Economist Summaries – Feb 7 part 1

I love The Economist. I find their articles well written, logical, current, and often fascinating. The problem is that each week there are just too many articles to read them all.

I’ve always wished that there was a site available providing concise summaries of the articles for easier reading. There isn’t one that I can find so I figured I would give it a try. I banged out some notes as I read through this week’s edition.

Here is the first part of my roundup (there are plenty more articles just from this edition)…

Zimbabwe – Wait and see

  • Morgan Tsvangarai has bowed to pressure from Southern African countries and joined a government of national unity
  • The Economist reckons that this is probably not going to do much good – nothing has changed
  • In fact this move may help Mugabe by providing his evil regime with a ‘fig leaf’ of legitimacy
  • The Economist argues that targeted sanctions should continue until there is real change

The world economy – The return of economic nationalism

  • This article argues against the temptation towards economic nationalism
    • In short economic nationalism is anti-trade action taken by a country with the goal of benefiting the local economy (e.g. only buying US products, increasing tariffs, etc)
  • The US stimulus package has a controversial clause that would “press for the use of American materials in public works”
  • The argument is that trade is necessary for recovering from the recession – economic nationalism would damage trade and therefore make it more difficult for everyone to recover
  • The Economist says that Barack Obama should be applying three principles
    • Coordination: The various stimulus plans should be well coordinated for greater effect
    • Forbearance: Don’t go for the quick fix now that will hurt even more later
    • Multilateralism: Work together with the rest of the world to recover

Infrastructure and the stimulus bill – Be careful what you wish for

  • This article discusses the various options available as targets in the public works stimulus bill
  • There is a balance between getting going quickly and taking on really worth while projects
  • In many cases repairs to existing infrastructure would be more useful, and more effective uses of the money

Open government – Track my tax dollars

  • In 2006 Barack Obama and another junior senator called for an online database where people could easily track how government was spending their taxes
  • The bill was initially blocked by dodgy senators but they were revealed and shamed by bloggers!
  • There are now several effective online portals that allow the public to see how dollars are spent

Australia’s economic stimulus – Hey big spender

  • Article describing the Australian stimulus package to try to avoid recession
  • Their package is worth USD27 billion – the biggest in Australia’s history

Ethiopia – A row over human rights

  • This article describes how the Ethiopian government is suppressing human rights
  • Specifically freedom of speech has been completely suppressed