Brazil’s coming recession: The crash of a titan -The Economist

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A gloomy look at Brazil’s economic woes and the state’s increasingly ineffective economic policy instruments:

“Faced with (two) poisonous options, a middle path is most likely. Interest rates will be too high for households and firms, so subsidised funding will grow. But they will be too low to protect the real, so swap costs will rise, too. Both subsidies put extra pressure on the government’s finances. By mixing monetary and fiscal policy in this way, Brazil is slowly rendering both ineffective.”

http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21645248-brazils-fiscal-and-monetary-levers-are-jammed-result-it-risks-getting-stuck

Europe’s Greek Test -NYTimes

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Here is Paul Krugman’s take on the Greece-Euro crisis:

“In the five years (!) that have passed since the euro crisis began, clear thinking has been in notably short supply. But that fuzziness must now end. Recent events in Greece pose a fundamental challenge for Europe: Can it get past the myths and the moralizing, and deal with reality in a way that respects the Continent’s core values? If not, the whole European project — the attempt to build peace and democracy through shared prosperity — will suffer a terrible, perhaps mortal blow.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/30/opinion/paul-krugman-europes-greek-test.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0

Syriza victory: Turning point for EU? -BBC

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Analysis of the Syriza victory in Greece and what it means for the EU courtesy of the BBC:

“There are some things during the eurozone crisis that we were told would never happen.
The European Central Bank would never flood the market with new money, and Greece would never take a gamble with the radical left.
The past few days have overturned those assumptions, making this week a potential turning point in the recent history of the European Union.”

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30977587

See also:
Greek elections: What now for the euro? http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30906153

Euro plummets as global oil prices collapse -Al Jazeera

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Note the interconnection of oil prices, the US dollar and political instability in Greece.

“Global oil prices on Monday collapsed under $50 for the first time in more than five years on the strong dollar, plunging equities, demand worries and plentiful crude supplies.

The renewed slump came as the Dow index stood down more than 200 points and European equity markets lost more than two percent on fears of a Greek exit, or so-called Grexit, from the eurozone.”

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/europe/2015/01/euro-plummets-as-global-oil-prices-collapse-201515223845848495.html

Why the West should help Putin save the ruble -Globe and Mail

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More on the falling Russian rubble from McGill’s Juliet Johnson.

“Western leaders can be forgiven for experiencing schadenfreude as their Russian nemesis, President Vladimir Putin, faces the prospect of his country’s imminent economic collapse. Yet true financial meltdowns have far-reaching, unpredictable, and often nasty consequences. Rather than celebrating or encouraging the current market panic in Russia, the West should try to stop it.”

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/why-the-west-should-help-putin-save-the-ruble/article22114113/

p.s. scha·den·freu·de. noun, often capitalized \ˈshä-dən-ˌfrȯi-də\. : a feeling of enjoyment that comes from seeing or hearing about the troubles of other people.

Is China’s economy really the largest in the world? -BBC

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http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-30483762

“The Chinese economy is now worth $17.6tn, slightly higher than the $17.4tn the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates for the US.”

but…

“if you look at per capita spending power – the value of all goods and services produced within a nation in a given year divided by the average population for the same year – then, even adjusted for PPP, China ($11,868) is still lagging a long way behind not only the United States ($53,001) but also the likes of Turkmenistan ($12,863) and Suriname ($16,080).”

and…

“…how easy is it to accurately measure the size of the Chinese economy or even just parts of it?”
“Not very, ….distortions that happen at the village and provincial levels become amplified as they go out the statistical gathering chain.”

Moreover….

“The most important number in the world, for the past 30 years and next five years, is China’s growth rate. For 30 years its economy grew at a mind-boggling rate – roughly 10% a year but that stopped when the global economy hit problems in 2008 and it fell very sharply.”

Putin cancels new natural gas pipeline to Europe in a surprise move -Washington Post

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“The cancellation appeared to end an era, at least for now, in which Russia pursued grand, expensive infrastructure projects in Europe that gave it political clout through energy supplies. The decision follows a drop in the price of oil by more than 30 percent since the summer, starving Russia of revenue and forcing it to curtail its economic ambitions.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/putin-cancels-new-natural-gas-pipeline-to-europe-in-a-surprise-move/2014/12/01/c1955c90-73ee-11e4-95a8-fe0b46e8751a_story.html?tid=pm_world_pop

China’s Questionable Economic Power -Project Syndicate

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Interesting analysis by Joseph Nye:

“The World Bank recently announced that China’s economy will surpass that of the United States this year, measured according to purchasing power parity (PPP). But this is far from a holistic depiction of China’s global economic standing…… But, even if China’s overall GDP surpasses that of the US (by whatever measure), the two economies will maintain very different structures and levels of sophistication. And China’s per capita income – a more accurate measure of economic sophistication – amounts to only 20% of America’s, and will take decades, at least, to catch up (if it ever does).”

http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/china-questionable-economic-power-by-joseph-s–nye-2014-11

iPhone 5s Clone: Full Review -mobilegeeks

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And now for something completely different….
The following article provides a review of an Apple iPhone knock-off. Those of you into tech may find the detailed analysis of the phone interesting. From a Poli-Sci/IR perspective, it is more interesting in terms of the discussion of China’s tech industry. There are interesting issues about copyright raised, as well the spread of technology to the developing world. Big tech companies like Samsung, ASUS, Toshiba etc… often have different products and different pricing strategies for developing world markets. The article also makes a couple of interesting points about how this ‘grey’ market is starting to influence the mainstream market for tech products, both in terms of driving prices down and in terms of innovation. So, even if you are not in the market for a cheap phone, there is actually a lot to think about in this article.

http://www.mobilegeeks.com/iphone-5s-clone-full-review/