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Weekly selection
7 July 2018

5 insightful op-eds or articles to help make sense of today’s world

  • Anne Krueger, “Trump’s Protectionist Rube Goldberg Machine”

    (Project Syndicate - 4 July 2018)

    Trade policies are complicated business. Among the plethora of articles trying to foresee what trade tensions / war will actually do, this one sets the scene straight. The much-respected former chief economist of the World Bank explains why Trump’s approach will weaken competition and cause delays, with the predictable result being higher costs for the American consumer and reduced quality control (reads in 6-7 min.)

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  • Brad Setser, “U.S. Deficits Are Hurting Emerging Markets”

    (Foreign Affairs (metered paywall) - 3 July 2018)

    We’ve addressed this issue on many occasions, but it’s of such fundamental importance that it’s worth re-emphasizing it. The US has the loosest fiscal stance of any of the G7 countries; but the effects of the US deficit go beyond the US. Thanks to the dollar’s outsize global role, the first casualties are likely to be emerging economies that have used the dollar to denominate their debts, not the US itself. The reason is dead simple, but fundamental: a stronger dollar and rising US interest rates are increasing the burden of paying all dollar-denominated debts around the world (reads in 7-8 min).

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  • David Frum, “The Great Russian Disinformation Campaign”

    (The Atlantic - 1 July 2018)

    In a new book (The Road to Unfreedom), the historian Timothy Snyder explains how Russia revolutionized information warfare—and presages its consequences for democracies in Europe and the US. For Clausewitz, war was the use of violence by one state to impose its will upon another; but now new technology enables a state to “engage the enemy’s will directly, without the medium of violence.” This is a revolution that Russia has imposed upon the US and the EU. Snyder sees Trump as the ultimate expression of Putin’s anti-factuality and as a “Russian tool” (reads in 12-15 min).

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  • Katrina Brooker, ““I Was Devastated: Tim Berners-Lee, The Man Who Created The World Wide Web, Has Some Regret”

    (Vanity Fair - 1 July 2018)

    Three decades after he created it, Berners-Lee has seen the Web debased by everything from fake news to mass surveillance. From the beginning, he understood the Web epic power to radically transform governments, businesses and societies. He also envisioned that his invention could, in the wrong hands, become a “destroyer of words”. But he’s got a plan to fix it, which the article explains (reads in more than 10 min). 

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  • Peter Haldeman, “The Secret Price of Pets”

    (The New York Times - metered paywall - 6 July 2018)

    The pets’ business is booming, and often in a manner that this articles describes as “baroque”. This is particularly true in the US, where last year, pets’ owners spent $69.5 billion on their “fur babies”. From silicone testicle implants to designer drugs and “pawdicures,” owners spare no expense when it comes to their furry friends. As dogs’ and cats’ “lifestyles” increasingly mirror our own, greenness, mindfulness and wellness have become other marketing buzzwords. What does this tell us about us? (reads in 5-6 min). 

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