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Currency Clashes

WSJ: Innovative technologies will revolutionize banking in India. GlobalPost: Obama vows to reform global aid practices. Daily Beast: Watch out - another rising star in the Kim family.

Focus on stimulating China’s consumer demand

Stephen S. Roach, a senior fellow at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs at Yale and the non-executive chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia, writes in the New York Times that the United States should not attempt to force China to realign its currency. Instead, it should support policies that help increase Chinese consumption.

QUOTE: Stimulating domestic consumer demand would be a far more direct — and potentially a far less destabilizing — way of reducing saving and trade imbalances than a currency realignment would be.

Innovative technologies will revolutionize banking in India

Rana Kapoor, the founder and chief executive officer of Yes Bank, writes in the Wall Street Journal that new technologies will help revolutionize banking among India’s poor, rural consumers.

QUOTE: Taking the next steps will require a high degree of private-sector entrepreneurship in addition to greater regulatory liberalization.

Obama vows to reform global aid practices

Robert I. Rotberg, director of the Program on Intrastate Conflict at the Harvard Kennedy School and former president of the World Peace Foundation, writes in GlobalPost that President Obama made a bold statement by insisting that global aid and development be judged not by how much money is spent on programs but by the results of such efforts. Rotberg applauds Obama’s demands for “transformational change” in the delivery of aid, but he warns that the president’s speech was short on details.

QUOTE: If Washington can really reform global aid practices, the vulnerable and the deprived throughout the world will benefit enormously. But the task is huge. To follow Obama’s lead will mean assisting only countries with honest leaders and honest governments, and focusing almost exclusively on measurable results.

China’s empowered masses have their own, sometimes threatening, views

Willy Lam, professor of China studies at Japan's Akita International University and adjunct professor of history at Chinese University at Hong Kong, writes in Foreign Policy that the dispute with Japan over the East China Sea reveals that China is not able to control public opinion in its country.

QUOTE: Instead of leading public opinion, these days Chinese leaders are sometimes pushed into uncomfortable stances that reduce their options.

Moving beyond the Tea Party

Columnist Thomas Friedman writes in the New York Times that the Tea Party movement in the United States might impact the upcoming election, but it won’t make much of a mark on the future of the country. This is because it has failed to identify the nation’s true problems or provide any solutions. He argues that a real movement sweeping the country is looking for a leader who can make America successful again.

QUOTE: [This movement] will require a very smart, subtle and focused plan to use our now diminishing resources in the most efficient way possible to get back to our core competency. That is the only long-term solution to our problem — to grow our way out of debt with American workers who are more empowered and educated to compete.

Sarkozy is responsible for the deterioration of his image

Dominique Moïsi, a senior adviser at France’s Institute for International Relations, writes in the Financial Times that French President Nicolas Sarkozy is responsible for his diminished standing in France and Europe. He has misunderstood his role and tries to win power at all costs.

QUOTE: It is unlikely that the constant deterioration of the president’s image inside and outside France can continue without major consequences. Many analysts believe French politics is today returning to 1980 – with a one-term rightwing presidency soon to be ended by the victory of the left.

Don’t trust the Republicans on fiscal responsibility

Senior editor Jacob Sullum writes in Reason that Congressional Republicans’ promises of fiscal responsibility should not be trusted. They have a past history of spending sprees and have currently neglected to address Washington’s entitlement and defense programs.

QUOTE: Even if you trust the Republicans when they say "we have a plan" to cut $100 billion from the budget, that amounts to just 8 percent of the current $1.3 trillion deficit. And why trust them? As the Pledge to America warns, "it’s not enough" to "swap out one set of leaders for another."

Another rising star in the Kim family

Investigative journalist Philip Shenon writes in the Daily Beast that a recent promotion puts North Korean leader Kim Jong Il’s sister, Kim Kyong Hui, on equal footing as the heir apparent. He writes that the sister, who is known for being an alcoholic and for killing political rivals, has been a rising star within the regime.

QUOTE: Mrs. Kim’s rise gives no hope to Korea watchers that she might bring a lighter, feminine touch to the otherwise brutal regime—far from it.

Currency clashes mark new global order

Columnist Martin Wolf writes in the Financial Times that a global currency clash is causing the developed world to face deficient demand, and a buildup of foreign reserves is preventing natural adjustments.

QUOTE: The inevitable adjustment towards current account deficits in the emerging world is being shifted on to countries that are both attractive to capital inflows and unwilling or unable to intervene in the currency markets on the needed scale.

Pressure Myanmar’s generals to deliver genuine national reconciliation

Václav Havel, former president of the Czech Republic, writes in Project Syndicate that Myanmar’s upcoming election will be a “mockery of free expression.” He argues that the international community must support a UN-led initiative to start genuine dialogue between the Burmese junta and the various political parties and ethnic groups.

QUOTE: But responsibility for assisting Burma does not lie solely at the door of the UN. The pressure on Burma’s generals must also be bilateral and multilateral – and should be reinforced by carefully calibrated economic measures, including targeted financial and banking sanctions.