty, cobbled-stoned roads, labyrinthine alleys, and rusty railings greet you there. I entered my apartment by passing under a stone archway, turning right, jumping over a gate, climbing stairs, jiggling a difficult lock, and passing through my roommate’s room. My job was no less idiosyncratic and, fittingly, the open courtyard where I dug dirt and carried tiles was within sight of my apartment. My co-workers were Palestinian tiling experts and Ukrainian leathernecks in their fifties.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Reasons to Worry

David Smick in the Washington Post:

Pity Barack Obama's economic advisers. The blogs are now demanding their scalps, and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and his colleagues face a nasty dilemma: There are no solutions to the banking crisis without extraordinary political and financial risks. Thus, they have adopted a three-pronged approach, delay, delay, delay, in the hope that somebody comes up with a breakthrough.



David Ignatius in the Post:


We're still in the Neville Chamberlain phase when it comes to the economic crisis. The government is talking about sacrifice and solutions, but it hasn't yet made the tough decisions that will put the economy back together.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Letter to NYT: A Theoretical Basis for Moderate Political Thought

Dear Editor:

David Brooks (“A Moderate Manifesto,” 3/3/09) offers an appealing vision of a capitalism aware of its social underpinnings, and of a humanism aware of the decentralization required for economic growth. He could go further by explaining the global context that justifies his thinking.

Increasing global competition belies the idea that government can desist from making the social investments necessary to build new generations of engineers, entrepreneurs, and technicians. It also, however, reminds us of the perils of chasing capital away from our shores. The central challenge that faces us today is that of balancing these two aims.

Many Democrats and Republicans prefer to live in a simpler world in which, respectively, state action is the fundamental palliative, or the fundamental poison. The requisite wake-up call can come from a cold-eyed gaze at the growing power of international markets. A depression might make us do just that.


Sincerely,
Barak Epstein

Letter to WSJ: Protectionism, Globalization, and the Recession

To Whom It May Concern:

New economic realities demand new agreements and regulatory regimes and Jeffrey E. Garten (“The Dangers of Turning Inward, 3/1/09) is correct to identify the source of our current economic woes in an unbalanced global financial system that included an Asian savings glut, distorted currency exchange rates and, consequently, as we know well, inflated asset prices in developed countries.

Professor Garten proposes some lucid solutions to these problems but cannot do much to identify the political force that will call for careful international regulation and social investment. This is no fault of his own. Republican nativist and Democratic labor protectionist sentiment are well-entrenched and a sufficient reorganization of international institutions would necessitate compromises in national sovereignty that neither political party could support.

Garten hopes that “short-lived recession” would teach the body politic enough about the new global order to make possible needed reforms. Count me among those who think that the learning curve will be too steep for that.

Sincerely,
Barak Epstein

Monday, March 02, 2009

Reflections on the Israeli Election

Many of you will know the back alleys near Kikar Tzion in Jerusalem: dusty, cobbled-stoned roads, labyrinthine alleys, and rusty railings greet you there. I entered my apartment by passing under a stone archway, turning right, jumping over a gate, climbing stairs, jiggling a difficult lock, and passing through my roommate’s room. My job was no less (darkly mysterious) and, fittingly, the open courtyard where I dug dirt and carried tiles was within sight of my apartment. My co-workers were Palestinian tiling experts and Ukrainian leathernecks in their fifties. (Continue reading.)