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The Post-Merkel Return of German Ideologies

After years of consensus, a new era of division is set to roil German politics at home and abroad. In what may prove to be her last speech to the Bundestag, last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel appealed to voters to give their vote to Armin Laschet to be her successor as leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party. For Merkel as chancellor to speak in such a partisan manner from the rostrum of the parliament was unusual. It is indicative of her party’s desperation, which has slumped to historic lows in opinion polls. In some ways, even more revealing than her belated support for Laschet was the dark fear Merkel conjured up. German voters should back Laschet, she urged, because the alternative would be a government of the left uniting the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the Greens, and Die Linke. Laschet himself and Bavaria’s Markus Söder, his rival for national CDU leadership, have since doubled down, warning not just of Die Linke, a party formed out of remnants of Germany’s Socialist Unity Party

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How China Avoided Soviet-Style Collapse

Understanding the shifting balance of social forces, interest groups and political factions is essential to see how China escaped the shock therapy that brought down the Soviet Union. For three days in the middle of May 1989, the Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev visited Beijing. It was the first visit by a Soviet leader to China since the Sino-Soviet split. It would be the last.  After Gorbachev went home, the two countries’ paths divided. Over the next two and a half years, the Soviet Union and its alliance system were dismembered. A world power was relegated to the status of a Eurasian spoiler with an outsized nuclear arsenal. As the apparatus of Soviet command was dismantled, the economies of the former Union and its allies imploded. People suffered a disastrous collapse in their standard of living. The life expectancy of Russian working-class men plunged.  China, by contrast, was on the path to Communist Party-led rocket-ship growth. National economic heft, a rising standard of living and political legitimacy all compounded each other to launch what Xi

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Wall Street Journal logo

The 9/11 Attacks in Historical Perspective, 20 Years Later – Vast Spending With Dubious Returns

The global war on terror triggered by 9/11 was a vast undertaking. It took hundreds of thousands of lives, reshaped America’s relations with large parts of the world and challenged its moral compass. It also involved spending a lot of money. Total spending by the Defense Department, the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security from 2001 to 2020, including current and likely future spending on veterans, comes to $5.4 trillion, or about $230 billion a year. That is just over 1% of 2021 [gross domestic product]. That’s a lot. But it is also low enough to explain why it was possible for the U.S. to carry on for much ofTotal spending by the Defense Department, the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security from 2001 to 2020, including current and likely future spending on veterans, comes to $5.4 trillion, or about $230 billion a year. That is just over 1% of 2021 [gross domestic product]. That’s a lot. But it is also low enough to explain why it was possible for the

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New Statesman

The new age of American power

Despite forecasts of decline following the Afghanistan withdrawal, the US military is planning another century of global domination. In August 2021, the dismaying scenes at Kabul airport stirred a number of gloomy pronouncements about the decline of American power. The anguished tone of these reactions reflects not just the horror on the ground, but a sense of personal betrayal felt by the pundit class. For

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The Guardian Logo

Has Covid ended the neoliberal era?

The year 2020 exposed the risks and weaknesses of the market-driven global system like never before. It’s hard to avoid the sense that a turning point has been reached If one word could sum up the experience of 2020, it would be disbelief. Between Xi Jinping’s public acknowledgment of the coronavirus outbreak on 20 January 2020, and Joe Biden’s inauguration as the 46th president of

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The New York Times logo

What if the Coronavirus Crisis Is Just a Trial Run?

Almost two years since the novel coronavirus began to circulate through the human population, what lessons have we learned? And what do those lessons portend for future crises? The most obvious is the hardest to digest: The world’s decision makers have given us a staggering demonstration of their collective inability to grasp what it would actually mean to govern the deeply globalized and interconnected world

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Don’t Abandon Afghanistan’s Economy Too

As the chances of evacuation dwindle, the West owes Afghans a chance at surviving in their own country. As Western powers pull out of Afghanistan, they have begun to ask themselves what their remaining sources of leverage over the Taliban are. In forums like the G-7 meeting chaired by the United Kingdom, conversations rapidly turn to the possibility of using funding as a means of

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WW2TV

Wages of Destruction with WW2TV

A look at Germany’s wartime economy as explored by Adam’s in his award winning book The Wages of Destruction. Our talking points will include the fact that after the Germans had failed to defeat Great Britain in 1940, the economic logic of the war drove them to an invasion of the Soviet Union. Hitler was constrained do so in 1941 to obtain the natural resources

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Discussion with Wolfgang Schäuble

WEF 2020: Why Protests Are An Integral Part Of Democracy

GZERO World with Ian Bremmer – Is a 2nd Great Depression Coming?

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Journalism & Interviews

Chartbook

Sign up below for Adam’s bi-weekly newsletter, which includes economic data, images, & stories that matter.

at the mic
on bookshelves

Look out for Adam’s next book, Carbon, out in 2023.

on air

Discussion with Wolfgang Schäuble

WEF 2020: Why Protests Are An Integral Part Of Democracy

GZERO World with Ian Bremmer – Is a 2nd Great Depression Coming?

on record
on the blog