There is an undercurrent in the story of the BRICS in the cultural and political backdrop to international relations that runs deeper than the who-is-up-who-is-down tale of what were once called “emerging markets.” Like all economies, they are up one day, down the next. There is more at stake in these countries than the strength of their markets; the countries’ collective psychology, “national will,” perception, including the self-perception, of social success all contribute to the cultural and political backdrop the BRICS are faced with.
With Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meeting with U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert last month to discuss maritime security, it was certainly expected that this issue would dominate his Keynote Address at the 13th annual IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. A tense stage was set: with regional pressure continuing to mount in Chinese oil drilling activity off the coast of the Parcel Islands, a standoff between Chinese and Vietnamese ships had begun. Additionally, with Chinese and Japanese jets flying in the airspace over the East China Sea, a heated international conflict was well underway.
As world leaders met on a global stage for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January, it was not hard to notice that something was missing. Women make up half of our planet's population, yet this year only 15 percent of the attendees at one of the world's most important gatherings of decision makers and influencers were female.
As the world still struggles with the aftershocks of a global financial crisis and a global rise of protests, it is ever more apparent that global leaders are struggling to deal with effectively addressing the numerous crises coming from all directions. Thierry de Montbrial argues that this is a systemic problem, brought about by weak systems still struggling to find their footing after the double-whammy of economic and political crises spreading throughout our globalized world. We have witnessed, in essence, a live demonstration of the butterfly effect.
In late 2013, the World Economic Forum published its annual Outlook on the Global Agenda. The report provides insight on the global challenges of the upcoming 12 to 18 months. By collecting views and opinions from more than 1,500 global experts of business, government, academia, and civil society, the report offers a comprehensive overview of the world, the most pressing issues shaping our societies, and anticipates the changes to come.
Saudi Arabia’s decision to turn down a coveted seat on the United Nation’s Security Council appears curiously at odds with the value it places on status. For years, however, the Kingdom has maintained a foreign policy that is ambivalent and remains mysteriously apathetic on a number of regional and international issues. Whatever the various factors that informed its decision, the move could be misinterpreted as a reluctance to be actively involved in global affairs.
The G20 mainly deals with the global imbalances through focusing on macroeconomic and financial stability, stimulating growth and job creation. The global business community gives special importance to the G20 governments’ policy coordination efforts, and in the last 5 years, all policy efforts were focused on the global financial crisis. Today we should contemplate a new question: If there will be no crisis agenda in the upcoming period, what should be the new agenda items of the G20? Even if there is no crisis agenda in the medium term, global imbalances will be here to stay. Moreover, enhanced globalization and rising interdependencies require enhanced policy coordination tools. So it is obvious that the G20 platform will need to last in the long term.
“There isn’t a word for ‘entrepreneur’ in Colombia. The closest term they have is probably ‘drug lord,’” Judy Robinette quipped to an audience of international business women in Salt Lake City while discussing her work with the World Bank building a culture of entrepreneurship in Colombia.
Her facetious statement has some tough truths behind it. Latin America has lagged behind on the global stage for much of the past century, and was passed by during the economic boom years before the Great Recession by the likes of China and India. But tough times and the creative disruption—or destruction—of all the old economic models are clearing the way to another chance for Latin America. It will not come easily, though.
Each year, the World Economic Forum hosts a regional summit to discuss at the highest levels the issues Latin America faces. The 2013 World Economic Forum on Latin America came at a moment as growing fears over China’s slowing economy and frustrations over the rising costs of doing business (both economic and social) are finally convincing some manufacturers to transfer their production contracts to factories in their own hemisphere.
G8 leaders can keep the momentum of global financial reform rolling.
In April 2013, it was announced that the Commodities Future Trading Commission (CFTC) is investigating Wall Street banks and the London-based firm ICAP, the world’s largest broker of interest rate swaps, for what has been called the twin brother to the LIBOR interest rate-fixing scandal of 2012. Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone detailed how up to 15 megabanks, including Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Barclays, UBS, and the Royal Bank of Scotland may have been colluding with a small group of brokers at ICAP to manipulate the ISDAfix number used to calculate the prices of interest rates swaps used for debt-management by big cities, sovereign governments, and major corporations. Perhaps, as a U.S. federal judge said in his ruling dismissing a class action lawsuit against the banks for LIBOR-related offenses, it was our own fault for thinking banks were in a competitive market.
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