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Questions for North Korea

FT: China’s premier is worried. WashPost: Wal-Mart Moms have not given up on Obama. WSJ: A new way to handle China’s exchange-rate policy.

China’s premier worries about his nation’s future

Columnist Martin Wolf writes in the Financial Times that Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is right to worry about China’s economic future. It’s GDP per capita is still less than a fifth of that of the United States.

QUOTE: The Chinese economy of two decades from now will have to be vastly less investment-driven than the one of today. How smoothly and how soon will it get there? These are huge questions.

North Korea begins to grasp greater economic freedom

Journalist Malcolm Moore analyzes in the Daily Telegraph what will happen after North Korea’s Kim Jong-il passes power along, most likely, to his son. Moore writes that Kim Jong-il’s cult status is losing ground as more North Koreans become exposed to other ideas. He argues that the government is beginning to lose its tight grip on power, but capitalist ways might save the country from spiraling out of control.

QUOTE: There are signs that the Hermit Kingdom is beginning to grasp greater economic freedom. With the state sector grinding to a halt for lack of electricity, black markets have sprung up across the country.

Tea Partiers set Republican Party up for failure

Peter Beinart writes in the Daily Beast that the Tea Partiers are taking over the Republican Party and pushing it further to the extreme right-wing. He argues that this will have disastrous effects on the party in the 2012 presidential election.

QUOTE: When the dust from this massive recession settles, it will be clear that America is not moving right; it is moving left because America’s fastest-growing demographic groups reside on the center-left.

Asia lacks big global brands

Asia regional correspondent Kevin Brown writes in the Financial Times that despite the Asia Pacific’s robust economy and strong companies, it has few big global brands.

QUOTE: The continent that accounts for nearly 30 per cent of the world economy and 60 per cent of its population boasts fewer global brands than Germany, which has 10.

Wal-Mart Moms have not given up on Obama

Columnist Ruth Marcus writes in the Washington Post that so-called Wal-Mart Moms, middle class women with families, view Congressmen as political elitists. Yet while they express frustration with President Obama, they acknowledge the difficult political and economic situation he finds himself in.

QUOTE: It's easy to forget, amid the angry clamor of the Tea Partyers and the carping of the disappointed left, that Obama's approval ratings remain relatively strong; they are higher at this point than Bill Clinton's and Ronald Reagan's were at the same point in their presidencies.

A new way to handle China’s exchange-rate policy

Daniel Gros, director of the Center for European Policy Studies, writes in the Wall Street Journal that the United States should deal with China’s currency controversy by insisting that it will only allow China to buy its public debt if China likewise allows foreigners to buy its assets.

QUOTE: Washington might waver because it relies heavily upon foreign investment to finance its fiscal deficit. But that is why a reciprocity requirement would be the ultimate test of America's commitment to its stated economic ends.

Obama’s spending sees no end

Michael Boskin, professor of economics at Stanford University, writes in Project Syndicate that President Obama talked about cutting the nation’s fiscal deficit, but instead, he continues to propose new spending measures. There has been a backlash to this big spending mentality by the American public.

QUOTE: Who will now counsel Obama that piling on additional deficits and debt to fund a vast expansion of spending is bad economics, that the costs are likely to far outweigh the benefits, and that raising taxes will do permanent long-term damage to the economy?

Power struggles likely to define North Korea’s future

Journalist Donald Kirk writes in the Asia Times that there is much uncertainty surrounding the upcoming conference of North Korea’s political elite. Kirk argues that while Kim Jong-il is alive, not much in the country may change. But once he passes, there is likely to be deep power struggles between members of the leader’s family and generals.

QUOTE: How long, though, will military leaders put up with such authority in the hands of people with no military background?

Self-interested nations stop caring about international crises

Assistant editor Simon Tisdall writes in the Guardian that powerful nations like the United States and England have stopped trying to help conflict areas deal with their crises. In places like Kashmir and Myanmar, the international community’s conflict-resolution efforts have stalled, stopped or sometimes never began.

QUOTE: Perhaps, more than anything, it is the product of a new, narrow, self-serving national self-interestedness – a sort of Tea Party philosophy writ large in which charity begins at home, the weak go to the wall, and the devil take the hindmost. Whatever the reason, it's all very short-sighted, and dangerous, too.

China shows how to get things done

Columnist Thomas Friedman writes in the New York Times that the United States is not showing the kind of unity and focus that China has because its political leaders have been too concerned with maintaining or grabbing power.

QUOTE: For democracy to be effective and deliver the policies and infrastructure our societies need requires the political center to be focused, united and energized. That means electing candidates who will do what is right for the country not just for their ideological wing or whoever comes with the biggest bag of money.