September 17th, 2014
04:26 PM ET

World remains glum about economic prospects

By Bruce Stokes, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Bruce Stokes is the director of the Pew Research Center’s Global Economic Attitudes. The views expressed are solely those of the author.

Six years since the beginning of the Great Recession and publics around the world remain glum about the state of their economy and prospects for an economic recovery. In most nations, people say their country is heading in the wrong direction and most voice the view that economic conditions are bad, according to a new 44 country survey by the Pew Research Center conducted among 48,643 respondents from March 17 to June 5, 2014.

A global median of 60 percent see their country’s economy performing poorly, largely unchanged from last year. People in advanced economies, such as the United States and France, are slightly more negative than those in emerging markets. Only in developing economies is there some semblance of satisfaction with current national economic performance: 51 percent voice the view that their economy is doing well.

Those who see their economy in the most negative light are the Greeks (97 percent say economic conditions are bad), Italians (96 percent), Spanish (93 percent) and Ukrainians (93 percent). In the U.S., 58 percent are of the opinion that the American economy is not doing well; only 40 percent say its performance is good. Those most positive about their national economic conditions are the Chinese, Vietnamese and Germans, where more than 80 percent are upbeat. FULL POST

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Topics: Economy
September 8th, 2014
07:06 PM ET

Some good news out of Washington

For more What in the World watch Sundays at 10 a.m. & 1 p.m. ET on CNN

By Global Public Square staff

We’re always on the lookout for good news – and we have some important good news this week, and it's actually coming out of Washington, despite all the polarization. Of course, true to form, the two parties disagree about this piece of news. So what is it?

Well, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office recently released its semi-annual outlook of the U.S. economy over the next decade. And the CBO's headline is that things are going better than expected. We are firmly in an economic recovery with substantially lower federal deficits, low interest rates and, we would add, little danger of inflation.

The CBO says that the federal deficit – the gap between revenues and spending – is projected to be $506 billion in 2014. That is just 2.9 percent of GDP, slightly lower than the average shortfall over the last four decades.

Keep in mind that in 2009 the federal deficit was 9.8 percent of GDP. The current number is much better than most believed was possible just a few years ago.  FULL POST

Topics: Economy • What in the World?
August 7th, 2014
11:42 AM ET

How Saudi Arabia can avoid an energy crisis

By Maha Hosain Aziz, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Maha Hosain Aziz is a professor of politics (adjunct) in NYU's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and a senior analyst at geopolitical consultancy Wikistrat. The views expressed are her own.

Ask most Americans which country is the world’s largest oil producer is, and you will likely hear some familiar names – Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq. Some might suggest Russia, which produces more than 10 million barrels a day. Yet according to recent numbers from the International Energy Agency and Bank of America, it’s another country has taken the lead in global production – the United States. And this new reality raises an interesting question: Is this the beginning of the end of former number one Saudi Arabia’s global oil dominance?

In recent years, everyone from Citigroup to Chatham House has suggested Saudi Arabia – the world’s biggest oil exporter – could face oil shortages in the next 10 to 15 years, prompting many to ask whether the country and its heavily oil-dependent economy are prepared for the potential crisis.

The answer is yes, and no. Local energy demand has skyrocketed, and could increase by 250 percent by 2028, largely due to a population boom that has seen the Kingdom’s population jump from six million in 1970 to over 29 million today. This in turn has prompted the state to explore oil alternatives for domestic energy use. Indeed, in June, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates reportedly signed an accord to jointly develop renewable energy and clean technology. In addition, Saudi Arabia has indicated it hopes to become a key market for renewable energy by 2032, with a projected third of the country’s power to come from this source. FULL POST

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Topics: Economy • Energy • Oil • Saudi Arabia
July 22nd, 2014
11:28 AM ET

A rival to the World Bank?

For more What in the World watch Sundays at 10 a.m. & 1 p.m. ET on CNN

By Global Public Square staff

World leaders came together in Brazil last week to celebrate. And no, this had nothing to do with the World Cup. We’re talking about the 6th annual BRICS summit.

The leaders of all the BRICS nations – that is Vladimir Putin, Narendra Modi, Dilma Rousseff, Xi Jinping and Jacob Zuma – all gathered in Fortaleza, Brazil. And on Tuesday they sent a shot across the bow by announcing a $50 billion bank meant to rival the World Bank, and a $100 billion crisis fund to replace the IMF.

It’s clear why they made this move.

You see, these five nations – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – now account for more than 40 percent of the world's population, almost 20 percent of the world's total GDP and 17 percent of global trade. Yes, growth in the emerging markets has slowed recently, but these countries have still become a large enough force in the global system that they want a seat at the table.

FULL POST

July 19th, 2014
11:07 PM ET

Krugman: It's starting to look like a recovery

Fareed speaks with New York Times columnist Paul Krugman about the state of the U.S. economy. Watch the full interview on GPS this Sunday at 10 a.m. & 1 p.m. ET on CNN.

So, Paul, the quick take on the U.S. economy.

Things are getting better, finally. It's starting to look, finally, like a real recovery. But it's not a boom. And this is after many, many years of terrible performance. So, relative to the way things have been for the last few years, we're feeling pretty good. Relative to anything anyone could have imagined, the worst down side you could have imagined seven years ago, it's terrible.

So I would say it's half full, half empty. More half empty than half full, because we should be doing much better than this.

And lots of people argue the only reason we're doing as well as we are is that the Federal Reserve has maintained these extraordinarily, very low rates, other kinds of programs that pump cash into the system.

Well, certainly keeping rates low – there's no rational reason not to keep them low. Basically, business doesn't see a lot of investment opportunities, people aren’t ready to buy houses in large numbers yet. So you have to have a cheap money environment.And at least, thankfully, the Fed has been doing its job.

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Topics: Economy • GPS Show
July 15th, 2014
11:33 AM ET

The danger of America's 'economic drone'

For more What in the World watch Sundays at 10 a.m. & 1 p.m. ET on CNN

By Global Public Square staff

We’re sure you heard about the Paris-based bank, BNP Paribas, which fell afoul of Washington's regulators and agreed to plead guilty to a felony and pay a staggering $8.9 billion fine – larger than its annual profits.

So it must have violated a slew of laws, right? Actually, no. It hadn't violated French law, or EU law, or any of its obligations under the WTO or the United Nations. It hadn't even violated a French-American treaty.

What in the world?

BNP Paribas violated a set of unilateral American sanctions, passed by Congress, that were never affirmed or followed by the European Union or France.And neither the buyers nor the sellers in any of the transactions BNP was involved in were Americans.

So what was Washington's hold on BNP? It all centers on the central role that the dollar plays in today's globalized economy. You see, even if two foreign companies want to do a deal, assuming it’s a large transaction, the deal is likely to be denominated in dollars – the currency that everyone has access to, is available in ample supply, is a symbol of stability and, as a result, remains the world's reserve currency.

FULL POST

July 7th, 2014
04:51 PM ET

Why the Export-Import Bank matters

For more What in the World watch Sundays at 10 a.m. & 1 p.m. ET on CNN

By Global Public Square staff

You know countries don't always play by the rules of international trade, especially countries where the government and large companies are really all part of the same team.

Take, for example, China – the most notorious player who hasn't read the rule sheet. The government of China lavishes subsidies on its companies to make their products more competitive in the global marketplace.

And it's not just subsidies that help Chinese companies. Last year, China's government gave its domestic companies $111 billion in guarantees, loans and insurance to help them sell their various products overseas.

And China is just one example – Japan's companies got $33 billion worth of such treatment, South Korea $24 billion. And by contrast, the U.S. total was just $15 billion. Keep in mind that South Korea's economy is less than 1/10th the size of America's!

FULL POST

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Topics: China • Economy • United States • What in the World?
June 28th, 2014
10:58 PM ET

Where America Works: A closer look at Houston

Watch"Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

Houston was the first city to regain all of the jobs it lost in the 2008 recession. In fact, it actually created more than two jobs for every one that it lost.

That job creation has been a driving force behind the changing face of Houston, which in the words of current Mayor Annise Parker has been trying to fill those jobs by attracting “some of the best and the brightest from around the world.”

Today, one in five Houstonians was born in another country. To find out more about how Gulfton has been at the center of the changes in the city, watch the video clip and tune into a new segment starting this Sunday on GPS: Where America Works.

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Topics: Economy • United States
June 24th, 2014
10:28 AM ET

A smarter way to tackle poverty

For more What in the World watch Sundays at 10 a.m. & 1 p.m. ET on CNN

By Global Public Square staff

The economic buzzword of the year is inequality – it has sparked protests around the world, it’s a centerpiece of President Obama's agenda now, and it has even inspired an unlikely bestseller.

People watch the growing inequality around the world and in the United States and despair about what to do. One of the most popular fixes is raising the minimum wage – and that’s not just on the left. Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel has recently supported a new wage increase, as has Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer the Conservative Party’s George Osborne.

In the United States, President Obama proposed boosting the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour at the beginning of the year. That's a 39 percent increase over the current wage minimum of $7.25. Republicans have, of course, made it clear that they will never pass this in Congress.

Last week, the International Monetary Fund weighed in and urged the U.S. to raise the wage floor, saying it is low by both historical and international standards. The federal minimum wage in America was about 38 percent of the median wage in 2011, which is one of lowest percentages among the rich countries of the world.

FULL POST

How the World Cup has already changed Brazil
June 12th, 2014
12:37 PM ET

How the World Cup has already changed Brazil

By Peter Schechter, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Peter Schechter is director of the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center at the Atlantic Council, which has released the new policy brief Will Brazil get what it expects from the World Cup? The views expressed are his own.

As Brazilians prepare for the opening game of this year’s World Cup, the public can be expected to engage with their wonderful soccer team and perhaps look forward to some celebrating – after all, Brazil is a firm favorite with the bookmakers. But the doubts about the tournament – visible in protests, newspaper editorials, NGO activism on stadium cost overruns, strikes, and increasingly strident criticism of President Dilma Rousseff – speak to important questions about Brazil's future.

In fact, whatever happens over the next month, one thing is clear: Brazil is at a moment of profound transition. The "model" is in doubt.

Over the past decade, Brazil flourished partly due to the fast flow of high-priced commodities sold to China and the rest of the world. The government of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva brought innovative social experiments that raised millions from poverty. But Brazil neglected to prepare for the down cycle by reforming its economy and improving services. Now, reduced demand for exports and lower commodity prices are exposing the burdens of a vast state of 200 million citizens.

FULL POST

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Topics: Brazil • Economy
June 10th, 2014
08:59 AM ET

Why we should care about teeth whitening

For more What in the World watch Sundays at 10 a.m. & 1 p.m. ET on CNN

By Global Public Square staff

All eyes will be on the U.S. Supreme Court this month as it issues its final decisions before recessing for the summer. When it comes back in session (on the first Monday of October), it will likely hear a critical case. But the case is not about money in politics or affirmative action or the powers of the presidency – it's about whether you can get your teeth whitened at a kiosk in the mall.

What in the world?

You see, teeth whitening services have been in high demand since 1989. And, as with any billion-dollar business, people are keen to capitalize on the trend. In 2003, non-dentists in North Carolina started to provide peroxide whitening at significantly lower prices than dentists.

Not surprisingly, the dentists started complaining.

FULL POST

June 9th, 2014
12:28 PM ET

How the market can undermine terrorism

By Jay Cohen and Barry Blechman, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Jay Cohen (RADM, USN, Ret.) is a principal at Chertoff Group. Barry Blechman is a distinguished fellow at the Stimson Center. They are chair and vice chair, respectively, of Stimson’s Partners in Prevention Task Force, which released its final recommendations on May 29. The views expressed are their own.

On October 29, 2010, airplanes carrying two unremarkable packages left Yemen. Were it not for an eleventh-hour intelligence tip, the bomb inside each parcel, disguised by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb as a printer cartridge, likely would have continued to evade standard security checks and detonated over the eastern United States.

Despite its frantic search for a quick fix to prevent similar incidents in the future, the U.S. government surprised many by foregoing immediate regulatory action. Instead, it collaborated with the major express air delivery companies to enhance sharing of security information without hampering legitimate trade.

The result of those discussions – the Air Cargo Advance Screening regime – highlights one of the many ways government and industry can work together to create a successful solution to the challenge of maintaining security in a global economy. At once, globalization has opened opportunities for billions of people, but it has also empowered criminals and terrorists on a worldwide scale. Unfortunately, nearly four years after the cargo plane plot, many critical security gaps that take root in modern global trade remain.

FULL POST

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Topics: Economy • Terrorism
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