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Posts Tagged ‘Populism’

No, the Financial Crisis Didn’t Spawn Populism

Posted by hkarner - 20. September 2018

Date: 19-09-2018
Source: The Wall Street Journal By Greg Ip

Election results and economic data suggest the two aren’t as closely connected as some commentators believe

The unifying factor in the rise of right-wing populism is a disenchantment with globalization in all its manifestations: international trade, international institutions (like the EU) and, most of all, immigration.

Two defining events of the last decade were the financial crisis and the rise of right-wing populists like Donald Trump. Many believe that the first caused the second.

In “Crashed,” historian Adam Tooze’s ambitious new history of the last decade, there is a direct line connecting them: “Overshadowed by memories of 2008, the 2016 election delivered a stark verdict.”

Surveys find little evidence for Mr. Bannon’s claim that the crisis drove voters into Mr. Trump’s arms.

Steve Bannon, the right-wing provocateur and architect of Mr. Trump’s campaign, agrees: “The legacy of the financial crisis is Donald J. Trump,” he told New York Magazine. “You know why the deplorables are angry? They’re rational human beings. We took away the risk for the wealthy.”

This seems intuitive. If, like Mr. Tooze, we treat the series of crises that include the failure of Lehman Brothers and cascaded through the eurozone as a single event, then this was the worst economic catastrophe since the Great Depression. And since the Depression led to political convulsions like nationalism and fascism, shouldn’t this one?

I used to think so, but upon closer read of elections, economic data, surveys and history, this connection looks exaggerated if not wrong.

This isn’t merely an academic point. By linking the financial crisis and populism too tightly, we might draw the wrong lessons about both.

To be sure, the crisis had political consequences. Practically every political party that governed during a crisis, from George W. Bush’s Republicans to Gordon Brown’s Labour Party, was shown the door. Several studies have found that politics becomes more fragmented and polarized in the wake of crises, and this one was no exception. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »


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Has Austria Found the Answer to Right-Wing Populism?

Posted by hkarner - 11. September 2018

At last, a fair and intelligent article about Austria’s (successful) dilemma! And that in such a precious media! (hfk)

Date: 11-09-2018

Source: Foreign Policy By Franz-Stefan Gady

Why Center-Right Parties Are the Establishment’s Best Bet

The specter of populism continues to haunt Europe. The so-called European establishment has yet to find a meaningful response to counter those on the far left and far right who claim that they, and only they, represent the true will of the people. The latest manifestation of this trend occurred last weekend when a populist far-right anti-immigration party with roots in neo-Nazism had its best-ever showing in Sweden’s general elections. Social democratic parties in particular are in a state of deep crisis—center-left parties are currently part of only six EU governments out of the 28 member states—and have found it difficult to rally voters around their traditional agenda of social justice and redistributive economic policies. As these ideas are taken for granted by the majority of the European public, social democratic parties simply seem to be no longer benefiting from them at the polls.

Consequently, any check on populist parties for the time being needs to come from the center-right. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), currently the senior partner in a coalition government with the populist right-wing Freedom Party (FPÖ), has offered such a check, both at the polls and in government. Although it has come with a price—the ÖVP has moved to the right with its politics—a government headed by a center-right party is infinitely preferable to a government headed by the extreme populist right in the current political climate. Examining the case of the ÖVP may therefore offer some insights into strategies to tame populist forces in Europe.


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The world has not learned the lessons of the financial crisis

Posted by hkarner - 8. September 2018

Date: 06-09-2018
Source: The Economist

Banks are safer, but too much of what has gone wrong since 2008 could happen again

WHEN historians gaze back at the early 21st century, they will identify two seismic shocks. The first was the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001, the second the global financial crisis, which boiled over ten years ago this month with the collapse of Lehman Brothers. September 11th led to wars, Lehman’s bankruptcy to an economic and political reckoning. Just as the fighting continues, so the reckoning is far from over.

Lehman failed after losing money on toxic loans and securities linked to America’s property market. Its bankruptcy unleashed chaos. Trade fell in every country on which the World Trade Organisation reports. Credit supplied to the real economy fell, by perhaps $2trn in America alone. To limit their indebtedness, governments resorted to austerity. Having exhausted the scope to cut interest rates, central bankers turned to quantitative easing (creating money to buy bonds).

Just as the causes of the financial crisis were many and varied, so were its consequences. It turbocharged today’s populist surge, raising questions about income inequality, job insecurity and globalisation. But it also changed the financial system. The question is: did it change it enough? Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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The Populist War Against Intelligence

Posted by hkarner - 24. August 2018

Kent Harrington

Kent Harrington, a former senior CIA analyst, served as National Intelligence Officer for East Asia, Chief of Station in Asia, and the CIA’s Director of Public Affairs.

It would be a mistake to interpret US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the security clearance of former CIA director John Brennan as only his latest vendetta for lèse-majesté. More ominously for the health of the democracies of the West, other populists are following Trump’s example.

ATLANTA – Despite his seemingly limitless capacity for vindictiveness, it would be a mistake to interpret US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the security clearance of former CIA director John Brennan as only his latest vendetta for lèse-majesté. True, Brennan has all but labeled Trump and his behavior, including his Russian connections, a national security threat. But Trump’s move is more than personal payback. As the most recent blow in his two-year-long attack on the intelligence community, his slap at Brennan is a harbinger of more to come as he tries to bring his espionage agencies to heel.

More ominously for the health of the democracies of the West, other populists are following Trump’s example. In Europe, a variety of right-wing parties, having now found themselves in power, are taking on former government antagonists, who have monitored and policed their extremism for decades.

In Austria, the country’s populist leaders have been intimidating, muzzling, and purging the country’s intelligence services. In February, on orders from the populist interior minister, Austrian police raided the country’s main intelligence agency – the very organization charged with monitoring right-wing extremism. (It should be recalled that the Freedom Party, the coalition partner in Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s government, was founded by ex-SS officers). Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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First They Came for the Immigrants. Then They Came for the Robots.

Posted by hkarner - 15. Juli 2018

Date: 13-07-2018

Politicians must prepare voters for automation; otherwise, opportunistic populists will seize the agenda.

The phrase “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet” has been used as the title of several pop songs and a French film. It could also aptly describe the future of politics across the globe as the twin specters of nationalism and populism intensify and people grapple with the social and economic impacts of increased automation and the spread of artificial intelligence.

In key respects, this future has already arrived. In 2016, there were already 309 installed industrial robots for every 10,000 manufacturing workers — a measurement known as robot density — in Germany, 223 in Sweden, and 189 in the United States. The use of robots had risen 7 percent in the United States, 5 percent in Sweden, and 3 percent in Germany in just one year. That may not sound like much, but at that rate, robot density would double in the United States in about a decade. And these numbers are only likely to grow because next-generation robots are already highly cost competitive. The average hourly cost of a manufacturing worker in Germany as of 2013 was $49, in France it was $43, and in the United States $36. The hourly cost of a collaborative robot — a machine that does not require skill to interact with — was $4, according to a recent study by Bain & Company.

That same Bain study estimates that advances in automation could displace up to 25 percent of the U.S. labor force over the next two decades. This would mean nearly 2.5 million Americans would have to find new work each year. By comparison, only 1.2 million Americans were displaced annually in the transition from agriculture to industry in the first part of the 20th century. Estimates for other countries vary widely, but all suggest significant displacement can be anticipated thanks to the rapid adoption of robotics and AI in both the manufacturing sector and, increasingly, the provision of services. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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The Migration Dilemma

Posted by hkarner - 9. Juli 2018

Peter Singer is Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, Laureate Professor in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne, and founder of the non-profit organization The Life You Can Save. His books include Animal Liberation, Practical Ethics, The Ethics of What We Eat (with Jim Mason), Rethinking Life and Death, The Point of View of the Universe, co-authored with Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek, The Most Good You Can Do, Famine, Affluence, and Morality, One World Now, Ethics in the Real World, and Utilitarianism: A Very Short Introduction, also with Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek. In 2013, he was named the world’s third „most influential contemporary thinker“ by the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute.

Political leaders who want to act humanely towards asylum-seekers and other migrants now face a moral dilemma. Either they pursue border control that is strict enough to undercut public support for far-right parties, or they risk allowing those parties to gain more power – and challenge the West’s most fundamental values.

PRINCETON – The most heart-rending media story of the past month featured children crying after being separated from their parents at the border between the United States and Mexico. US President Donald Trump, after initially defending the separations, yielded to public pressure and signed an executive order ending it. In Europe, too, immigrants made headlines as the ship Aquarius, carrying 629 rescued would-be immigrants, was turned away by Italy’s new populist government, as well as by Malta. That formed the background to a European Union meeting in Brussels, which hammered out a compromise on how to protect Europe’s borders and screen arriving migrants.

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Is Realism Trumping Populism?

Posted by hkarner - 30. April 2018

Anatole Kaletsky is Chief Economist and Co-Chairman of Gavekal Dragonomics. A former columnist at the Times of London, the International New York Times and the Financial Times, he is the author of Capitalism 4.0, The Birth of a New Economy, which anticipated many of the post-crisis transformations of the global economy. His 1985 book, Costs of Default, became an influential primer for Latin American and Asian governments negotiating debt defaults and restructurings with banks and the IMF.

With economic conditions returning more or less to normal around the world after a decade of financial crises, nationalist populism is now seen as the biggest threat to global recovery. But is it possible that this consensus has emerged just as the populist wave has crested?

NEW YORK – With economic conditions returning more or less to normal around the world after a decade of financial crises, nationalist populism is now seen as the biggest threat to global recovery. That was certainly true of the finance ministers who gathered in Washington, DC, this month for the IMF’s annual spring meeting. But is it possible that this consensus has emerged just as the populist wave has crested? Rather than populist politics undermining economic recovery, could economic recovery be undermining populist politics?

Looking around the world, populist economic policy appears to be in retreat, even though no clear alternative is visible. In the United States, President Donald Trump seems to be curbing his protectionist instincts, and economic relations with China are stabilizing. In Europe, despite the media focus on the success of xenophobic politicians in Hungary and Poland, the pendulum is swinging away from economic nationalism in the countries that really matter: France, Germany, Spain, and Italy, where the two populist parties that recently achieved electoral breakthroughs are now vying to show their devotion to the euro. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Populism Bites Back

Posted by hkarner - 27. April 2018

Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong and a former EU commissioner for external affairs, is Chancellor of the University of Oxford.

Political posturing is often expedient. But British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government is now being reminded daily of the far-reaching consequences of staking out positions that lack any meaningful regard for the future.

LONDON – This spring, British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative government is being reminded of just how powerful – and long-lasting – the unintended consequences of policies can be. Two problems concerning the United Kingdom’s borders – one relating to immigration, the other linked to the frontier with the Republic of Ireland – have lately erupted. While they have not yet weakened support for the government, they probably will. And they are almost certain to diminish what is left of Britain’s soft power.

The immigration problem goes back some seven decades, to the arrival of the first waves of Caribbean immigrants in the UK. They had been invited by the government in the wake of World War II to help offset a labor shortage, taking hard-to-fill jobs in the National Health Service (NHS) and other sectors. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Germany’s Populist Temptation

Posted by hkarner - 20. April 2018

Sławomir Sierakowski, founder of the Krytyka Polityczna movement, is Director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Warsaw and a fellow at the Robert Bosch Academy in Berlin.

After months of difficult coalition talks, German Chancellor Angela Merkel finally managed to establish a new government in early March, only to find that she has a spoiler in her own camp. To shore up his right flank, Christian Social Union leader Horst Seehofer has launched a cold war against Merkel and the German establishment.

BERLIN – Because populism is not an ideology in itself, it can easily appeal to mainstream political parties seeking to shore up flagging electoral support. There are always politicians willing to mimic populist slogans and methods to win over voters, even if doing so divides their own party. This has been proven by Republicans in the United States, Conservatives and Labourites in the United Kingdom, and Les Républicains under the new leadership of Laurent Wauquiez in France.

But the most ominous manifestation of this tendency can be found in Germany’s Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union. The CDU/CSU’s weak showing in last year’s parliamentary election, combined with the unprecedented gains by the populist Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), has created new schisms within the party grouping. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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How to Steal the Populists’ Clothes

Posted by hkarner - 12. April 2018

Ngaire Woods is Founding Dean of the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford.

The continued electoral success of populists in Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America, and in the United States shows that while their policy proposals may be fanciful, their mode of conducting politics is effective. To win at the ballot box, mainstream politicians should apply three lessons that populists have mastered.

Consider Brazil, where campaigning is in full swing for the general election this October. As always, establishment politicians are campaigning on promises of fiscal prudence and economic growth, neither of which resonates with the 50 million Brazilians – nearly a quarter of the population – living below the poverty line, on household incomes that average $387.07 per month. Meanwhile, the populist presidential candidate, Jair Bolsonaro, proposes giving every Brazilian a gun so they can defend themselves. To the elites, this sounds (and is) preposterous. But for Brazilians who worry about their own safety, he is at least showing that he understands their top concern.

Knowing what matters to your voters is basic electoral politics. Before winning the French presidency and a parliamentary majority last year, Emmanuel Macron’s La République En Marche ! – building on a strategy pioneered by former US President Barack Obama’s successful campaigns – sent volunteers across the country to listen to voters’ concerns.

A second lesson from today’s populists is to use simple, intuitive messaging to signal your goals. Yes, slogans like “I’ll protect your jobs” and “Make America great again” sound simplistic. But where are the sophisticated alternatives? Talk of economic growth works only when people are enjoying the benefits of that growth.

During periods of slow or inequitable growth, politicians must offer more direct responses to what people are feeling. In the United Kingdom’s Brexit referendum, the Remain campaign, phlegmatically led by then-Prime Minister David Cameron’s government, argued that leaving the European Union would result in lower GDP, lost trade, and disruption to the financial sector. Such arguments completely missed what concerned most voters. By contrast, the Brexiteers promised to “take back control” of the UK’s borders and claimed – falsely – that the National Health Service would enjoy a windfall of £350 million ($490 million) per week.

All told, establishment politicians seem to be at a loss. Academics, pundits, and political, business, and civil-society leaders have been far too slow to articulate new economic and social policies that have broad-based appeal. To be sure, that is not easy to do. It takes self-reflection and clarity of vision. But, first and foremost, it takes a commitment of time and energy to understand the plight of the electorate and to frame solutions in a clear, simple way.

The third lesson from the populist playbook is to be bold. In difficult times, people are seeking a transformational vision of the future, not slight improvements. After 30 years of pragmatism and incremental change, it is time for a new tone. Recall that in 1945, Winston Churchill, having delivered victory for Britain in World War II, lost the general election.

The winner, Clement Attlee, promised what was effectively a new social contract for war-weary Britons still living under rations. His government went on to provide free universal health care, unemployment insurance, pensions, decent housing, and secure jobs in nationalized industries. And all this was done with the national debt still at 250% of GDP.

The audacity of Attlee’s vision has no modern-day parallel. And that is our biggest problem.


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