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Beware of foreigners

China Post: Beijing pursues a divide and conquer strategy in East Asia. Times of India: Wal-Mart stores in India can deliver what monsoon-dependent farmers can’t: reliable food. Hindustan Times: proposed US limits on guest workers is an election year ploy.


The Eurozone crisis was exaggerated

Paul Taylor writes in Reuters that the eurozone has battled back from the darkest days of debt crisis in June, when the Euro hit bottom and a breakup of the zone seemed a real possibility. Given the apparent speed of Europe’s return from the brink, however, Taylor questions whether the crisis was overblown from the start.

QUOTE: Unnerved by the European Union's fractious and convoluted policy process and by domestic resistance in Germany, markets underestimated the political will of core governments to do whatever it took to stabilize the euro area.

China pursues a divide and conquer strategy on offshore oil rights

Frank Ching writes in the China Post that China is attempting to create divisions within ASEAN in order to gain greater control over offshore oil and gas resources. China prefers to deal with individual states on territorial rights, isolating them from the greater political weight of ASEAN.

QUOTE: ASEAN members should know that individually they have little strength but, if they stay united, they can be a formidable political force.

Wall Street reform hits the farm

Betsy Jensen, managing editor of Prairie Grains magazine, writes in the New York Times that farmers worry that Wall Street reform will drive speculators out of farm commodities markets, reducing market liquidity. That, in turn, would hurt farmers, who rely on derivatives to protect themselves from volatile commodities prices.

QUOTE: According to the trading commission, about one-third of the long positions in hard red spring wheat futures, which is what I trade on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange, are owned by speculators. If speculators were driven out of the market, it would be as if I’d lost a third of my customers.

Big box retailers key to stable food prices in India

N.D. Batra, a professor of communications at Norwich University in the U.S., argues in the India Times that big box retailers such as Wal-Mart and Carrefour might be the best way to bring India what its recently unreliable monsoon season cannot: stable food prices.

QUOTE:  Eliminating wastage through a modern cold storage and supply chain system that an organised retailer like Walmart can provide will bring down prices by 5 to 7 per cent.

Fresh thinking on the IMF ahead of the G20 summit

Barry Eichengreen, Professor of Economics and Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley, writes in Project Syndicate that the development of new lending facilities will go a long way toward improving the relationship between the IMF and G20 nations. The relationship between the Fund and Asian nations, in particular, soured following the Asian Financial Crisis over a decade ago.

QUOTE: Since the 1997-1998 crisis, Asian governments have sought to keep their distance from the Fund. It is admirable, therefore, that South Korea’s government has taken the lead in discussions about reforming the IMF’s mandate.

Surveillance technology and sectarian peace in Lebanon

Elias Muhanna, a doctoral student in Arabic and Islamic Studies at Harvard, writes in Foreign Policy that Hezbollah claims counter-surveillance technology gave it the ability to tap into Israel’s tracking of murdered Lebanese former Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri. Hezbollah says the murder was orchestrated by Israel; the outcome of the investigation into al-Hariri’s death will determine the future of sectarian relations within Lebanon.

QUOTE: As [Hizbullah secretary-general Sayyid Hassan] Nasrallah himself suggested toward the end of his press conference, the political value of an indictment against Hizbullah members lies less in the potential for implicating senior officials or foreign governments than in the ability to tarnish Hizbullah's image in Lebanon and throughout the Sunni Muslim world.

Guest workers become pawns in U.S. immigration politics

Anirudh Bhattacharyya writes in the Hindustan Times that a Senate effort to limit the number of foreign workers in the U.S. by punishing companies for hiring large numbers of non-Americans is nothing but a populist campaign ploy ahead of November congressional elections.  The proposed limit on H1B guest visas comes as Infosys and Wipro have reduced non-U.S. hires in their U.S. offices.

QUOTE: The bill sponsored by Senator Schumer and Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri primarily seeks to tighten security along the US-Mexico border, and proposes to raise funding for its objectives, including unmanned drones, through penalties on mainly Indian companies.

Fed’s flip flops on the economy

Daniel Indiviglio, staff editor at, writes that the Fed has moved to loosen monetary policy even as it has recently determined that the U.S. economic recovery is much weaker than it stated two months ago. The move has provoked new concerns that a deflationary cycle could ensue.

QUOTE: The Fed made clear that it still doesn't believe deflation is a problem, which would have been significant enough news in most months. But the committee also acknowledged that the labor market recovery appears to have stalled and took some modest action to try to get the economy moving again.

Time for Obama to temper ambitions

With President Obama likely facing a political backlash in November elections, columnist Michael Gerson writes in the Washington Post that it may be time to limit reform ambitions and focus on deficit reduction through spending cuts. Such tempering of ambition, Gerson argues, served Bill Clinton well during his term as president.

QUOTE: Obama's liberalism has provoked an intense national debate on the role and size of government, making him a deeply polarizing figure -- an impression, once created, that is hard to reverse.

Defending Birthright Citizenship

Linda Chavez, chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity, writes in the Wall Street Journal that birthright citizenship, provided for in the 14th Amendment and now under attack in the Senate, has been essential to shaping U.S. society and should be protected. 

QUOTE: Proponents of repeal argue that the 14th Amendment was passed after the Civil War to guarantee citizenship to freed slaves, and that it was never intended to grant rights to the offspring of illegal aliens. But this argument is non sequitur.