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The 1970s Weren’t What You Think

Yes, fiscal and monetary policy seemed stuck for too long in expansionary mode. But the era also saw the rebalancing of the world economy. Some historical analogies are playful. Some require elaborate academic justification. Others are native to our world. The lessons learned from them are so ubiquitous as to be part of our intellectual furniture. They are built into our very institutions. The European Union, for instance, repeatedly invokes the need to avoid anything that resembles the violent European politics of the first half of the 20th century. NATO abides as an organization dedicated to, in the words of its first secretary-general, keeping “the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down”—all three imperatives learned from the experience of the early 20th century. For economic policy, there are two such formative moments. One is the Great Depression of the 1930s, from which we learned the lesson not to allow aggregate demand, the money supply, or global trade to implode. Those lessons informed economic policy in response to the crises of 2008 and 2020.

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The second coming of Nato

In November 2019, from the salon doré of the Élysée Palace, where Charles de Gaulle once held court, Emmanuel Macron warned his fellow Europeans that Nato, the transatlantic alliance that had secured Europe since 1949, was on the point of “brain death”. President Donald Trump’s administration, to the horror of America’s own soldiers, had just unilaterally withdrawn support from the Kurdish forces in northern Syria, sacrificing them to Bashar al-Assad and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Within a year, the US would impose sanctions on Turkey, a member of Nato since 1952, for its purchase of Russian anti-aircraft missiles. Disunity reigned. In 2017 Angela Merkel had returned from a chaotic meeting with Trump to declare that Europe could clearly no longer count on America as an ally and must look to its own resources for its security. Macron’s concern over two years later was that little had happened to make good on that realisation. The antics of leaders such as Trump and Erdoğan would be hard to contain in any formal alliance. But Nato’s problems went deeper

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It’s Africa’s Century—for Better or Worse

Asia gets the attention, but the real economic revolution is the inevitable growth of an overlooked continent. In the coming decades, we face a revolutionary shift in the balance of world affairs—and it is likely not the one you are thinking of. Since the 1990s, the idea that we might be entering an “Asian century” has preoccupied and disorientated the West. However, once we take in view the long sweep of history, the return of China and India to the center stage of world affairs is less a revolution than a restoration. For most of the last 2,000 years, the great Chinese and Indian empires were the center of world trade and home to the most sophisticated civilizations. Their growing influence in the world today is the rectification of the anomaly that arose in the 1700s as a result of the yawning divergence in per capita income between “the West” and “the rest.” Successive industrial revolutions and waves of colonial conquest created a world in which economic and military power was radically misaligned with population.

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Ones & Tooze: Stagflation Nation?

On this episode, Adam and Cameron discuss stagflation—possibly the most ominous portmanteau in the English language. It’s the double whammy of inflation combined with zero or negative economic growth. How can the two coexist? And what does stagflation mean for the world economy? Later on the show, they talk about dinosaur bones and the economics of Jurassic Park—if it could actually exist. Find more episodes

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Chartbook #138: Build Back Better, Dead Again

On Thursday last week, the Build Back Better package that was to define the first term of the Biden presidency with a combination of climate funding, health care measures and progressive taxation, was declared dead, for the second time. The last rites had first been pronounced in December last year. It was then revived. Now it seems to have a stake planted squarely in its

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After the Zeitenwende: Jürgen Habermas and Germany’s new identity crisis

Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has upended world politics and nowhere more so than in Germany. Addressing an emergency session of the Bundestag on 27 February, German chancellor Olaf Scholz declared a Zeitenwende, a turning point in history. Russia’s attack on Ukraine meant Europe and Germany had entered a new age. But what direction is history turning in? Scholz promised to raise Germany’s defence spending

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Is escalation in Ukraine part of the US strategy?

The aim of the billions committed through the Lend-Lease plan could tip the geopolitical balance. History may be about to repeat itself In the spring of Russia’s war on Ukraine, Washington DC seems haunted by the ghosts of history. The US Congress has passed the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022 to expedite aid to Ukraine – just as Franklin D Roosevelt did, under

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Does Ukraine need a Marshall Plan?

Amid the twisted girders, ruined walls and underground tunnels of the Azovstal plant, Ukraine’s defenders are making their last stand in the siege of Mariupol. The steel factory dates to 1933 and the era of high-Stalinism. It was ruined by Hitler’s Wehrmacht before his forces retreated in 1943, and restored in the postwar period as one of the hubs of Soviet industry. Now the steel

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

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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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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