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FT: The US faces a worse fiscal crisis than Greece. Daily Beast: Leaked documents reveal flaws in US war policy. Asia Times: ASEAN acts afraid to further isolate Myanmar.
US faces worse fiscal crisis than Greece
Laurence Kotlikoff, Boston University professor of economics, writes in the Financial Times that the United States is in worse fiscal shape than Greece. The United States has liabilities such as Social Security benefits that total 40 times its official national debt.
QUOTE: Wishing won’t fix America’s fiscal mess. The US is one foot away from a deep and permanent economic grave. It is far past time to do meaningful long-term fiscal planning, level with the public, and implement radical reforms that permanently put America’s fiscal house in order.
US-China rivalry distracts from ASEAN meet
Kavi Chongkittavorn writes in the China Post that China does not want international powers like the United States to get involved in its disputes with ASEAN over the South China Sea. The piece argues that ASEAN must not let other powers’ interests dictate its agenda and priority lists.
QUOTE: With such a rapid changing strategic environment, ASEAN has to ascertain it still has the capacity to control the agenda and discussion as well as possessing value added for the members to play an active role in the ongoing regional community building process.
Leaked war documents reveal contradictions in US policy
Leslie H. Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, writes in the Daily Beast that the leaked secret documents on the US war in Afghanistan reveal contradictions in US policy. He argues that the documents make it much more difficult to ignore the fact that Pakistani military intelligence agents have been training and supporting the Afghan insurgency.
QUOTE: The United States is giving “moderate” Pakistanis and the Pakistani military billions of dollars yearly in military and economic aid, which allows Pakistani military intelligence to “secretly” help the Taliban kill Americans in Afghanistan, which will drive America out of Afghanistan and undermine US help for Pakistan.
Greed and cowardice kill US climate change bill
Columnist Paul Krugman writes in the New York Times that “greed and cowardice” prevented the US Congress from passing a climate change bill. Industries that would be hurt by a carbon tax and politicians connected to those industries mounted a disinformation campaign to prevent the bill from passing.
QUOTE: By itself, however, greed wouldn’t have triumphed. It needed the aid of cowardice — above all, the cowardice of politicians who know how big a threat global warming poses, who supported action in the past, but who deserted their posts at the crucial moment.
EU stress tests badly flawed
Columnist Wolfgang Münchau writes in the Financial Times that the European Union’s bank stress tests were flawed because they left out important institutions, their definitions did not provide enough information and there was no provision for the possibility of sovereign default.
QUOTE: The stress tests follow a pattern that has been evident since the outbreak of the acute phase of the financial crisis in September 2008. The EU’s approach to the financial sector has been to apply patchwork fixes – a blanket bail-out, some not very serious recapitalization plans, plus loads of liquidity – rather than solve the problem.
ASEAN appears afraid to further isolate Myanmar
Freelance journalist Larry Jagan writes in the Asia Times that ASEAN lacks significant leverage over Myanmar (Burma) and has not been able to force it to make reforms. ASEAN leaders do not want to isolate Myanmar unless it obtains nuclear weapons.
QUOTE: Many ASEAN countries fear that a further isolated Myanmar would only increase China's presence and influence over the regime. ASEAN must remain engaged with Myanmar because of China's and India's involvement, Singapore's Foreign Minister George Yeo told reporters during the conference.
Stop blaming Obama for America’s high unemployment
James Surowiecki writes in the New Yorker that American businesses are not hiring more workers not because they fear Obama administration regulations and taxes but because they do not need to. The uncertainty among businesses is not related to President Obama’s policies but rather the state of the economy.
QUOTE: The impulse to blame Obama for all this corporate timidity is understandable: aside from the fact that plenty of businesspeople don’t like his policies, it would make things so much easier if a president could jump-start the economy just by making the suits feel better. But the attacks reflect the same blind faith in Obama’s powers that the hero worship of his election campaign did.
Thailand’s elections a welcome sight
An editorial in the Wall Street Journal argues that the parliamentary by-elections held in Bangkok on Sunday reveal that the nation can solve its problems through democratic means. The elections should be replicated nationwide.
QUOTE: While the vote won't change the national balance of power, it served as a timely reminder that Thais can solve their problems at the ballot box—if they're allowed to do so.
American capital strengthens while labor weakens
Robert J. Samuelson writes in the Washington Post that American corporations are recovering well and making back their profits. However, as businesses recover, the American people continue to face joblessness. He argues that capital has gotten stronger while labor has weakened.
QUOTE: What might appeal to individual firms -- paring expenses to maximize profits, hoarding cash to protect against a future financial crisis, waiting to hire until sales improve -- could, if adopted by most companies, sabotage a stronger recovery. If labor is cowed and capital is overcautious, the economy must suffer.
Double-dip downturns are common
Michael Boskin, Stanford University economics professor and Hoover Institution senior fellow, writes in Project Syndicate that countries should not be so fearful about the difficulties their economies face as they struggle to recover because double-dip downturns are common.
QUOTE: History suggests that economies seldom grow out of recessions continuously, without an occasional subsequent decline. Double dips, triple dips, and quadruple dips have been America’s recessionary experience since WWII.