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Journal Cover The Economist - Leaders
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   ISSN (Online) 1358-274X
   Published by The Economist Group Homepage  [4 journals]
  • The tasks facing the new Saudi crown prince
    • Abstract: WHEN King Salman acceded to the Saudi throne in 2015, it was plain that his son, Muhammad, wielded the real power. He may formally have been second in the line of succession, but Muhammad bin Salman (known as MBS) ran most of the things that mattered: the plan to transform the Saudi state and wean the economy away from oil; the war in Yemen and the wider contest against Shia Iran; and much else besides. When he gave his first on-the-record interview, to The Economist in January 2016, MBS spoke about Saudi Arabia in the first person—talking of “my borders”.On the face of it, the elevation of MBS to crown prince, replacing his older cousin, Muhammad bin Nayef, means only that his job title has caught up with reality (see article). Yet it rewrites the kingdom’s strange rules of succession. Whereas...
      PubDate: Thu, 22 June 2017 13:43:35 GMT
  • Rushing health care in America would be reckless and undemocratic
    • Abstract: MITCH McCONNELL, the leader of the Republican majority in the Senate, once complained that President Barack Obama’s health-care bill was thrown together in a back room and then dropped on the Senate floor “with a stopwatch running”. Now he has made the tactic his own. Mr McConnell hopes to call a vote on a health-care bill that will have barely left the printer’s. A week before a vote that could remake a sixth of the economy, even many Republican senators claim not to know what the bill contains.Why the hush, hurry and hypocrisy? Mr McConnell wants to minimise the opportunity for critics to...
      PubDate: Thu, 22 June 2017 13:43:35 GMT
  • The aftershocks of Grenfell Tower and the future of austerity
    • Abstract: IT FEELS as if Britain has been visited by a battalion of sorrows. Deadly attacks by, and this week against, Muslims have shattered the belief that the security services can shield Britain from the terrorism afflicting the continent. A minority government has taken office under a prime minister who has no authority, ushering in chronic instability. And, as if to symbolise it all, an inferno at the Grenfell Tower in London’s richest borough claimed at least 79 lives of its poorest residents. Britons are searching for a moral that measures up to the catastrophe.Many possible morals have been overblown, sometimes to the point of exploitation. Capitalism has not failed. Britain’s tall buildings should not, as some say, be branded unfit for human habitation—but be made safer instead (see article). The fire at Grenfell...
      PubDate: Thu, 22 June 2017 13:43:35 GMT
  • What to do when Viktor Orban erodes democracy
    • Abstract: IN 1989, during the dying days of the Soviet Union, a long-haired 26-year-old dissident called Viktor Orban addressed a crowd in Budapest’s Heroes’ Square. The charismatic young liberal told the Russians to withdraw from Hungary. He rejected “the dictatorship of a single party”. He called for free elections.How things change. Today Mr Orban, Hungary’s prime minister, is one of Vladimir Putin’s closest friends in Europe. His country is increasingly dominated by one party, his own. Elections may be free, but they are not fair. Mr Orban has rewritten the constitution, dismantled checks and balances (“a US invention” unsuited to Europe, he says), muzzled the press and empowered oligarchs. Refugees, who supposedly threaten Hungary’s Christian identity, are beaten by police and mauled by police dogs. Debates over values, Mr Orban thinks, “unnecessarily generate social problems”. He wants to fashion an “illiberal state” modelled on China, Russia and Turkey.Mr Orban has...
      PubDate: Thu, 22 June 2017 13:43:35 GMT
  • India’s prime minister is not as much of a reformer as he seems
    • Abstract: WHEN Narendra Modi became prime minister of India in 2014, opinion was divided as to whether he was a Hindu zealot disguised as an economic reformer, or the other way round. The past three years appear to have settled the matter. Yes, Mr Modi has pandered to religious sentiment at times, most notably by appointing a rabble-rousing Hindu prelate as chief minister of India’s most-populous state, Uttar Pradesh. But he has also presided over an acceleration in economic growth, from 6.4% in 2013 to a high of 7.9% in 2015—which made India the fastest-growing big economy in the world. He has pushed through reforms that had stalled for years, including an overhaul of bankruptcy law and the adoption of a nationwide sales tax (GST) to replace a confusing array of local and national levies. Foreign investment has soared, albeit from a low base. India, cabinet ministers insist, is at last becoming the tiger Mr Modi promised.Alas, these appearances are deceiving (see...
      PubDate: Thu, 22 June 2017 08:48:24 GMT
  • China’s crushing of independent lawyers is a blow to rule of law
    • Abstract: SHORTLY after he took over as China’s leader in 2012, Xi Jinping had some encouraging words—at least, so they seemed to some of China’s eternally beleaguered liberals. It was essential, said Mr Xi, “to ensure that all citizens are equal before the law, to respect and guarantee human rights, and to enable citizens to enjoy extensive rights and freedoms in accordance with the law.” His exhortation was aimed at the rapidly growing middle class that wanted the Communist Party to rule with a lighter and fairer touch. Without their support, officials feared, the party’s grip on power would be in jeopardy.But it turns out that Mr Xi is even more fearful of giving the middle class freer rein than he is of upsetting them. Three years later, in 2015, he launched a sweeping clampdown on hundreds of legal activists, the boldest of whom state media label sike lawyers. The term literally means “death bashing”, suggesting they are activists willing to fight to...
      PubDate: Thu, 15 June 2017 14:54:04 GMT
  • The lessons from Canada’s attempts to curb its house-price boom
    • Abstract: IN MATTERS of finance, if not climate, Canada is usually temperate. It was barely moved by the economic storms that blew the roof off America and Europe in 2008-09. Its banks were steady, it was argued, in part because they were shielded from the ferocious competition for market share that pushed banks elsewhere into hazardous loans. For all that, in its housing market Canada has lately become a place of extremes.Household debt has climbed to almost 170% of post-tax income. House prices rose by 20% in the year to April. Looked at relative to rents, they have deviated from their long-run average by more than any other big country The Economist covers in its global house-price index. In Toronto, one of two cities, along with Vancouver, where the boom has been concentrated, rental yields are barely above the cost of borrowing, even though interest rates are at record lows. In its twice-yearly health-check on the financial system, published this month, the Bank of Canada concluded that “extrapolative...
      PubDate: Thu, 15 June 2017 14:54:04 GMT
  • Why Uber’s boss must go
    • Abstract: IT HAS been a wild ride. Seven years ago Uber launched itself as an app connecting well-heeled users with nearby limousines. It has since become the most prominent tech startup in the world, with a valuation of $70bn. The company’s hard-charging culture—embodied in Travis Kalanick, Uber’s co-founder and boss—was celebrated, not questioned.No longer. The firm is fending off accusations of stealing autonomous-car technology. It is being investigated for allegedly designing software to identify and evade transport regulators. Most toxic are charges of rampant sexism. Mr Kalanick and his band of brothers created a workplace more reminiscent of a bar than a business. For months a law firm has investigated what are believed to be more than 200 claims of misconduct, including sexual harassment, discrimination and bullying.Uber is belatedly making efforts to fix things. As a result of the inquiry into sexual harassment, more than 20 employees and executives have been...
      PubDate: Thu, 15 June 2017 14:53:57 GMT
  • How to turn a chaotic election result into a better Brexit
    • Abstract: THERESA MAY called a snap election two months ago to build a “strong and stable” government. How those words will haunt her. On June 8th voters decided that, rather than transform her small majority into a thumping one, they would remove it altogether. The result is a country in an even deeper mess. Mrs May is gravely wounded but staggering on. If and when she goes, yet another election may follow—and its plausible winner would be Jeremy Corbyn, of Labour’s far-left fringe. On the eve of the Brexit referendum’s first anniversary, the chaos it has unleashed rumbles on unabated.With negotiations due to begin in Brussels in days, the circumstances could hardly be less promising. Yet the electoral upset has thrown up a chance for Britain and the European Union to forge a better deal than the one which looked likely a week ago. Because Mrs May’s drastic “hard Brexit” has been rejected by voters, the question of what replaces it is back in play.That rejection has at least...
      PubDate: Thu, 15 June 2017 09:18:20 GMT
  • Electoral victory will make France’s president a potent force
    • Abstract: FLORENCE LEHERICY is a nurse, but on Monday she is likely to start a new career as a parliamentary deputy for Calvados, in northern France. Jean-Marie Fiévet, a fireman, will join her from a constituency in Deux Sèvres in the west. Both are political novices. They belong to La République en Marche! (LRM), the movement behind Emmanuel Macron, who last month also won his first ever election—and duly took control of the Elysée Palace. Welcome to the revolution.Across France people have risen up against a political class that failed them (see article). The first round of voting for the legislature, on June 11th, suggests that LRM, which Mr Macron created only 14 months ago, will win at least 400 of its 577 seats. The Socialists will lose 90% of their deputies, including their leader who did not even make the run-off. The Republicans...
      PubDate: Thu, 15 June 2017 09:03:17 GMT
  • India has made primary education universal, but not good
    • Abstract: IN 1931 Mahatma Gandhi ridiculed the idea that India might have universal primary education “inside of a century”. He was too pessimistic. Since 1980 the share of Indian teenagers who have had no schooling has fallen from about half to less than one in ten. That is a big, if belated, success for the country with more school-age children, 260m, than any other.Yet India has failed these children. Many learn precious little at school. India may be famous for its elite doctors and engineers, but half of its nine-year-olds cannot do a sum as simple as eight plus nine. Half of ten-year-old Indians cannot read a paragraph meant for seven-year-olds. At 15, pupils in Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh are five years behind their (better-off) peers in Shanghai. The average 15-year-old from these states would be in the bottom 2% of an American class. With few old people and a falling birth rate, India has a youth bulge: 13% of its inhabitants are teenagers, compared with 8% in China and 7% in...
      PubDate: Thu, 08 June 2017 14:46:07 GMT
  • China’s rockiest environmental problem: its soil
    • Abstract: AFTER Donald Trump said on June 1st that America would pull out of the Paris accord on climate change, many people congratulated China for sticking with it. With America on the sidelines, some see China as the leader of the fight against global warming—an idea that the Chinese Communist Party is eager to promote (see Banyan). Although it is the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, China has made a determined effort to cut back. It has burned less coal in each of the past three years. In 2016 it installed more wind-power capacity than any other country; three times as much as the runner-up, America. Some analysts believe that China’s CO{-2} emissions may peak in 2025, five years earlier than the goal it set in Paris. Yet it is premature to call China a champion of greenery.Its air and water are notoriously foul. Less noticed, but just as alarming, much of its soil is poisoned, too. As our briefing explains the scale of the problem is hard to gauge, largely because China’s government is so opaque. A soil survey conducted between 2006 and 2011 was at first classified as secret. Many of its findings are still not public, but one grim statistic has emerged: one-fifth of Chinese farmland contains higher-than-...
      PubDate: Thu, 08 June 2017 14:46:07 GMT
  • America is no longer a force for stability in the Gulf
    • Abstract: AMERICA’S president got on so well last month with King Salman of Saudi Arabia that he has embraced the monarch’s foreign-policy goals. Sunni Saudi Arabia detests Shia Iran, its chief regional rival. So does Donald Trump. He also appears to share the Saudi view that the most egregious bankroller of terrorism in the Middle East is the tiny sheikhdom of Qatar. He applauded when, on June 5th, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates severed diplomatic ties with Qatar, as well as land, sea and air links. The Gulf states gave Qatari citizens 14 days to leave. Ludicrously, the UAE declared that anyone publishing expressions of support for Qatar can be jailed for up to 15 years. Mr Trump tweeted: “Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!”Though tiny, Qatar matters. It is the world’s largest producer of liquefied natural gas and an airline hub. It is also host to Al Jazeera, the nearest the Middle East has to an uncensored broadcaster (so long as...
      PubDate: Thu, 08 June 2017 14:46:07 GMT
  • Why the Federal Reserve should leave interest rates unchanged
    • Abstract: NO STATEMENT from the Federal Reserve is complete without a promise to make decisions based on the data. In each of the past two years, a souring outlook for the world economy prompted the Fed to delay interest-rate rises. And quite right, too. Yet if the Fed raises rates on June 14th in the face of low inflation, as it has strongly hinted, it would bring into question its commitment both to the data and also to its 2% inflation target.The central bank has raised rates three times since December 2015 (the latest rise came in March). It is good that monetary policy is a little tighter than it was back then. The unemployment rate, at 4.3%, is lower than at any time since early 2001. A broad range of earnings data show a modest pickup in wage growth. The Fed is right to think that it is better to slow the economy gradually than be forced to bring it to a screeching halt later, if wage and price rises get out of hand. The rate increases to date have been reasonable insurance against an inflationary surge....
      PubDate: Thu, 08 June 2017 14:46:07 GMT
  • Tech firms could do more to help stop the jihadists
    • Abstract: THREE jihadist attacks in Britain in as many months have led to a flood of suggestions about how to fight terrorism, from more police and harsher jail sentences to new legal powers. But one idea has gained momentum in both Europe and America—that internet firms are doing the jihadists’ work for them. Technology giants, such as Google and Facebook, are accused of turning a blind eye to violent online propaganda and other platforms of allowing terrorists to communicate with each other out of reach of the intelligence services.It is only the latest such charge. The technology firms have also been condemned for allowing the spread of fake news and harbouring bullies, bigots and trolls in the pursuit of profit. In the past they were accused of enabling people to evade copyright and of hosting child pornography.In all these areas, politicians are demanding that the technology giants take more responsibility for what appears on their networks. Within limits, they are right...
      PubDate: Thu, 08 June 2017 08:33:28 GMT
  • What if the bitcoin bubble bursts?
    • Abstract: MARKETS frequently froth and bubble, but the boom in bitcoin, a digital currency, is extraordinary. Although its price is down from an all-time high of $2,420 on May 24th, it has more than doubled in just two months. Anyone clever or lucky enough to have bought $1,000 of bitcoins in July 2010, when the price stood at $0.05, would now have a stash worth $46m. Other cryptocurrencies have soared, too, giving them a collective market value of about $80bn.Ascents this steep are rarely sustainable. More often than not, the word “bitcoin” now comes attached to the word “bubble”. But the question of...
      PubDate: Thu, 01 June 2017 14:45:16 GMT
  • How to cut smoking in poor countries
    • Abstract: IN SOME rich countries ex-smokers now outnumber those who still puff on. But in many poor countries smoking is on the rise, particularly among men. In parts of Africa more than a third of men smoke. In some Asian countries men are as likely to smoke as they were in America 50 years ago, back when the idea that tobacco is deadly was still news. After high blood pressure, smoking is now the world’s second-biggest cause of ill health and early death. Recent estimates put the annual costs from illness and lost productivity at $1.4trn, or 1.8% of global GDP. Almost 40% of this falls on developing countries, which are least able to afford it.As the success in rich countries shows, there is no mystery about how to get people to stop smoking: a combination of taxes and public-health education does the job. This makes the abysmal record in poor countries a grave failure of public policy. The good news is that, following recent research, it is one that has just become easier to put right....
      PubDate: Thu, 01 June 2017 14:45:16 GMT
  • Bangladesh’s prime minister uses piety to mask misrule
    • Abstract: SHEIKH HASINA WAJED has inflicted many injuries on Bangladesh’s democracy. She has pursued a dogged vendetta against her main rival for the job of prime minister, Khaleda Zia, hounding her supporters and persecuting her party. She has picked on any prominent person or institution that is not beholden to her, from Muhammad Yunus, a microcredit pioneer, to Bangladesh’s biggest Islamic bank. Citing atrocities committed during Bangladesh’s war of independence from Pakistan in 1971, she oversaw the dismemberment of the country’s main Islamic party, executing many of its leaders. By those standards, her latest failing—pandering to the demands of Islamist agitators and refusing to defend the secular principles of the constitution—may seem relatively mild. But its consequences will be lasting.By and large, Bangladesh is as moderate as Sheikh Hasina is intemperate. Although 90% of the population is Muslim, the constitution guarantees freedom of religion. Sufism, a mystical form of Islam...
      PubDate: Thu, 01 June 2017 14:45:16 GMT
  • The world order America created is in peril
    • Abstract: ONE reason Donald Trump invites acres of commentary is that he keeps the world guessing what he means and where his foreign policy is heading. Touring Europe, he seemed to cast doubt on his support for NATO—except that his staff went on to insist that he was in fact reaffirming America’s commitment to the alliance. As The Economist went to press, he was about to announce America’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord—or, then again, he was about to stay in the accord, demonstrating the wise counsel of the globalists in his White House. Both, or something in between, were still possible.Yet, 19 weeks into Mr Trump’s presidency, out of the chaos and the contradiction a pattern is emerging. And it is not reassuring for America or for the world.Berlin discordWhether or not Mr Trump ends up quitting the Paris accord, he was not willing to support it at the meeting of the G7 in Taormina last month. In the past he has...
      PubDate: Thu, 01 June 2017 14:45:16 GMT
  • Theresa May’s failed gamble
    • Abstract: HER political career has been defined by caution. So it is cruel for Theresa May, and delicious for her enemies, that it may have been ended by one big, disastrous gamble. Eight weeks ago she called a snap election, risking her government for the chance to bank a bigger majority against an apparently shambolic Labour opposition. With the Conservatives 20 points ahead in the opinion polls, it looked like a one-way bet to a landslide and a renewed five-year term for her party. But there followed one of the most dramatic collapses in British political history. As we went to press in the early hours of June 9th, the Tories were on course to lose seats, and perhaps their majority.The balance of forces in Parliament means that any number of outcomes is possible (see Britain section). But none of them will be the “strong and stable” government that Mrs May...
      PubDate: Fri, 09 June 2017 03:18:22 GMT
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