February 25th, 2011
By: Patrick Allen
The world is going to become richer and richer as developing economies play catch up over the coming years, according to Willem Buiter, chief economist at Citigroup.
"We expect strong growth in the world economy until 2050, with average real GDP growth rates of 4.6 percent per annum until 2030 and 3.8 percent per annum between 2030 and 2050," Buiter wrote in a market research.
"As a result, world GDP should rise in real PPP-adjusted terms from $72 trillion in 2010 to $380 trillion dollars in 2050," he wrote.
As the world watches oil prices rise sharply amid unrest in the Middle East, Buiter's analysis of the world's long-term prospects offer some hope that better times are ahead but if he is right power will shift from the West to the East very quickly.
One Way Bet on Emerging Markets?
Growth will not be smooth, according to Buiter. "Expect booms and busts. Occasionally, there will be growth disasters, driven by poor policy, conflicts, or natural disasters. When it comes to that, don't believe that 'this time it's different'"
However, there are some easy wins for poor countries with big, young populations, he said.
"Developing Asia and Africa will be the fastest growing regions, in our view, driven by population and income per capita growth, followed in terms of growth by the Middle East, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, the CIS, and finally the advanced nations of today," he wrote.
"For poor countries with large young populations, growing fast should be easy: open up, create some form of market economy, invest in human and physical capital, don't be unlucky and don't blow it. Catch-up and convergence should do the rest," Buiter added.
Buiter has constructed a "3G index" to measure economic progress; 3G stands for "Global Growth Generators" and is a weighted average of six growth drivers that the Citigroup economists consider important:
- A measure of domestic saving/ investment
- A measure of demographic prospects
- A measure of health
- A measure of education
- A measure of the quality of institutions and policies
- A measure of trade openness
Using that index the nations to watch over the coming years are Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Mongolia, Nigeria, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.
"They are our 3G countries," Buiter said.
February 25th, 2011
MADISON, Wis. – Republicans in the Wisconsin Assembly took the first significant action on their plan to strip collective bargaining rights from most public workers, abruptly passing the measure early Friday morning before sleep-deprived Democrats realized what was happening.
The vote ended three straight days of punishing debate in the Assembly. But the political standoff over the bill — and the monumental protests at the state Capitol against it — appear far from over.
The Assembly's vote sent the bill on to the Senate, but minority Democrats in that house have fled to Illinois to prevent a vote. No one knows when they will return from hiding. Republicans who control the chamber sent state troopers out looking for them at their homes on Thursday, but they turned up nothing.
"I applaud the Democrats in the Assembly for earnestly debating this bill and urge their counterparts in the state Senate to return to work and do the same," Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, R-Horicon, said in a statement issued moments after the vote.
The plan from Republican Gov. Scott Walker contains a number of provisions he says are designed to fill the state's $137 million deficit and lay the groundwork for fixing a projected $3.6 billion shortfall in the upcoming 2011-13 budget.
The flashpoint is language that would require public workers to contribute more to their pensions and health insurance and strip them of their right to collectively bargain benefits and work conditions.
Democrats and unions see the measure as an attack on workers' rights and an attempt to cripple union support for Democrats. Union leaders say they would make pension and health care concessions if they can keep their bargaining rights, but Walker has refused to compromise.
Tens of thousands of people have jammed the Capitol since last week to protest, pounding on drums and chanting so loudly that police providing security have resorted to ear plugs. Hundreds have taken to sleeping in the building overnight, dragging in air mattresses and blankets.
Walker issued a statement Friday praising the Assembly for passing the bill and renewing his call for Senate Democrats to return.
"The fourteen Senate Democrats need to come home and do their jobs, just like the Assembly Democrats did," Walker said.
With the Senate immobilized, Assembly Republicans decided to act and convened the chamber Tuesday morning.
Democrats launched a filibuster, throwing out dozens of amendments and delivering rambling speeches. Each time Republicans tried to speed up the proceedings, Democrats rose from their seats and wailed that the GOP was stifling them.
Debate had gone on for 60 hours and 15 Democrats were still waiting to speak when the vote started around 1 a.m. Friday. Speaker Pro Tem Bill Kramer, R-Waukesha, opened the roll and closed it within seconds.
Democrats looked around, bewildered. Only 13 of the 38 Democratic members managed to vote in time.
Republicans immediately marched out of the chamber in single file. The Democrats rushed at them, pumping their fists and shouting "Shame!" and "Cowards!"
The Republicans walked past them without responding.
Democrats left the chamber stunned. The protesters greeted them with a thundering chant of "Thank you!" Some Democrats teared up. Others hugged.
"What a terrible, terrible day for Wisconsin," said Rep. Jon Richards, D-Milwaukee. "I am incensed. I am shocked."
GOP leaders in the Assembly refused to speak with reporters, but earlier Friday morning Majority Leader Scott Suder, R-Abbotsford, warned Democrats that they had been given 59 hours to be heard and Republicans were ready to vote.
The governor has said that if the bill does not pass by Friday, the state will miss a deadline to refinance $165 million of debt and will be forced to start issuing layoff notices next week. However, the deadline may not as strict as he says.
The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau said earlier this week that the debt refinancing could be pushed back as late as Tuesday to achieve the savings Walker wants. Based on a similar refinancing in 2004, about two weeks are needed after the bill becomes law to complete the deal. That means if the bill is adopted by the middle of next week, the state can still meet a March 16 deadline, the Fiscal Bureau said.
Democratic Sen. Jon Erpenbach said he and his colleagues wouldn't return until Walker compromised.
Frustrated by the delay, Senate Republican Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, Jeff Fitzgerald's brother, ordered state troopers to find the missing Democrats, but they came up empty. Wisconsin law doesn't allow police to arrest the lawmakers, but Fitzgerald said he hoped the show of authority would have pressured them to return.
Erpenbach, who was in the Chicago area, said all 14 senators remained outside of Wisconsin.
"It's not so much the Democrats holding things up," Erpenbach said. "It's really a matter of Gov. Walker holding things up."
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Associated Press writer Scott Bauer contributed to this report.
February 24th, 2011
By JENNIFER FERMINO, Post Correspondent
HARVARD, Ill. -- Wisconsin state Sen. Dave Hansen, the assistant minority leader, thought he was staying at a secret location in Harvard, Ill., just south of the Wisconsin border.
That was until a group of picture-taking party activists from the Northern Illinois Tea Party showed up at the Heritage Inn and Suites off of Route 14.
Hansen, officially outed, looked like a deer caught in the headlights of a speeding tractor trailer.
Hansen and several other Democratic refugees were forced to find another location.
"We're not about to give in yet," Hansen later said.
Others have found that exile can be expensive.
Wisconsin Sen. Jon Erpenbach -- one of the other 14 Wisconsin Democrats who fled the state to block a union-busting budget bill -- managed to find a Chicago hotel room on Priceline.com for $99, a fiscally responsible deal by any political standard.
But $28 for a room service hamburger was a little outside his budget.
"I'll probably be moving again tonight," Erpenbach said by phone, careful not to reveal his location. "I'm paying for it myself. I'm very much a paycheck-to-paycheck single dad. This is a financial hardship."
And it doesn't help that Republicans are cooking up a plot to hold their paychecks hostage.
Under the plan detailed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker, legislators who miss two consecutive sessions will have their direct deposits stopped.
"You still get a check," Walker said. "But the check has to be personally picked up."
But the checks won't be sitting in a basket in some random government office. They'll be locked "in their desk on the floor of the state Senate," Walker said.
Life on the lam has its other hardships. There are the threats on office answering machines and stalkers from the local Tea Party.
At least one senator described a lifestyle that seems like a scene from "The Fugitive."
There are clandestine meetings with family and staff, cash transactions to avoid credit card detection.
"I'd like to be back home with my kids, with my constituents," said Erpenbach, whose next challenge is finding a Laundromat that isn't being staked out by sign-waving protesters. "We strongly believe that we are doing the right thing."
The lawmakers fled the state to avoid voting on a Republican-sponsored bill that would curb collective bargaining by public workers.
Their run for the border galvanized local Tea Party activists, who, along with the national media, have been in hot pursuit ever since.
As long as the Democrats stay away, the 19 Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate can't muster the crucial 20th vote they need to pass the controversial legislation.
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February 24th, 2011
The wave of protests that began in the Mideast appears to have reached even North Korea. For the first time in the history of the Stalinist regime, groups of ordinary citizens have protested in three cities demanding food and electricity, sources say. The event is exceptional and confirms the economic difficulties, especially concerning food supplies, people have to face under the Communist government.
According to South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper, citing a North Korean source, demonstrations broke out on 14 February, two days before Kim Jong-il’s birthday, in the cities of Jongju, Yongchon and Sonchon, not far from the border of China. The State Security Department (the all-powerful agency under Kim Jong-il’s direct control) investigated the incident but failed to identify the people who started the commotion when they met with a wall of silence.
“When such an incident took place in the past, people used to report their neighbours to the security forces, but now they're covering for each other," the source said. Korean sources told AsiaNews that this represents a crack in the prevailing mindset. “Different factors are at play. On the one hand, the country’s worsening economic situation is certainly one reason. The regime is in fact unable to feed most of its people. On the other, changes at the top are another as Kim Jong-un gets ready to succeed his father on the throne in Pyongyang.”
The younger Kim is “feared by the population,” the source said. “He is viewed as bloodthirsty and mad. “Almost everyone thinks he was behind the military attacks against ROKS Cheonan and an island under South Korean control, which led to restrictions on humanitarian aid from the South. This has further worsened standards of living in the North. North Koreans are ready to do just about anything to stop the succession.
Related From Conservative Refocus
February 24th, 2011
by Jon Bershad
On his radio show Tuesday, Glenn Beck made what he has now called “one of the worst analogies of all time” when he compared Reform Judaism to Islamic Extremism. The reaction was swift, with the Anti-Defamation League saying the comments belied Beck’s “bigoted ignorance.” Today, in a lengthy comment that opened his show, Beck said he agreed and that “ignorant” is a “perfect description for what [he] said.”
Beck made the apology at the top of his show as he said it’s always important to lead with your mistakes so as to “guard your credibility.” He explained that he was speaking off of some information that he had heard (or misheard) from someone the day before, however the onus was entirely on him. “I’ve always told you to do your own homework,” he said. “And, in this case, I didn’t do enough homework.” He claimed that, even as the original words were coming out his mouth, he knew something was wrong.
UPDATE: The group Jewish Funds for Justice have responded to Beck’s apology. They were the organization that Beck was originally speaking about when he made the controversial comments. He was criticizing their ad that was published in the Wall Street Journal. It called for Beck to receive a sanction for past comments.
Here is their full response:
“Statement from Jewish Funds for Justice in response to Glenn Beck’s radio apology this morning:
Glenn Beck’s apology for comparing Reform Judaism to “Radicalized Islam” is welcome but incomplete. While we are heartened to hear him recognize his ignorance, he still has not acknowledged that the letter signed by 400 rabbis and organized by Jewish Funds for Justice represented a cross-section of denominations, including Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist, and Renewal rabbis.
Glenn Beck’s characterization of Reform Judaism is in keeping with his longstanding hostility toward people who see their faith linked to pursuing the common good. This was made clear in March of 2010, when Mr. Beck advised people to leave their churches if their clergy spoke about social justice.
Mr. Beck’s demonization of his political opponents is a regular feature of his radio and television shows. This problem is systemic. His remarks about Reform Jews are only the most recent example of the attacks that occur daily on Beck’s show.
We reiterate our call for Rupert Murdoch to end Mr. Beck’s tenure at Fox News and for Salem Communications to commit not to add his syndicated radio show to their New York stations. Anything short of this reflects an unwillingness to take seriously the harm Mr. Beck causes to many in our community and beyond.”
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