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Eurozone in 2011

Asia Times: Chinese investments concern Southeast Asia. Observer: Britain, like Heathrow airport, needs to be revamped. Japan Times: Rapidly aging societies need immigrants.

Chinese investments concern Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia Editor Shawn W Crispin writes in the Asia Times that China uses its foreign aid to Southeast Asia to influence policies there in its favor. Undemocratic countries are allowing land grabs and other harsh tactics in order to enable Chinese investments.

QUOTE: That's leading some in the region to associate Chinese investment with corrupt government practices, rising perceptions that are motivating the first nationalist stirrings against Chinese expansionism.

Americans no longer trust in mobility

Columnist Frank Rich writes in the New York Times that Americans have lost the belief that economic equality and a secure middle class life is attainable for anyone who works hard enough.

QUOTE: How many middle-class Americans now believe that the sky is the limit if they work hard enough? How many trust capitalism to give them a fair shake?

Arms-control treaty may encourage Russian repression

Ilan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, DC, writes in the Wall Street Journal that Russian officials and experts see the latest US-Russia arms-control treaty as a political victory. It confirms that Russia still matters on the global stage and that the Obama administration will not interfere with Russia’s internal politics and abuses.

QUOTE: The appearance of acquiescence to Russia's great-power aspirations and domestic repression is likely to whet the Kremlin's appetite for more of both.

Asia needs a democratic China

Leader of the Opposition in the Australian House of Representatives Tony Abbott writes in the Australian that Asia needs a prosperous as well as democratic China. A more authoritarian China would be a difficult neighbor.

QUOTE: Sharing liberal democratic values is akin to sharing a culture, a political culture at least. It provides a common set of ideas and a common framework of thinking.

Obama secures key foreign policy wins

Columnist David Ignatius writes in the Washington Post that despite fears of a weakened administration, President Obama has managed to show some backbone and demonstrate that the can still find support for a strong US foreign policy.

QUOTE: Although Obama was drubbed for not getting a free-trade deal before his arrival [in South Korea], his refusal to make last-minute concessions to Seoul made the final deal reached in December much better, and won it bipartisan support.

International monetary reform is a must

Jean Pisani-Ferry, director of Bruegel, an international economics think tank, writes in Project Syndicate that international monetary reform will be difficult to implement given that nations have different ideas and interests. But reform is crucial as countries can exploit the current system. 

QUOTE: Economist Robert Mundell once compared a monetary regime to a political constitution, because it establishes the rules of the game. The analogy is apt. Unfortunately, it also indicates how ambitious and challenging a task it is to reform the international monetary order.

Britain, like Heathrow airport, needs to be revamped 

An editorial in London’s Observer argues that all of Britain, not just its Heathrow airport, needs to be revamped. There is a fear that the country’s economy is starved of investment and lacking a long-term strategy for growth.

QUOTE: Last week's scenes of a nation bedding down in a tatty departure lounge felt ominous and poignant. The challenge for all parties is to evoke a more inspiring vision of 21st-century Britain.

Rapidly aging societies need immigrants

Ian Buruma, professor of democracy and human rights at Bard College, writes in the Japan Times that rapidly aging societies like those in Western Europe and Japan need immigrants to provide the country’s work force. Nonetheless, politicians increasing treat immigration as a social evil.

QUOTE: Europe — and Japan, for that matter — should start by making economic migration legitimate. This means working out what jobs need to be filled, and welcoming those who will fill them, not as guests, but as equal citizens.

Trouble ahead for the eurozone

Simon Tilford, chief economist for the Center for European Reform in London, argues in an interview in the Los Angeles Times that 2011 is likely to see further troubles for the euro because of different views on the causes of the crises and the collapse of economic growth.

QUOTE: The reason is that the structure of economic growth across the Eurozone was very unbalanced. We saw one group of economies relying very heavily on high levels of investment in property … [and others] depended largely on exports.

Obama must end America’s fantasies

Contributing editor Simon Schama writes in the Financial Times that President Obama must put an end to the fantasy mindset in the United States. It’s foolish to believe the government can cut its deficit without cutting military spending or entitlements or raising revenue.

QUOTE: [Obama] owes the long-suffering, still-suffering, country more. He owes it the truth, delivered in such a way that Americans might yet feel that absorbing its seriousness is not the bar to but the condition of their collective reinvigoration.