On the last day of my 8-days long trip to Tehran in the last week of November, the foreign exchange rates in the market dropped below the support level of 120,000 rials to a dollar as foreign currency rates continued to decline in the open market. US Dollar was traded between 112,000 to 118,000, while Euro was traded at 1370,000 rials and Dirham at 33,000, both down from the previous week.
Now is not a good time to be a climate-change denier like US President Donald Trump, given all the recent evidence that the atmosphere is warming faster than expected. On the Friday after Thanksgiving, for example, Trump’s own government published a major report warning that unchecked climate change will impose massive economic and human costs on the United States. And that came on the heels of an alarming study by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that painted a dire picture of Earth’s near future.
Nearly 330 million Americans are governed by Donald Trump. Brazil, with 210 million people, has a newly-elected populist government. Nearly 170 million Europeans live under governments with at least one populist in the cabinet. Add the Philippines, with more than 100 million people, and Turkey, with nearly 80 million. All told, at least one billion people are now being ruled by populists of one sort or another.
Next May’s European Parliament election is likely to be haunted by Europe’s inner demons, from the clash with Italy’s populist government over its budget to the xenophobic front that has formed in the Visegrád countries. The crisis of the traditional centrist parties, which have been essential to building and maintaining consensus in the European Union – even as they have struggled to implement needed reforms – is also far from resolved. But if, as current indicators suggest, Europe is facing an economic slowdown, the pre-election discourse could change significantly.
Brazil’s new foreign minister, Ernesto Araújo, is on record as believing that climate change is a plot launched by “cultural Marxists” to stifle Western economies. These nefarious forces’ environmentalist “dogma has been used to justify increasing the regulatory power of states over the economy.”
LONDON – In Europe, hardly anyone has a good word to say about Italy’s upstart ruling coalition, which comprises the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) and the nationalist League party. The only disagreement is between those who want to penalize Italy immediately for defying eurozone budget rules and those who are willing to delay punishment, or at least administer it more slowly. But here’s an idea: Why not eschew punishment altogether and give Italy’s government a chance?
Over the past 15 years, China has fueled one of the most dramatic and geographically far-reaching surges in official peacetime lending in history. More than one hundred predominantly low-income countries have taken out Chinese loans to finance infrastructure projects, expand their productive capacity in mining or other primary commodities, or support government spending in general.
When the Paris climate agreement was concluded in December 2015, almost all the world’s countries committed to limit global warming to well below 2° Celsius relative to pre-industrial levels, and have submitted “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions” (INDCs) describing how they will either contain or reduce emissions over the next decade. Global investment in renewable power now far exceeds investment in fossil fuel plants; battery costs are falling, and electric vehicle sales rising; and even in President Donald Trump’s America, coal-fired power stations continue to close.
After 95 consecutive months of job growth, the United States unemployment rate has fallen to 3.7%, its lowest point since 1969. Yet wage growth remains stubbornly slow. In fact, after adjusting for inflation, the median weekly earnings of full-time workers are about the same as they were in 1979. In a related indicator of stress on American workers, the number of homeless people in the US actually rose in 2017 – the first increase since 2010 – partly driven by skyrocketing rents and housing prices.
“Today it is a sin to run a current-account deficit, and that is crazy,” lamented Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam at the annual gathering of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank in Bali this month. Ministers who could boast of their balanced current accounts, while officials from deficit countries were treated like reprobates.
Modi government's junior foreign minister MJ Akbar quits facing sexual harassment allegations from 36 women so far. PM Modi went by Ajit Doval's advice to seek ex-editor's exit and the mounting charges swung decision for sure. And this happens less than 24 hours short of the scheduled hearing of Akbar’s defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani by a magistrate’s court at Patiala House.
Italy’s coalition government, comprising the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) and the far-right League party, made headlines recently for its new draft budget, which violates European Union rules. But this is hardly the first Italian government to make over-the-top promises and squander public money to pay for them. In fact, when all is said and done, Italy’s new populism is not new at all.
Modern Russia has never had a proper pension system. It inherited from the Soviet Union both very low retirement ages – 55 for women and 60 for men – and paltry resources to fund state pensions. But the recent decision of President Vladimir Putin and the Duma (parliament) to raise the retirement age will not fix the problem – and may create more serious problems than it solves.
LONDON – Italy’s government has approved a draft budget that would fund its expensive election promises by violating European Union fiscal rules for at least the next three years. With that, the populist coalition – comprising the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) and the far-right League party – has seemingly confirmed fears of populist-fueled instability in Europe.