Monthly Archives: September 2010

In this week’s podcast: We look at the many controversies courted by France’s president Sarkozy, at the Pope’s visit to Britain and at the survival of the Japanese prime minister Naoto Kan.
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Gideon Rachman

This morning, back in London, I moderated a discussion of the German Marshall Fund’s annual survey of public opinon of both sides of the Atlantic – Transatlantic Trends.

As usual, it makesfor fascinating reading. The major headlines, I guess were “Europeans still love Obama, but are wary of US foreign policy”  and “Americans think can Afghanistan can be won, Europeans don’t.” But there were lots of other gripping little snippets. Read more

Gideon Rachman

It’s strange to recall that – just a decade ago – the World Trade Organisation was a deeply controversial organisation. It was the WTO that was fingered by the anti-globalisation movement as the handmaiden of ruthless western capitalism and oppressor-in-chief of the poor. The WTO summit in Seattle in 1999 degenerated into a street riot.

On Wednesday morning, however, the WTO staged a public forum in Geneva, without the need for riot police – and indeed without much public fuss at all. I chaired the opening session at the organisation’s modest headquarters on the banks of Lac Leman. Read more

Gideon Rachman FT column: Why 9/15 changed more than 9/11

My latest column is on the anniversaries of 9/11 and 9/15.

America commemorates two grim anniversaries this month: 9/11 and 9/15. Almost a decade has passed since hijacked aircraft flew into the twin towers, killing nearly 3,000 people and transforming America’s relations with the world. Two years have elapsed since the collapse of Lehman Brothers triggered a global financial crisis and provoked fears of a new Great Depression.

Gideon Rachman

As the friendly and not-so-friendly fire continues to pour down on me, following my article about economists, I am grateful for support from whatever source. But it’s particularly pleasing to get it from within the serried ranks of economists.

Phillippe Legrain, a former colleague and author of learned (and lively) books on trade and on the global economy, attempts to arbitrate in a friendly fashion between me and Tim Harford. Apparently we’re both right. Or possibly just talking at cross purposes.

Why should China’s communist rulers care about a modest book written in a language that most of their people cannot read that is not even for sale in the country? Apparently, they care very much. Soon after my book, ‘The Party: The Secret World of China’s Communist Rulers’ was released in June, the Amazon page displaying the book was blocked by the Great Firewall in China. Read more

Follow President Obama’s press conference here live from 11am Washington time, with Washington Bureau Chief Edward Luce.

12:23pm - Most of the pundits expected a press conference that would be more dominated by the president’s economic woes in the context of the upcoming mid-term elections. Certainly that was a key part of it – and the least convincing in terms of the president’s performance.

But in the event, the real theme that emerged was about 9/11, Afghanistan, the crazy pastor in Florida and the need to treat American Muslims as brothers and sisters. It was striking how good, impassioned and convincing President Obama was on the second half of the 77 minute press conference that was dominated by the Islam theme (for want of a better heading) against the very familiar and unconvincing answers he gave on the economy in the first half. As the conference moved from the first to the second, President Obama appeared to pick up the energy, verve and persuasiveness that had been so lacking in the first half. Read more

In this week’s podcast: With the mid-term elections looming we look at where the Democrats are in the popularity stakes and we ask whether Obama’s promise to fight for an extension of tax breaks for the majority of Americans will be enough to save the party. After that we look to Australia and the formation of the first minority government in over 60 years.  Read more

Gideon Rachman

Private Eye, the British satirical magazine, has a nice euphemism – “tired and emotional”, which stands for drunk. Sha Zukang, the senior Chinese diplomat at the UN, seems to have become a little tired and emotional at a recent dinner for senior UN officials, including the secretary-general, according to this interesting account from Foreign Policy’s “Turtle Bay” blog.

In truth, the actual quotes seem rather less explosive than Foreign Policy’s promise of an ” intoxicated rant against the United Nations, the United States, and his boss.” Still, embarrassing enough. Read more

Gideon Rachman

I have been absolutely deluged with letters, comments and e-mails, provoked by my column on economists and historians. One of the most interesting notes I got was from a French economic journalist, Christian Chavagneux, who makes the following point: ” One way to advance your ideas would be to call for the end of the so called “Nobel Prize” in Economics. You know that Alfred Nobel never intended to reward economists as great scientists and that the Prize is given by the Bank of Sweden. Thanks to a cuckoo in the nest strategy it obtained to award it at the same time as the real Nobel Prizes to make believe that economists were as much scientists as physicians and mathematicians and as useful as doctors ! In our magazine we now write about Paul Krugman or J. Stiglitz as The Bank of Sweden prize economists.” Read more