Vladimir Putin is playing for the highest geopolitical stakes. Can the U.S. government afford to do less? Regardless of whether Putin’s near term aim is to take a chunk or two out of Ukraine —as he took chunks out of Georgia in 2008 —or just to stake out a bargaining position to make sure Russia can hold on to its Black Sea naval base after its lease expires in 2017, there is no doubt at all about his long term objective
The relationship between economics on the one hand and disciplines such as history, psychology, and sociology on the other is much disputed and seems to me a little like that of couples who live in a state of hostile dependence: they cannot live together but cannot live apart.
Are there rules of political economy such that if they are obeyed prosperity invariably and everywhere results? Or, of course, if disobeyed, impoverishment? Ought an economist to be more like a novelist in his understanding than a scientist?
I recently read an article by Barry Eichengreen, professor of economics and political science at Berkeley, about the Greek crisis, if a situation that has continued for years can properly be called a crisis. The article addresses the mistakes made by Greece. Amen to that: who wants to repeat mistakes?
Hot on the heels of the latest annual Bilderberg get-together (link no longer available) in Berkshire, England, political leaders at the just-concluded G8 summit in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, announced that the EU and US intend to broker a free-trade agreement between them by the end of next year, with talks towards one due to begin next month.
How should supporters of free-markets respond to the news of such an agreement – with jubilation, indifference, or dismay? Prima facie, such a deal can only be good news. The removal or lowering of tariffs fosters trade and thereby supposedly facilitates mutually beneficial international division of labour which in turn, by fostering a greater interdependency between nations, reduces the chances of war between them.
In reality, however, the prospect of such an agreement is anything but a cause for celebration for freedom lovers.