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A New Demographic Challenge

IHT: Soaring economy does not bring democracy to China. Project Syndicate: How to avoid a currency war. Telegraph: European Union spending requests are unacceptable.

Asia and the world face a new type of demographic challenge

Phillip Longman, a fellow at the New America Foundation and the Washington Monthly, writes in Foreign Policy that demographers used to worry that the planet would soon face dire problems related to rapid population growth. Now, a rise in nations with an old demographic is causing concern.

QUOTE: No society has ever experienced the speed of population aging -- or the gender imbalance -- now seen throughout Asia. So we can't simply look to history to predict Asia's future. But we can say with confidence that no region on Earth is more demographically challenged.

Soaring economy does not bring respect for human rights to China

Fang Lizhi, a professor of physics at the University of Arizona and a former leader of the pro-democracy movement in China, writes in the International Herald Tribune that the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo brings attention to the fact that economic prosperity will not inevitably lead to democracy and respect for human rights in China.

QUOTE: The hardly radical Liu Xiaobo and thousands of other dissidents rot in jail for merely demanding basic rights enshrined by the United Nations and taken for granted by Western investors in their own countries. Human rights have not improved despite a soaring economy.

Take lessons from Australia

Wayne Swan, deputy prime minister and treasurer of Australia, argues in a speech printed in the Wall Street Journal that Australia has managed to rebound from the global downturn because of its strong banking system and prudent monetary and fiscal policy. The country and global community must continue to reform their economies.

QUOTE: When the crisis began, the Reserve Bank of Australia aggressively cut interest rates to emergency levels and the government immediately put in place powerful fiscal stimulus to support jobs and growth. Our response was quick enough and big enough not just to arrest the decline in confidence, production and spending, but to turn them around.

Americans are furious over the economy

Columnist Gideon Rachman writes in the Financial Times that most foreigners perceive the Tea Party members in the United States as crazy fanatics. However, the group is diverse and some have legitimate complaints. Many are simply furious with their government for what they see as an expansion of the state and public spending. The Tea Party will not likely take over the country, unless the economy gets even worse.

QUOTE: If the US slides back into recession, the anger and despair that has fuelled the Tea Party will grow. At that point, a minority protest movement might just turn into something more powerful and more threatening.

How to avoid a currency war

Barry Eichengreen, professor of economics and political science at the University of California, Berkeley, and Douglas Irwin, professor of economics at Dartmouth College, write in Project Syndicate that the best way to avoid a currency war would be to push up price levels to avoid fears of deflation and boost the economy.

QUOTE: The villain of the piece, then, is not China, but the US Federal Reserve Board, which has been reluctant to use all the tools at its disposal to vanquish deflation and jump-start employment growth.

Sri Lanka’s economy picks up after the war

Journalist Amantha Perera writes in the Asia Times that despite continued allegations of human rights violations and a subsequent drop of exports to Europe, Sri Lanka’s economy has improved greatly since the end of the civil war.  Regional countries like India have increased their trade with Sri Lanka.

QUOTE: Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka Ashok Kantha reports that these days, trade relations between the two neighboring nations could not be any better.

European Union spending requests are unacceptable

Columnist Philip Johnston writes in the Daily Telegraph that the British should not “sit back and watch” as the European Union proposes to spend more of its money on public expenditures, especially given that the British will face severe cuts at home.

QUOTE: Our Parliament can't stop the budget; but when MPs are asked for their approval on Wednesday, it would be nice to hear them say, on behalf of us all: "You must be joking."

Outsourcing benefits everyone

William Cohen, a former US secretary of defense, writes in the Wall Street Journal that despite growing unease in the United States with outsourcing and free trade, these practices help the global economy. When American companies expand jobs overseas, they also create jobs at home.

QUOTE: For every job outsourced to Bangalore, nearly two jobs are created in Buffalo and other American cities.

Obama’s arrogance backfires

Columnist Jonah Goldberg writes in the Los Angeles Times that President Obama’s large ego and arrogance is an intentional White House political strategy. But he argues that this strategy has backfired.

QUOTE: When presidents think they're bigger than the job they hold, they shrink in office. When they think they're smaller than the honor they've been temporarily bestowed, they grow into it. Obama has done nothing but shrink.

Wave of anger against political elites threatens to spread

Ian Buruma, professor of democracy and human rights at Bard College, writes in the Guardian that xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment is on the rise across Europe. He argues that Europe’s populist parties may be part of a wave of anger against political elites who are being blamed for the bad economy and modern social problems.  

QUOTE: European populism focuses on Islam and immigration, but it may be mobilizing a wider rage against elites expressed by people who feel unrepresented, or fear being left behind economically. They share a feeling of being dispossessed by foreigners, of losing their sense of national, social, or religious belonging.