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Europe is history

NYT: Japan needs leadership stability. The Daily Beast: China is still dependent on the US. FT: Treat economists with a dose of skepticism.

To Obama, Europe is history

Columnist Roger Cohen writes in the New York Times that America’s strategic priorities have been “transformed” as nations in the Middle East have become of greater importance to the United States than any in Europe. He argues that President Barack Obama should stop neglecting Europe.

QUOTE: Europe, for the first time in hundreds of years, has become a strategic backwater. Europe is history.

Vietnam seeks a new economic model

Anh Le Tran, a professor at Lasell College in Massachusetts, writes in the Asia Times that Vietnam needs a new economic model to support its growth. Vietnam should crack down on corruption and build new institutions that increase the nation’s competitiveness.

QUOTE: An effective strategy to promote more sustainable growth will necessarily need to improve government transparency, reduce red tape, close legal loopholes, make public officials at all levels accountable for their decisions, and facilitate public participation in the policy-making process.

Japan needs leadership stability

An editorial in the New York Times argues that Japan’s frequent leadership changes prevent any administration from effectively implementing policies. It argues that whoever becomes the new party chief of the Democratic Party of Japan should focus on improving the economy and stimulating domestic demand.

QUOTE: Once the choice is made, we hope the next prime minister is around long enough to enact coherent economic and diplomatic policies. Revolving-door leaders with constantly shifting agendas are not in Japan’s interest — or the rest of the world’s.

China is still dependent on the US columnist Gordon G. Chang writes in the Daily Beast that China’s leadership recognizes that it is still highly dependent on the United States and its market. This had caused China to accede to American pressure recently.

QUOTE: The Chinese, struggling to keep their economy moving forward, are more dependent on us than we are on them. And that means what everyone knows about China—that Beijing holds all the cards—is just a myth. That’s why Hu Jintao is in Washington at this moment.

Treat economists with a dose of skepticism

Columnist Gideon Rachman writes in the Financial Times that economists’ claims must be treated with more skepticism. He argues that economics is not a science and should not be used to predict the future. Instead, economists should take a lesson from historians.

QUOTE: Historians know that no big question is ever definitively settled. They know that every big and interesting topic will be revisited, revised and examined from new angles. Each generation will reinterpret the past and deliver its own verdict.

Europe is divided along new lines

Columnist Anne Applebaum writes in the Washington Post that Europe is no longer divided into an East and West, but a North and South. The so-called North contains the budget hawks like Germany, and the so-called South contains those whose leaders have been unable to balance their national budgets and whose voters have not approved of austerity measures like Greece.

QUOTE: Much of the South is very rich. But in the North, private wealth has grown more or less in tandem with the public sector. Private wealth and public squalor are more typical of the South.

Why has the US income gap widened?

Timothy Noah explores in Slate income inequality in the United States. He argues that America has undergone a great social and economic shift in which the wealthiest 1 percent of the population now controls 24 percent of the nation’s income.

QUOTE: Economically speaking, the richest nation on earth is starting to resemble a banana republic. The main difference is that the United States is big enough to maintain geographic distance between the villa-dweller and the beggar.

Obama and the Democrats used the recession for political gain

An editorial in the Wall Street Journal argues that this is the first time in American history that the government has spent so much in an effort to boost the economy and achieved such dismal results. It argues that Obama’s biggest problem is political as he has shown an aversion to tax cuts and a propensity for ineffective government spending.

QUOTE: Democrats purposely used the recession as a political opening to redistribute income, reverse the free-market reforms of the Reagan era, and put government at the commanding heights of economic decision-making.

North Korean meeting likely to include important announcement

Staff writer Jayshree Bajoria writes on that a major gathering of North Korean officials this week is likely to include an announcement that Kim Jong Il’s son will be given an important post and therefore is likely to succeed his father.

QUOTE: The meeting comes amid speculation on the resumption of the stalled Six Party Talks aimed at denuclearizing North Korea.

An American recovery is dependent on a more skilled workforce

Daniel Gros, director of the Centre for European Policy Studies, writes on Project Syndicate that the United States must undergo structural changes to improve its economy. He argues that it will be difficult to boost American exports because doing so requires a more skilled workforce than the country currently has.

QUOTE: Post-bubble economies thus face a fundamental mismatch between the skills available in the existing work force and the requirements of a modern export-oriented manufacturing sector.