There is building anger at home and abroad. We need a new big tent

I had this on Labour Uncut last week.

“Today my work is global,” Tony Blair reminded us in his inaugural Philip Gould Lecture. Even when Blair was a mere domestic politician, the forces that he grappled with, as he often noted, were global. Policy Network, the international think-tank, sees these forces as having contributed toward 5-75-20 societies.



Without the EU, we’re just Little England to Beijing and Delhi

I had this on Comment is Free earlier this year.

Brussels cannot be bypassed via Beijing, contrary to the bullish claims of the Daily Express today. Instead, the quickest route to Beijing continues to run through Brussels. While the Express is right to celebrate trade figures that show increasing UK trade with non-EU states, it is wrong to infer from this that the EU is irrelevant to the UK’s future prosperity.



Hope lies with the (eastern) proles

I had this on Labour Uncut last year:

In the summer between the Arab Spring and the European Autumn, my wife and I were naturally delighted about the birth of our first child, Stanley, which helped push the world’s population over 7 billion.



Wanted: leadership in the western world

I had this on Labour Uncut recently.

Francis Fukuyama is best known for confusing the period between the falls of the Berlin Wall and Lehman Brothers with the end of history. This was to be defined by the global triumph of liberal democracy and market economies. He recently conceded:



The globalised middle: social justice is key to more easing, less squeezing

I had this on Labour Uncut last week.

Tony Blair made adaptation to globalisation a Labour leitmotif. Yet the existence of the “squeezed middle” is a symptom that he did not finish the job. Today’s globalisation is more about the rise of Asia than was the case when Blair became party leader. Easing the squeezing requires better adaptation to this Asian age.



Seeing the future in the FT

I noticed a trend flicking through the FT last month. I think the particular copy of the FT that I flicked through was published on 19 September. I noticed the following:

Emerging market targeted M&A volume is up by more than two-thirds to $575.7bn this year, while European volume has risen by barely 20 percent to $550.2bn. The latest Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI) not only finds that New York has closed in on London as the world’s leading financial centre but that Hong Kong has markedly closed in on both cities since March 2009. Beijing’s attempts to internationalise the use of the renminbi and rival the US dollar (to say nothing of the euro or pound) have taken a significant step forward through the purchase by Malaysia’s central bank of renminbi-denominated bonds for its reserves.



Asia’s rise, British business and Mrs Duffy

HSBC commissioned the Futures Company to report on the key considerations for European business of Asia’s rise. The final product,  Looking East: The Changing Face of World Business, tells a daunting story. Globalisation has entered a new stage and the sooner its lessons are absorbed by European businesses, politicians and policy-makers the better.

Globalisation brings opportunities and threats. While this observation has become cliché, it remains true. But the nature of these opportunities and threats is rapidly changing. Failing to keep pace with these changes threatens the health not just of European business but also European society. Mrs Duffy confronted Gordon Brown with some of the insecurities generated by globalisation. These insecurities may become more visceral if the next stage of globalisation is not properly responded to.



Yes, we still can (but leadership and disciplined support are needed)

The striking thing about the most powerful person in the world, as he approaches one year in office, is how, err, lacking in power he appears.

Disappointed and, according to Mark Lynas, insulted by the Chinese in Copenhagen.  A Health Care Bill that isn’t yet on the statute; is much delayed on his original timetable; and, by his own admission, is only “nine-tenths of a loaf” – some would say that half a loaf is nearer the mark and it comes with lashings of pork barrel whatever way you look at it. An Afghan strategy that even he doesn’t seem wholly convinced by and the backdrop to which Andrew Sullivan commented upon by saying:



Where will our exports come from?

Given today’s high-profile CBI conference, it seems an opportune moment to ask a fundamental question about the British economy which follows from two basic facts about the current economic situation. These facts are these: First, we have a weak pound, which makes British exports relatively more competitive. Second, the fabled BRIC economies are showing their resilience by leading the charge towards global economic recovery. So, the basic question: How can the British economy take advantage of the weak pound and enjoy a British economic recovery based on strong export growth? What can we produce that the likes of Brazil, Russia, India and China, as well as the developed world economies, want?

The rise of the BRICs means that we need to give new consideration to where exactly our comparative advantage now lies. But the latest figures suggest that the British retain more of an appetite for spending than talents for producing. This brings welcome reassurance that British consumers now feel confident enough to start spending again, but suggests that, in spite of the pick-up which the weak pound provides, we seem set to return to the habits which have had us be amongst the surplus economies in the global imbalances that have been one of the characteristics of recent years. 



Wake up and smell the coffee, Europe

 I have previously asked: Must Europe wither? And now one of the most articulate and leading pro-European voices in the UK, Charles Grant, has had cause to ask: Is Europe doomed to fail as a power? Today seems a particularly sobering day for Europeans to reflect on such questions as the US and China this morning began a two-day “Strategic and Economic Dialogue” in Washington DC, led by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and their Chinese counterparts. This illustrates the “obvious danger” identified by Philip Stephens “that the US and China will bypass Europe by creating a G2”. The New Republic ask: “Which China will be sitting across the table from Clinton and Geithner today?” But Europe is an after thought and tomorrow it may be even more so. Europe needs to much more urgently wake up and smell the coffee than the scant coverage of these debates in the mainstream of European media suggests.



China and contested modernity

I think I am noticing something of a theme in the Economist of late. On 28 May they noted:

“How times change. When George Bush’s treasury secretaries first visited China, Wall Street was booming, America’s economy was growing and the president’s emissaries routinely lectured their Chinese hosts on the need for freer financial markets and a more flexible yuan. But as Tim Geithner, the current treasury secretary, prepares to make his maiden trip to Beijing on May 31st, Wall Street is synonymous with greed and failure, America’s economy is on its knees and it is the Chinese who have been doing the lecturing. With America’s budget deficit soaring and the Fed’s printing presses running at full speed, China is complaining loudly of the risks that inflation and depreciation pose to its huge stash of dollars, and arguing for an alternative to the greenback as the world’s reserve currency”.



Must Europe wither?

The point of Roger Casale, which I highlighted in my last post, seems all the stronger in light of an observation made by Martin Wolf today.

“The relationship between the US and China will become more central, with India waiting in the wings. The relative economic weight and power of the Asian giants seems sure to rise. Europe, meanwhile, is not having a good crisis. Its economy and financial system have proved far more vulnerable than many expected. Yet how far a set of refurbished and rebalanced institutions for international co-operation will reflect the new realities is, as yet, unknown”.


Page 1 of 212