FROM Rana Foroohar
The Paradox of Rising Indicators in a Troubled Economy In 2009, the Dow Jones Industrial Average bottomed out at 6,500. Since then, it's more than doubled, with another record closing last week at 15,354. Standard & Poor's and other market indexes are also setting records and housing construction is showing signs of a restoration. But eight million people are still out of work, and a smaller percentage of people own homes than a decade ago. Is it time to feel good again about the economy or not? Are we in for increased prosperity or bursting bubbles? We get a reality check.
Can a Divided Europe Save Its Common Currency? America's economic future will depend in part on what happens in Europe, so the crisis over the Euro demands our attention. The Eurozone is divided between prosperous countries like France -- and especially Germany — and debtor nations, including Greece, and now Italy. The strong are needed to bail out the weak, but so far there's not enough trust for the strong to provide big money or the weak to accept austerity. Can un-elected European technocrats, trained on Wall Street, overcome the politics of independent nations? Why is it all so important to the United States?
No Economic Downturn in China Two things most Americans associate with China are astonishing economic growth and mind-boggling pollution. But growth also means stock-market and real-estate bubbles, a shrinking private sector and a restive working class. Now China’s trying to go green at the same time it builds coal plants and imports oil.
In China, the Recession Is Over — or Is It? With a massive government stimulus that's fueled a frenzy of building, China's economy grew by 8.9% in the third quarter, compared to the United States' 3.2%. But growth also means stock-market and real-estate bubbles, a shrinking private sector and a restive working class. Emphasis on manufacturing has created world-class pollution, and now China's trying to go green at the same time it builds coal plants and imports oil. Does China, holding 23% of America's debt, threaten this country's interests? Will global problems force the US and China to be partners as well as competitors?
Rising Oil Prices, Changing Lifestyles and Consumer Choices The spiraling cost of gas is hitting hard everywhere. Truckers and fishermen in Europe are protesting prices that have reached $10 a gallon. As hearings were held in the US Senate today about whether oil prices are being manipulated by speculators, General Motors announced that it is closing four SUV and pick-up plants, along with plans to roll out more fuel efficient vehicles. What kind of long-term changes are in store? Have Americans reached the tipping point in terms of their consumer lifestyle? Will suburbs be forced to transform into small towns?
Will the march for science politicize objective research? Protesters are gathering all over the country for tomorrow's Earth Day March for Science. Since President Trump has proposed massive cuts in basic scientific research, will the movement be perceived as partisan politics — whether scientists themselves like it or not?
White House flip flops: NATO, Syria and China In less than 100 days, President Trump has contradicted himself on a host of foreign policy issues — Syria, NATO, China and Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Is it a strength — or a weakness — for the United States when the world of power politics never knows what to expect?