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Recovery before reform

By Robert Skidelsky LONDON: The financial crisis that started in 2007 shrunk the world economy by 6% in two years, doubling unemployment. Its proximate cause was predatory bank lending, so people are naturally angry and want heads and bonuses to roll — a sentiment captured by the current worldwide protests against “Wall Street.” The banks, however, …

DNE

The consequences of Angela Merkel

By Robert Skidelsky LONDON: Germany has been leading the opposition in the European Union to any write-down of troubled eurozone members’ sovereign debt. Instead, it has agreed to establish bailout mechanisms such as the European Financial Stability Facility and the European Financial Stabilization Mechanism, which can lend up to €500 billion ($680 billion) combined, with the …

DNE

The Keynes-Hayek Rematch

By Robert Skidelsky LONDON: The Austrian economist Friedrich von Hayek, who died in 1992 at the age of 93, once remarked that to have the last word requires only outliving your opponents. His great good fortune was to outlive Keynes by almost 50 years, and thus to claim a posthumous victory over a rival who had …

DNE

The battle of the bonds

By Robert Skidelsky LONDON: Everyone knows that Greece will default on its external debt. The only question concerns the best way to arrange it so that no one really understands that Greece is actually defaulting. On this topic, there is no shortage of expert plans — among them bond buy-backs, bond swaps, and the creation of …

DNE

Free speech under siege

  LONDON: Recently, at a literary festival in Britain, I found myself on a panel discussing free speech. For liberals, free speech is a key index of freedom. Democracies stand for free speech; dictatorships suppress it. When we in the West look outward, this remains our view. We condemn governments that silence, imprison, and even …

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Democracy or finance?

By Robert Skidelsky LONDON: “Shorting” is a tactic well known among the financial cognoscenti. It means betting against an asset with borrowed money in the expectation of making a profit when its value goes down. A speculator can “short” a government by borrowing its debt at its current price, in the hope of selling it later …

DNE

Democracy or finance?

By Robert Skidelsky LONDON: “Shorting” is a tactic well known among the financial cognoscenti. It means betting against an asset with borrowed money in the expectation of making a profit when its value goes down. A speculator can “short” a government by borrowing its debt at its current price, in the hope of selling it later …

DNE

Imperialism reclaimed

By Robert Skidelsky LONDON: History has no final verdicts. Major shifts in events and power bring about new subjects for discussion and new interpretations. Fifty years ago, as de-colonization accelerated, no one had a good word to say for imperialism. It was regarded as unambiguously bad, both by ex-imperialists and by their liberated subjects. Schoolchildren were …

DNE

Unsettling America

By Robert Skidelsky LONDON: Is there more to be said about Egypt? Hosni Mubarak has been sacrificed to save the military regime. A “strongman” who cannot keep order in the streets is of no use to anyone. Whether “democracy” will ensue is much more dubious. Judging on the basis of Pakistan, and much of the …

DNE

Life after capitalism

By Robert Skidelsky LONDON: In 1995, I published a book called “The World After Communism”. Today, I wonder whether there will be a world after capitalism. That question is not prompted by the worst economic slump since the 1930s. Capitalism has always had crises, and will go on having them. Rather, it comes from the feeling …

DNE

A confederal solution for Palestine

By Robert Skidelsky LONDON: Last month, while in New York City, I happened to be staying in the same hotel as Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. To accommodate his security needs, the hotel had been converted into a fortress, much like Israel itself. Netanyahu was in the United States for yet another round of Middle East …

DNE

The irrepressible 1930s

By Robert Skidelsky LONDON: The just concluded G-20 meeting in Seoul broke up without agreement on either currencies or trade. China and the United States accused each other of deliberately manipulating their currencies to get a trade advantage. The Doha Round of global trade talks remain stalled. And, amid talk of the “risks” of new currency …

DNE

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