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How one woman harnessed people power to save old New York

New film tells story of Jane Jacobss battle’s against the wealthiest developers in the city.

She was a beaky, bespectacled architecture writer, hardly a figure likely to ignite protests that changed the shape of one of the worlds great cities. Yet such is the legend of Jane Jacobs and her bitter struggles to preserve the heart of New York from modernisation that a film charting her astonishing victories over some of the most powerful developers in the US is set to inspire a new generation of urban activists around the world.

Citizen Jane: Battle for the City tells the story of Jacobs, author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities, who made herself the bane of New Yorks powerful city planners from the 1950’s to 1970’s. Her nemesis was Robert Moses, the city’s powerful master builder and advocate of urban renewal, or wholesale neighbourhood clearance what author James Baldwin termed negro removal.

Moses dismissed the protesters as a bunch of mothers, and attempted to ignore their efforts to attract wider attention, which included taping white crosses across their glasses in the style of Jacobs.

But through a combination of grassroots activism, fundraising and persistence, Jacobs blocked Moses and successive city overlords from running Fifth Avenue through the historic Washington Square, tearing down much of SoHo and Little Italy to make way for a billion-dollar expressway, and building a six-lane highway up Manhattans west side.

“Some issues you fight with lawsuits and buy time that way,” she later wrote. “With others, you buy time by throwing other kinds of monkey wrenches in. You have to buy time in all these fights. The lawsuit is the more expensive way.”

Little
Little Italy, in New York, saved from demolition for a $1bn expressway. Photograph: Maremagnum/Getty Images

Jacobs warned of the dangers of mixing big business and government, and called them monstrous hybrids. She warned, too, that huge housing projects favoured by developers from the school of Le Corbusier would only bring social dislocation to the poor while making developers wealthy.

Jacobs’s method of prevarication, says Citizen Jane director Matt Tyrnauer, wrote the manual for activism. Speaking truth to power was her great strength, and she was fearless, but she was also a great strategist and analysed how to get to politicians and threaten them in ways that were going to be effective.

Robert Hammond, who produced Citizen Jane and co-founded the High Line, a significant renewal project along Manhattan’s west side that turned an elevated rail track into a garden and walkway, says key to her protest was targeting lower-tier elected officials because they depend on you for their jobs and they know it. She understood that fighting government is a slog, and no matter how powerful you think people are, things can be changed the value of individuals coming together and working as an organism, which today we call crowdsourcing.

Those lessons, in particular Jacobs’s later studies of economics, helped shape The Indivisible Project, an umbrella organisation for thousands of protest groups that have sprung up in the US in the aftermath of the presidential election.

Tyrnauer, who previously directed Valentino: The Last Emperor, considers that Indivisible’s activism, which includes berating local officials and challenging congressional leaders at town hall meetings, is cut from the Jacobs playbook. Late last year the group’s founders, four congressional aides moved to act by the election of Donald Trump, published suggestions that have become central to democratic resistance. Six thousand groups have registered so far, seeking to follow Indivisible’s basic, Jacobs-esque credo: localised defensive advocacy; recognition that elected representatives think primarily about re-election and how to use that; efforts to build constituent power through organically formed, locally led groups; and a focus on congressional representatives via town hall meetings, district office visits and mass phone calls.

Jane
Jane Jacobs won many victories over her nemesis Robert Moses, the powerful master builder. Photograph: Library of Congress/Sundance Selects

In her academic and personal life, Jacobs looked at the power individuals have in their own communities, says co-founder and executive director Ezra Levin. Indivisible is fundamentally about constituent power, and we recommend that people assert that power on their own turf, in their own communities. But the connection runs deeper. Jacobs maintained cities are best left to be self-organising. Too much control and they become lifeless. She believed they should be messy something old, something new and warned of the concentration of money and too little diversity. Crucial to Indivisible’s success is an individual group’s basic autonomy. “It’s crucial that this is not a franchise operation. We’ve created a platform but the decisions these groups are taking, or their exact form is fundamentally driven at a local level.”

Jacobs, who died in 2006 and whose centennial falls this year, used to tell an anti-authoritarian story about a preacher who warns children: In hell, there will be wailing and weeping and gnashing of teeth.

“What if you don’t have teeth?” one of the children asks.

Then teeth will be provided.

“That’s it the spirit of the designed city: teeth will be provided for you,” she told the New Yorker in 2004.

In Citizen Jane, the documentarians seek to apply the lessons of Manhattan in the 50’s to the urbanisation of China and India. The results are inconclusive.

Many of the challenges cities now face, at least in the west, are reversals of the clearances that affected cities in the last century. “The suburbs are where the poor people are moved to, and they’re becoming more impractical than cities to live in,” says Hammond.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/apr/22/jane-jacobs-people-power-saved-old-new-york-architecture-grassroots

Paul Beatty: For me, Trumps America has always existed

Booker prize winner says presidents rise is not a shock and race relations have improved very little, even under Obama.

When Donald Trump was being inaugurated, Paul Beatty was lying in bed with his wife, groggy with medication halfway around the world, in Jaipur, India. His book, The Sellout, a sarcastic, complex novel on race relations in the US, was the first American work to win the Man Booker prize, but Beatty, faced by a phalanx of cameras at a press conference at the Jaipur literature festivalon Saturday, refuses to play along and be the voice of black America that the journalists so desperately want him to be.

“I don’t claim to offer any special insight,” he says. “I read the same newspapers you all do.” Reclining on a large sofa hidden from the crowds of literature enthusiasts attending the festival, Beatty slumps as though a dark cloud is hanging over his head. His pessimism about America’s future seems to reflect the gloom of many Americans who watched the former reality-TV star take the oath on Friday.

“It’s like a big test and it’s like, is the world going to fail? [Trumps victory] is so symptomatic of so much thats happening [in the world]. In the States everybody pays attention, because supposedly the States is different. But this xenophobia, this fear, this insecurity, with [Indian prime minister Narendra] Modi here, [Rodrigo] Duterte in the Philippines, they’ve always been there, but the fact that they’re making progress, that’s scary.”

“Trump’s rise is difficult to comprehend,” Beatty says. “It’s like a diorama on how we do things against our own self- interest,” he says. “Despite his misogyny, his rhetoric, 48% of women voted for Trump, 8% of African-Americans.”

He muses that many who support Trump do so just to provoke reactions. “I had a friend who was telling me about this friend of hers who she sees as a progressive, nice guy. And for the past month [before the election], he’d been saying pro-Trump things as jokes. And in my head I was like, you know hes not joking. And she was like, you’re probably right. He’s just testing these trial balloons. And I bet there’s so many people like this.”

To Beatty, Trump stood out as particularly undignified against the dignified ritual of the inauguration. “It’s funny because you have this decorum, and this guy is anything but gracious, anything but. At least Barack Obama has a level of civility that Trump doesn’t.”

President
President Donald Trump shakes hands with Barack Obama after taking the oath of office. Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock

But watching him take the oath, Beatty felt none of the shock or horror that many liberal Americans have since election results were announced. “Trump’s America,” he says, “is one that has existed for a long time, and one that Beatty knows well. This is nothing new. To me thats the part that feels disingenuous. When people go, I don’t recognise this place. And I’m like, where have you been? That’s the part that bothers me. With the police violence people are like, oh I didn’t know. And it’s like people have been putting this in your face for ages and all of a sudden now why now?”

After Trump’s victory was announced, a class of students that he teaches at Columbia University in New York greeted him in tears. “They were distraught. They were inconsolable. They are in their early 20s, so they’ve grown up with whatever Obama does symbolise, they’ve grown up with that for a big part of their lives. They’ve come of age with it, and all of a sudden that’s gone.”

For many, Obama’s presidency marked an era of change in America. But Beatty always doubted the rosy image of improving race relations under the nations first black president that was presented at the time. Some of his students, he says, were horrified and hurt when their own parents started spouting pro-Trump rhetoric. “What’s to be hurt by? Why are you hurt? Is this new for you? How is this new?”

The existence of white supremacy, xenophobia and violence is something he and many of his generation of non-white Americans have grown up with. Beatty describes always feeling an outsider in his own country. “Maybe I just don’t feel accepted, so I don’t feel hurt. I’m not a patriot. It’s just my home, where I grew up, but hurt, no. I don’t have that parental relationship to the place. It’s like if my mom kicked me out of my house, I’m hurt. I don’t have that relationship to the government, to the people. I don’t.”

Beatty doesnt want to make predictions about the future (at least, not in public), but he fears Trump’s presidency will make life more difficult for black Americans. I think things can get worse. I have zero faith in this guy. Zero faith in the people that stand behind him.

Within hours of being inaugurated, the LGBT and climate change pages on the presidential website were taken down. This and Trump’s America first rhetoric were alarming, Beatty says.

So was his victory despite his refusal to release his tax returns during the election campaign, and the leaked tape of him boasting about sexually assaulting a woman that presented a dangerous and terrifying new reality, where people no longer care how their politicians behave.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/jan/22/paul-beatty-trumps-america-has-always-existed

Euro will fail in 10 years without reform Emmanuel Macron

French presidential candidate says currency amounts to a weak Deutsche Mark that has failed to unify EU states and stand up to the US dollar.

The euro may not exist in 10 years time if Paris and Berlin fail to bolster the single currency union, French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron has said, adding that the current system benefits Germany at the expense of weaker member states.

Macron was economy minister under Socialist President Franois Hollande until he resigned this year to create his own political movement and stand as an independent candidate in this years presidential election.

The truth is that we must collectively recognise that the euro is incomplete and cannot last without major reforms, Macron said in a speech at the Humboldt University in Berlin.

Speaking in English, he added: It has not provided Europe with full international sovereignty against the dollar on its rules. It has not provided Europe with a natural convergence between the different member states.

France must implement labour market reforms and revamp its education system to revive growth, while Germany must accept that more investment instead of austerity can boost growth across the eurozone area, the centrist politician said.

The dysfunctioning of the euro is of good use to Germany, I have to say, said Macron, adding that a lack of trust between France and Germany was blocking major reforms that would increase solidarity among the 19 members of the eurozone.

The euro is a weak Deutsche Mark, said Macron. The status quo is synonymous, in 10 years time, with the dismantling of the euro.

He proposed the creation of a eurozone budget to finance growth-oriented investments and to extend financial assistance to struggling member states.

However, this would be anathema to the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, whose conservatives face an election this year and have faced domestic resistance to bailouts for Greece by hawks who say such payments turn the euro zone into a transfer union.

Macron spoke after the co-leader of Germanys far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party earlier told Reuters the eurozone should be split into two with a strong cluster around Germany and a weak cluster including France.

Macron, a rare advocate in France of deeper European integration, has taken the unusual step of encouraging supporters to cheer the European Union at political rallies in contrast with other politicians who often rail against Brussels.

Macron, 39, has enjoyed a boost in recent polls, which show him cementing his position as the presidential elections third man and within a whisker of reaching the crucial second round runoff to be held in May.

An opinion poll last week showed conservative candidate Francois Fillons lead in Frances presidential election race had narrowed, with both Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen gaining on the former prime minister.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/11/euro-will-fail-in-10-years-without-reform-emmanuel-macron

Will scientists ever prove the existence of dark matter?

Astronomers in the US are setting up an experiment which, if it fails as others have could mark the end of a 30-year-old theory.

Deep underground, in a defunct gold mine in South Dakota, scientists are assembling an array of odd devices: a chamber for holding tonnes of xenon gas; hundreds of light detectors, each capable of pinpointing a single photon; and a vast tank that will be filled with hundreds of gallons of ultra-pure water. The project, the LZ experiment, has a straightforward aim: it is designed to detect particles of an invisible form of matter called dark matter as they drift through space.

It is thought there is five times more dark matter than normal matter in the universe, although it has yet to be detected directly. Finding it would solve one of sciences most baffling mysteries and explain why galaxies are not ripped apart by stars flying off into deep space.

However, many scientists believe time is running out for the hunt, which has lasted 30 years, cost millions of pounds and produced no positive results. The LZ project which is halfway through construction should be sciences last throw of the dice, they say. This generation of detectors should be the last, said astronomer Stacy McGaugh at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. If we dont find anything we should accept we are stuck and need to find a different explanation, perhaps by modifying our theories of gravity, to explain the phenomena we attribute to dark matter.

Other researchers reject this view: “Theory indicates we have a really good chance of finding dark matter particles,” said Chamkaur Ghag, chair of the Dark Matter UK consortium. “This is certainly not the time to talk of giving up.”

The concept of dark matter stems from observations made in the 1970s. Astronomers expected to find that stars rotated more slowly around a galaxy the more distant they were from the galaxys centre, just as distant planets revolve slowly round the Sun. (Outermost Neptune moves round the Sun at a stately 12,000mph; innermost Mercury does so at 107,082mph.)

That prediction was spectacularly undone by observations, however. Stars at a galaxys edge orbit almost as fast as those near its centre. According to theory, they should be hurled into space. So astronomers proposed that invisible dark matter must be providing the extra gravity needed to hold galaxies together. Proposed sources of dark matter include burnt-out stars; clouds of dust and gas; and subatomic particles called Wimps weakly interacting massive particles. All have since been discounted, except Wimps. Many astronomers are now convinced they permeate space and form halos round galaxies to give them the gravitational muscle needed to hold fast-flying stars in place.

Getting close to Wimps has not been easy. Scientists have built increasingly sensitive detectors deeper and deeper underground to protect them from subatomic particles that bombard Earths surface and which would trigger spurious signals. These devices resemble huge Russian dolls: a vast metal tank containing water to provide added protection against incoming stray particles is erected and, within this, a giant sphere of an inert gas such as xenon is suspended. Wimps making it through to the final tank should occasionally strike a xenon nucleus, producing a flash of light that can be pinpointed by electronic detectors.

Despite three decades of effort, this approach has had no success, a failure that is starting to worry some researchers. We are now building detectors containing more and more xenon and which are a million times more sensitive than those we used to hunt Wimps 30 years ago, said astrophysicist Professor David Merritt, of the Rochester Institute of Technology, New York. And still we have found nothing.

Last July, scientists reported that after running their Large Underground Xenon (Lux) experiment for 20 months they had still failed to spot a Wimp. Now an upgraded version of Lux is being built the LZ detector, a US-UK collaboration while other devices in Canada and Italy are set to run searches.

The problem facing Wimp hunters is that as their detectors get ever more sensitive, they will start picking up signals from other weakly interacting particles called neutrinos. Tiny, almost massless, these constantly whizz through our planet and our bodies. Neutrinos are not nearly heavy enough to account for the gravitational abnormalities associated with dark matter but are still likely to play havoc with the next generation of Wimp detectors.

I believe the Wimp hypothesis will be truly dead when we reach that point, said McGaugh. It already has serious problems but if we get to the point where we are picking up all this background interaction, the game is up. You will not be able to spot a thing.

This point is rejected by Ghag. “Yes, occasionally a neutrino will kick a xenon nucleus and produce a result that resembles a Wimp interaction. We will, initially, be in trouble. But as we characterise the collisions we should find ways to differentiate them and concentrate only on those produced by Wimps.”

But there is no guarantee that Wimps if they exist will ever interact with atoms of normal matter. You can imagine a scenario where dark matter particles turn out to be so incredibly weak at interacting with normal matter that our detectors will never see anything, said cosmologist Andrew Pontzen, of University College London.

Indeed, it could transpire that a Wimp is completely incapable of interacting with normal matter. You would then be saying we can only make sense of the universe by proposing a hypothetical particle that we can never detect, said Pontzen. Philosophically that is a highly unsatisfactory situation. You would be saying you cannot prove or disprove a key hypothesis that underpins scientificunderstanding.

However, Pontzen also pointed out that dark matter has proved invaluable in making scientific predictions and should not be dismissed too quickly. Scientists in the late 20th century attempted to predict what the cosmic background radiation left behind by the Big Bang 13 billion years ago might look like. Those who used dark matter in their calculations were found to have got things spectacularly right when we later flew probes to study that radiation background. It shows there was dark matter right at the birth of the universe.

McGaugh is unconvinced. He points to the failure of Geneva’s Large Hadron Collider, used to find the Higgs boson, to produce particles that might hint at the existence of Wimps. It was hailed as the golden test but it has produced nothing, just like the other experiments. Instead, more effort should be directed to developing new theoretical approaches to understanding gravity, he argues. One such theory is known as modified Newtonian dynamics, or Mond. It suggests that variations in the behaviour of gravity could account for the unexpected star speeds. “Such approaches should take precedence if LZ should fail to find dark matter in the next two or three years,” McGaugh said.

Ghag disagrees. “I think it is ridiculous to suggest we stop, he said. Are we just going to say OK, we have no idea what makes up 85% of the universe just because we are finding it all a bit hard? That’s not realistic.”

The uncertain nature of the problem was summed up by Pontzen. “We have been looking for dark matter for so long. Sometimes I think I should get real and admit something is up. On the other hand, the technology is getting better and we are opening up new possibilities of where to find dark matter. Which of these scenarios I feel closest to depends what sort of day I am having.”

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/dec/31/dark-matter-existence-space-astronomers-us-experiment

US could wait until next summer to raise interest rates, say economists

Surveyed experts predicted last weeks rate rise would be followed by two more next year, not three.

The Federal Reserve could wait until at least next summer before raising interest rates again, according to Wall Street economists surveyed by the Financial Times. Expectations that a rate rise last week by the US central bank would be followed by three more next year were played down by the 31 economists surveyed, who predicted only two rises were likely.

The New York Dow Jones index soared last week to within 160 points of a record 20,000 amid forecasts that a huge stimulus package in the first year of Donald Trumps presidency would trigger an economic boom.

While Trump has promised to cut taxes affecting middle-income earners and pump funds into major infrastructure projects, many economists are wary that Congress could delay or block the moves, fearing a steep rise in the governments budget deficit.

Global growth will improve next year but remain under its long-term trend, Gregory Daco, an economist with Oxford Economics, told the newspaper. Trumps policies, and the expectation of them, will be pivotal to global developments.

The strengthening of the dollar is also likely to hit exports and increase the price of imports, increasing the US balance of payments deficit.

The value of companies in the Dow Jones index has almost doubled since the 11,500 it recorded at the height of the tech boom in 1999, while the UKs FTSE 100 index of top companies languished on Friday at only slightly above 1999’s 6,950 at 7011.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/dec/18/us-could-wait-until-next-summer-to-raise-interest-rates-say-economists

Patti Smith falters in Stockholm tribute to an absent Bob Dylan

Representing the Nobel laureate at the prize-giving, the US singer admitted nerves in performance at Swedish academy.

A very nervous Patti Smith initially stumbled through A Hard Rains A-Gonna Fall in Stockholm on Saturday in a performance given to mark Bob Dylans Nobel prize for literature.

Making the award, Horace Engdahl, a Swedish literary historian and critic and member of the Swedish academy that awards the prize, responded to international criticism of the choice of a popular lyricist as recipient.

Engdahl said that when Dylan’s songs were heard first in the 1960s, all of a sudden much of the bookish poetry in our world felt anaemic.

The academy’s choice of Dylan, Engdahl said in Swedish, seemed daring only beforehand and already seems obvious.

And it was an unconventional prize-giving night in more ways than one. Dylan’s failure to attend the August gathering in Stockholm meant that Smith, the American singer most famous for her 1975 album, Horses, and the hit song Because the Night, was attending as his proxy.

The occasion proved too much for the singer, 69, who faltered after a few verses. Forgetting the lyric ‘I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin,’ she apologised quietly but profusely to the jewel-bedecked audience and asked if she could start that section of the song again. “I am so nervous,” she explained.

Smith was encouraged by applause from the gathered dignatories and members of the Swedish royal family.

Her performance followed Engdahl’s justificatory speech, which opened with the question: “What brings about the great shifts in the world of literature? Often it is when someone seizes upon a simple, overlooked form, discounted as art in the high sense, and makes it mutate.”

In this way, Engdahl argued, the novel had once emerged from anecdote and letters, while drama had eventually derived from games and performance.

“In the distant past all poetry was sung or tunefully recited,” he said. “Dylan had dedicated himself to music played for ordinary people and tried to copy it.”

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/dec/10/patti-smith-falters-in-stockholm-tribute-to-an-absent-bob-dylan

First edition of Isaac Newton’s Principia set to fetch $1m at auction

Rare European copy of key mathematics text is going under hammer at Christies in New York with record guide price.

A first edition of Sir Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica could become the most expensive print sold of the revolutionary text when it goes under the hammer with a guide price of at least $1m (790,000) this month.

The extremely rare continental copy being sold by auction house Christies in New York is one of a handful of texts thought to have been destined for Europe and has minor differences from those distributed in England by Newton and the book’s editor, Edmond Halley.

The list price of between $1m and $1.5m is thought to be a record for the book. An English version also bound in red morocco leather, which was said to have been presented to King James II, sold for more than $2.5m in 2013. Its list price was $600,000.

About 400 copies of Principia’s first edition were printed, of which the continental versions accounted for about 20%. Halley, the astronomer best known for the comet named after him, encouraged Newton to organise his theories into a text and paid for the printing because the Royal Society of which he and Newton were members had run out of funds.

The society retains two copies of the book, including the original manuscript on which the first print run in 1687 was based, which is described as its greatest treasure.

Written in Latin, the books full title is Philosophi Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy). It laid out Newton’s groundbreaking theories in areas such as gravity and the forces of motion, and introduced a more rigorous mathematical method to physical science.

Keith Moore, the head of the Royal Society library, described it as a benchmark in human thought.

“It’s not just the history and development of science; it’s one of the greatest books ever published,” he said. “It was hugely influential in terms of applying mathematics to basic physical problems.”

Moore said the large sum set to be attracted by the book could be in part due to the growing influence of science within culture, as well as the huge earnings of some technology entrepreneurs.

“People who have big books these days maybe are the kinds of people who have made their money on the internet or the web … If you have a few million quid to spend, why wouldnt you buy a copy of Principia Mathematica?

“If you’ve made your money from a really cool algorithm, you will probably appreciate Newtonian physics.”

Despite its wide-ranging impact, and the books use as a foundational physics text being unsurpassed until Einstein’s general theory of relativity, Principia did not make a list last year of the top 20 most important academic books of all time. The list was topped by Charles Darwins On the Origin of Species.

But because it was published almost two centuries earlier, first editions of Principia are rarer and likely to continue selling for far larger amounts. One of the highest prices paid for a first edition of Darwins book laying out the theory of evolution was 103,000 in 2009, and subsequent sales have been lower.

While the prices differ, the impact of the two texts was comparable, Moore said. What Newton does in the 1680’s is revolutionise the physical sciences. The fundamental laws of physics.

Darwin’s great work published in 1859 revolutionised the biological sciences in the same way. They are similar books in the impact they had.

  • The picture caption on this article was amended on 5 December 2016 to clarify that the copy of Principia Mathematica up for sale is not the one held by Cambridge University.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/dec/05/principia-sir-isaac-newton-first-edition-auction-christies-new-york

The Guardian view on globalisation: its death is the making of it | Editorial

Editorial: We may be at a turning point in the nature of capitalism. That may not be such a bad thing.

Ever since US presidential candidates railed against free trade, and anti-immigrant parties madesweeping gains in Europe, the question has been asked: are we witnessing the demiseof globalisation? A trend that has dominated economics and trade for decades appears to be coming to an end. As a percentage of global GDP, world exports, which have been on a slow steady decline in the past two years, have peaked. Fines on multinationals have reached record levels. Chinas breakneck industrialisation is probably over. Britain, a nation famous for building its empire on trade, will exit the worlds biggest free-trade area Europe by the end of this decade. Donald Trump, an opponent of free-trade deals all his public life, is about to become president of the United States. These signs point to the slow death of the form of globalisation that the rich world has invented, refined and patrolled since the end of the second world war. For many, the period from 1980 to 2008 marks the high-water mark of such policies a period that came to an end with global financial crisis. There is a worry that these years resemble the previously most integrated period of world history: the Gilded Age between 1870 and 1914. This ended bloodily with the first world war.

However, history does not necessarily repeat itself. It is important to note that global prosperity is bigger than any one nation. Some of the reason for the flattening off in the globalising trend is mathematical: poorer economies are growing faster than richer ones, and they import less. As developing nations share of global GDP rises, the effect will be to shrink the ratio of trade to global income. Others could take Chinas place as a driver of worldwide growth: India is probably the only country that has the potential to mount a transformation of similar scale and global consequence. Also a number of fast-growing nations could re-energise the pattern of global growth. The International Monetary Fund suggests that 6% annual growth in a dozen countries with a combined GDP of $4tn would add more to the global economy than the eurozone growing at full tilt.

Yet these feel like the wrong questions and answers. We need to settle whether globalisation in its current incarnation aids or relieves poverty in an equitable way. Given the worldwide revolts on the right and left of politics, the answer would seem to be that it doesnt. Fairer arrangements will help poor nations get richer. Trade is not a zero-sum game: all should benefit from engaging in it. But the world that exists has not been designed this way. The thinking that has dominated recent decades comes from classical free-trade theory which holds that although imports do cost jobs, exports will generate new ones and competition keeps prices low, so, over time, everyone gains. However, recent academic research tells a different story. When economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology looked at the impact of the trade relationship between the United States and China they found a heavy cost to American workers. When jobs vanish, the MIT paper found, the better-trained workers would bounce back, but many blue-collar workers did not. Losses in manufacturing are magnified by being geographically concentrated and entire communities were punished. Little wonder perhaps that Mr Trumps protectionist message has been central to the populist campaign that has made him the president-elect.

The trick is not to retreat behind walls. That would see a return to beggar-thy-neighbour policies and the threat of war. Policymakers must go back to watching the numbers that matter to left-behind communities: the trade deficit. International prices must be fairly set so exports are not artificially expensive and imports are not artificially cheap. Imports from nations where labour rights are trampled need addressing. These are concerns that sensible thinkers on the left have raised for years most notably the Nobel prize-winner Joseph Stiglitz, who has long worried about the corporate capture of trade deals. His warning that President Obamas Trans-Pacific Partnership operated under rules that would harm the economy and US workers was a call that went unheeded by Democrats until it was too late. Work must be done to resolve the tensions between democracy, the nation state and global economic integration. Trade deals need to show nations are open for business by putting peoples interests, not corporate interests, at their heart. We may be at a turning point in the nature of capitalism. That may not be such a bad thing.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/20/the-guardian-view-on-globalisation-its-death-is-the-making-of-it

Greek prime minister reshuffles cabinet to boost bailout reforms

Alexis Tsipras says time has come to speed up measures agreed with the country’s international creditors.

The Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, has reshuffled his government to boost bailout reforms in the hope of getting the EU to agree to critical debt relief by the end of the year.

Heralding a new political era for his country, the embattled leader said on Sunday the time had come to expedite measures demanded by international creditors and turn the page. Hardline ministers who had criticised policies including privatisations were dumped for moderate technocrats in what was interpreted as a further shift to the centre by the man who once personified the hope of Europes radical left.

“We are very near the end of a long period of very difficult decisions,” he told his newly assembled cabinet. Tsipras said reform negotiations had to be concluded by 5 December so that eurozone finance ministers, holding their last meeting this year, could begin debating how best to cut the countrys debt.

At over 320bn (285bn), Greece’s debt pile is regarded as its biggest impediment to economic recovery.

In a move aimed at placating the lenders who have bailed out Greece three times since its economic near-collapse six years ago, the respected US-based economics professor Dimitri Papadimitriou was appointed economy minister. The 70-year-old head of the Levy Economics Institute, a thinktank, will have oversight of investment policies and EU structural funds.

Signalling he would push ahead with the often unpopular policies demanded by Greeces lenders the European Union and the International Monetary Fund Tsipras also retained the finance minister, Euclid Tsakalotos. The Oxford-educated economics professor has won plaudits for his low-key efficacy, in sharp contrast to his forerunner, Yanis Varoufakis.

Stergios Pitsiorlas, a veteran leftist who helped found the ruling Syriza party, was elevated to the position of deputy economy minister. In his previous role as chairman of Greeces privatisation agency, Pitsiorlas had been praised for his no-nonsense approach to disposing of cash-draining state assets. The shipping minister, Theodoros Dritsas, who was against further investment in Piraeus port by the Chinese conglomerate Cosco was among those dropped, while Panos Skourletis, the energy and environment minister, who had vehemently opposed the partial privatisation of the Public Power Corporation, was moved to the interior ministry.

Skourletis, an established Syriza figure, was described by insiders as too powerful to be removed altogether. He was replaced by George Stathakis who had held the economy ministry portfolio.

The septuagenarian leftist ideologue Aristides Baltas, who had been culture minister, was similarly replaced by Lydia Koniordou, Greeces foremost female classical actor.

A new migration ministry was also established, reflecting the countrys frontline role in the refugee crisis and allowing the deputy migration minister, Ioannis Mouzalas, to tap into resources and administrative backup in his promoted role as minister.

The popularity of Tsiprass two-party coalition has been in free-fall. A Public Issue poll last week put the government 24 percentage points behind the centre right New Democracy, the main opposition party. Tax increases and sustained cuts to wages and benefits have corroded its support with thousands of pensioners recently taking to the streets in protest in Athens.

With many of the measures beginning to bite this winter, the challenges remain immense for the country still seen as Europes weakest link. Tsipras told his 48-member cabinet that by completing reforms Greece could follow the roadmap of being included in the European Central Banks quantitative easing programme early next year, which would see the bank acquire Greek government debt. The government is also aiming to regain access to debt markets by the time its latest bailout expires in 2018.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/06/greek-prime-minister-tsipras-reshuffles-cabinet-to-boost-bailout-reforms

Natural disasters push 26m into poverty each year, says World Bank

Study finds floods, storms and droughts cost global economy $520bn a year and highlights need to tackle climate change.

Floods, earthquakes, tsunamis and other extreme natural disasters push 26 million people into poverty each year and cost the global economy more than half a trillion dollars in lost consumption, the World Bank has said.

A bank study of 117 countries concluded that the full cost of natural disasters was $520bn (416bn) a year 60% higher than any previous estimate once the impact on poor people was taken into account.

The World Bank published its findings at the COP22 climate change conference in Marrakech and said the report underlined the need to protect the most vulnerable against the effects of global warming.

Jim Kim, the World Banks president, said: Severe climate shocks threaten to roll back decades of progress against poverty. Storms, floods, and droughts have dire human and economic consequences, with poor people often paying the heaviest price. Building resilience to disasters not only makes economic sense, it is a moral imperative.

The report cited evidence from the impact of Tropical Storm Agatha in 2010, which led to consumption per head falling by 5.5% and increased poverty by 14%.

Policies that made countries more resilient to extreme natural disasters and improved early warning systems could bring benefits of $100bn a year, the bank said.

It cited the examples of Kenya, where the countrys social protection system had provided help to vulnerable farmers well before the 2015 drought, and Pakistan, where a rapid response programme of cash grants after severe floods in 2010 had benefited 8 million people.

Stephane Hallegatte, who prepared the World Bank report, said: Countries are enduring a growing number of unexpected shocks as a result of climate change. Poor people need social and financial protection from disasters that cannot be avoided. With risk policies that we know to be effective, we have the opportunity to prevent millions of people from falling into poverty.

The banks research showed that previous studies had underestimated the impact of natural disasters because they had measured the cost by assessing damage to physical assets.

Costs were much higher when lost consumption of poor people who have fewer assets than the better off was taken into account.

It said $1 in losses did not mean the same to a rich person and poor person.

The same loss affects poor and marginalised people far more because their livelihoods depend on fewer assets, their consumption is closer to subsistence levels, they cannot rely on savings to smooth the impacts, their health and education are at greater risk, and they may need more time to recover and reconstruct.

A flood or an earthquake can be disastrous for poor people, but have a negligible impact on a countrys wealth or production if it affects people who own almost nothing and have very low incomes.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/nov/14/natural-disasters-poverty-world-bank-climate-change

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