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BlackRock’s Aladdin keeps its eyes on almost 7% of the world’s $225 trillion of financial assets. This is unprecedented—and it means flaws in the system could matter to more than just BlackRock, its investors and its customers. If that much money is being managed by people who all think with the same tools, it may be managed by people all predisposed to the same mistakes. If models are always wrong, as BlackRock posits, it should perhaps be a little worried that so many people are using the ones it offers.
U.S. commercial banks and their affiliates have always faced limitations on the business they are allowed to undertake, in order to reduce the risk of business disasters that would endanger their ability to fulfill their critical role at the heart of the economic system, but we do not favor any of the major proposals for further structural divisions between commercial banking and securities and derivatives activities.
Population growth, urbanisation and climate change are presenting significant challenges for cities now and into the future. Resilient cities can pick themselves up after a disaster and rebuild sustainably where necessary. Resilience to climate change will become even more important in the future. Compounding the natural hazard risk is the fact that cities are getting bigger, with denser populations and more assets at risk.
When it comes to a mass rebellion against the perpetrators of global destruction, we can see a glimmer of the coming upheaval in events of the present moment. Sooner or later, government leaders are likely to face multiple eruptions of mass public anger and may, in the end, be forced to make radical adjustments in energy policy or risk being swept aside.
EPA does not have a reliable system, such as an automated data system, to track key information related to conditional registrations of pesticides, including whether companies have submitted additional data within required time frames. As a result, pesticides with conditional registrations could be marketed for years without EPA’s receipt and review of these data.
The Global Risks Report 2013 analyses 50 global risks in terms of impact, likelihood and interconnections, based on a survey of over 1000 experts from industry, government and academia. This year’s findings show that the world is more at risk as persistent economic weakness saps our ability to tackle environmental challenges.
As they go about their business of producing most of the world’s wealth, novelty and human interaction, cities also produce a vast amount of data. The people who run cities are ever more keen on putting those data to work. Hardly a week passes without a mayor somewhere in the world unveiling a “smart-city” project—often at one of the many conferences hailing the concept.
Novelist John Lancaster, given access to the Snowden Files, discusses his impressions. At a moment of austerity and with a general sense that our state’s ability to guarantee prosperity for its citizens is in retreat, that same state is about to make the biggest advance ever in its security powers. Our spies and security services can, for the first time, monitor everything about us, and they can do so with a few clicks of a mouse and – to placate the lawyers – a drop-down menu of justifications. Looking at the GCHQ papers, it is clear that there is an ambition to get access to everything digital. And yet nobody, at least in Britain, seems to care. Snowden’s revelations are not just interesting or important but vital, because the state is about to get powers that no state has ever had, and we need to have a public debate about those powers and what their limits are to be.
Maritime disputes in Eastern Asia have been sending odd ripples of excitement through Western Europe for the past few years. Experts and policymakers claim that Europe cannot stay aloof. Maritime disputes in the East are, to be sure, a source of much uncertainty, and could escalate. But is this a reason for Europe to dive into the play pool of the Pacific powers? This question needs to be examined through a broad geopolitical prism.
It’s easy to be depressed about America these days. We’ve got messes aplenty abroad and the Republican-dominated House of Representatives is totally paralyzed. Fortunately, there is another, still “exceptional,” American reality out there. It’s best found at the research centers of any global American company.
The culmination of faux regulation, debt ceiling debates, derivatives growth and the ever-expanding Federal Reserve books will provide lots of volatility for which the White House will be caught unprepared. We need banking reform ala Glass-Steagall. Anything less is an exercise in political posturing and regulatory futility.
Occasionally, the object of speculation has been one of those fundamental technological innovations that eventually transforms the economy. In these cases, the prospects of short-term financial gain from riding a bubble mobilizes far more investor capital than prudent professional investors would otherwise dole out.
After service as a Royal Marine and as an intelligence officer for the UK security services, Paddy Ashdown was a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1983 to 2001, and leader of the Liberal Democrats from 1988 until 1999; later he was the international High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina from 2002 to 2006.
I worry that because of the excess hype, 3D printing will soon suffer the same backlash as solar energy and electric cars. We are only in the early stages of 3D printing. The curve is flat for the foreseeable future. We are about to see a renaissance in design. So let’s be excited, but adjust our expectations – the large-scale manufacturing revolution will happen only after we become bitterly disappointed.
Many Europeans believe that China, one of the EU’s ten so-called strategic partners, behaves more like a competitor. And many Chinese, for whom the EU is just one of more than 70 strategic partners, complain that the EU’s policy toward China is more commercial than strategic. The time has come for the world’s largest developing country and largest bloc of developed countries to define and deepen their strategic partnership.
The less free-market thinkers are regulated, the less they seem to care about others. They ignore the fact that America’s most productive eras were driven by progressive taxes that funded entrepreneurship in the middle class. And they fail to see the deficiencies in a system that relies solely on profit-making to the exclusion of social responsibility.
What, exactly, will bring us back to full employment? We certainly can’t count on fiscal policy, nor on the natural recuperative powers of the private sector, nor on the outrage of voters. Someday perhaps something will turn up that finally gets us back to full employment – but the last time we were in this kind of situation, the thing that turned up was World War II.
Viewed in isolation, the Supreme Court term that just ended had elements of modesty, but Chief Justice Roberts is a canny strategist with a tough side whose methodical approach has allowed him to establish a robustly conservative record. When the court struck down a part of the Voting Rights Act, Roberts harvested seeds he had planted four years before.
In an opinion brimming with a self-confidence that he hides behind a cloak of judicial minimalism, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for a conservative Supreme Court majority in Shelby County v. Holder, cripples Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The decision is characteristic of a pattern in the Roberts court, in which the conservative justices tee up major constitutional issues for dramatic reversal.
The idea of animating the inanimate, of compelling the physical world to do our bidding, has been a staple of science fiction for half a century or more. But someday soon we’ll have houses that can act with genuine intelligence that will enrich our lives far more than any missile launcher ever could.
Smart machines are evolving at breakneck speed and have reached a new social frontier. There are concerns that modern technologies will widen inequality, increase social exclusion and provoke a backlash. Policymakers need to think as hard about managing the current wave of disruptive innovation as technologists are thinking about turbocharging it.
Far from being a passive victim, the United States has fostered as rich a tradition of illicit trade as any other country in the world. Since its founding, the United States has had an intimate relationship with clandestine commerce, and contraband capitalism was integral to the rise of the U.S. economy.
The potential risks of genetically modified fish escaping into the wild have been highlighted in a new study. The hybrid fish that resulted from the study out-compete both GM salmon and wild salmon. The study highlights the potential ecological consequences of genetically modified fish getting into the wild.
The combination of a strong, rising China and economic stagnation in Europe and America is making the West increasingly uncomfortable. By buying companies, exploiting natural resources, building infrastructure and giving loans all over the world, China is pursuing a soft but unstoppable form of economic domination.
The fact that the economy is “steadily healing” back to the old economy is the problem, not the solution. That economy featured growing inequality and a declining middle class. It was built on debt and speculative bubbles. Trade deficits hit new records as multinational companies shipped good jobs abroad.
Investment bankers are a bright and resourceful lot. Some of the best minds of this generation are in search of the next big innovation in credit markets or risk management that will bring back the heady days before the financial crisis. But the industry’s voyage back to profitability will probably be slow, and not all banks will make it. Paradoxically, stricter regulation intended to tame banks that were thought too big to fail is leading to the creation of even bigger and more systemically important institutions.
Banking across the rich world expanded prodigiously between 1963 and the financial crisis in 2008. Since the crisis, returns have collapsed. This environment will create both winners and losers. The main beneficiaries are likely to be a handful of very big, global banks that, in the main, are able to reap the benefits of scale and combine investment banking and trading with corporate banking.
Niall Ferguson is Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a Senior Research Fellow at Jesus College, Oxford. His books include Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire, The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West, and The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World.
The failure to make much progress at the UN Climate Change Conference in Doha, Qatar this winter was yet another reminder that the world might soon face extreme climate shifts. In response, it is becoming increasingly likely that governments will adopt risky strategies, known as “geoengineering,” to rapidly cool the planet.
The $85 billion in federal budget cuts known as sequestration are beginning to be felt far from the nation’s capital, some programs are coping, some are struggling and others appear to be out of luck. While not everyone is feeling the pain, the good-news stories are eclipsed by the bad. At issue for many programs is politics — specifically the politics of President Obama’s health care law.
Cheap shale gas is translating into cheap electricity. Economists at Citigroup and UBS predict that the shale gale will lift America’s GDP growth by half a percentage point a year for the next few years. Indeed, cheap energy is cited as one factor by those who predict a manufacturing renaissance in America.
America puts more into R&D than any other country, yet as a share of GDP its expenditure now ranks only ninth in the world. America has dropped in the ranking because other countries are doing so much more. Government cash pays for over half of America’s basic research, and tends to produce patents of higher quality research undertaken by business.
America’s 50 states are competing to find the best formula for regulation and taxes and introducing sweeping reforms to that end. These changes will become systematic only if promoted at the federal level.
To run his coal trains, Buffet needs to seize land from a bunch of Montana cowboys. The coal industry will ignore global warming. But a federal agency charged with weighing the environmental consequences of a coal-carrying railroad should do better. So should America’s most admired investor.
Following the global financial crisis of 2008, China’s authorities took a number of steps to internationalize the use of the Chinese currency, the renminbi. This paper contends that the purposes of the renminbi internationalization program are mainly tied to domestic development objectives, namely the gradual opening of the capital account and liberalization of the domestic financial system.
Small businesses occupy an iconic place in American public policy debates. Numerous and diverse public policies subsidize small businesses, and political leaders of both parties routinely voice their support for the sector. At least part of this support is based on the notion that a healthy small business sector leads to innovation, jobs, and a healthy overall economy.
As politicians in Washington focus on reining in America’s worrisome deficit, they tend to have attitudes of doom and gloom. They convey fears of shortchanging future generations, overtaxing workers, depriving the needy, killing the fragile economic recovery and failing to make crucial investments.
Many analysts predict that climate change and development in high-risk zones will only increase those costs as sea levels rise and weather becomes more extreme. So there’s plenty of incentive to prevent and reduce losses, and a massive opportunity for those with ideas of how to go about doing so.
Sixteen years ago a book by Clayton Christensen changed business thinking forever. The Innovator’s Dilemma looked at industries and exposed a surprising phenomenon: When big companies fail, it’s often not because they do something wrong but because they do everything right.
William McDonough is a globally recognized leader in sustainable development. Trained as an architect, McDonough’s interests and influence range widely, and he works at scales from the global to the molecular. McDonough received the Presidential Award for Sustainable Development, and the first U.S. EPA Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award.
Jeffrey D. Sachs is the Director of The Earth Institute, Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University. He is Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the Millennium Development Goals.
Of the many injustices that permeate America’s byzantine tax code, few are as outrageous as the tax rate on “carried interest” — the profits made by private equity and hedge fund managers, as well as venture capitalists and partners in real estate investment trusts. This huge tax benefit enriches an already privileged sliver of financiers and violates basic standards of fairness and common sense.
In November 2012, the Chinese Communist Party held its 18th National Congress. Some in China and the West have gone so far as to predict the demise of the one-party state, which they allege cannot survive if leading politicians stop delivering economic miracles. Such pessimism is misplaced; in the next decade, China will continue to rise, not fade.
Commentators are prone to seeing the challenges of the moment in unnecessarily apocalyptic terms, yet American democracy is more dysfunctional and commands less authority than ever — and it has fewer levers to pull in a globalized economy. This time, the pessimists might be right.
The consequences of our current patent crisis reverberate far beyond Silicon Valley. What can’t be measured are the products that are never built—taking on even bogus patents is too much of a hurdle for some innovators. Patents were meant to encourage innovation, but lately they are being used as a weapon to stop it.
Amnesty International works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied. As the world’s largest grassroots human rights organization, it investigates and exposes abuses, educates the public, and helps transform societies to create a safer, more just world.
The Government Accountability Office provides public access to its wide-ranging research related to Economic Development. Covered topics include Medicaid, Disaster Recovery, Tax Policy and Administration, Entrepreneurial Assistance, Commerce, and Catastrophic Planning.