News&Views no. 42
The big picture from The Economist
Christmas has come and gone and we are having some rest in a place where we can be found only with difficulty. The December 17-23 Economist has provided a nice set of Leaders. I shall pick a few ideas that seem worthwhile.
‘The winter war’ starts ‘Ukraine chiefs warn of a looming Russian offensive and the critical months lie ahead.’ Scary for the Ukraine but their president has kept western nations named, and his meeting with President Biden was a great success and received more help to deal with Russia.
The final paragraph is as follows: ‘The entire world – including Russia – would benefit from the failure of the revanchist idea the old Russian empire can be recreated. If Ukraine is adequately supported, its commanders can push a long way towards the coast, and possibly take back what Mr Putin has seized since February. The more territory that Ukraine can recover the greater the chances of its lasting success.’
Vast amounts of money will be required and one hopes that the US and other leading nations will keep helping the Ukraine.
The next Leader is ‘Little steps, many lives’.
This concerns the new China’s ‘western style’ attempts to work hard to minimise Covid to minimise illness. The final paragraph says: ‘As the state has failed to do its job, people are helping themselves. Masks are ubiquitous in many cities and more people are working from home. Restaurants and cinemas may be open, but in cities such as Beijing they remain largely empty. All this will help slow the growth of this Covid wave and ease the pressure on hospitals. But the government must also act. In a country the size of China, even small steps could save many lives’.
‘The global economy’ is the next headline and asks ‘Why are the rich worlds politicians giving up on economic growth?’
‘The prospect of recession may loom over the global economy today, but the rich world’s difficulties over growth are graver still. The long-run rate of growth has dwindled alarmingly, contributing to problems including stagnant living standards and fulminating populists.’
And in the third para: ‘The latter half of the 20th century was a golden age for growth. … ‘The lowering of trade barriers and the integration of Asia into the world economy later led to much more efficient production’
In finality: ‘For the time being, the west is being made to look good by autocratic China and Russia, which both have inflicted deep economic wounds deep on themselves. Yet unless they embrace growth, rich democracies will see their economic vitality ebb away and will become weaker on the world stage. …
‘Once you begin to think about growth, wrote Robert Lucas, a Nobel-prize-winning economist, ‘it is hard to think about anything else’. If only governments would take the first step.’
Consider Australia. Lots of proposals floating about, but ‘productivity’ is barely mentioned. Get with the main game Mr Albanese.
As is often the case, The Economist has a bunch of powerful ideas.
An oldie but a goodie, Fiona Prior contemplates birth, death, love and violence at Chiharu Shiota's 'The Soul Trembles'. More here.