30 March 2017   Leave a comment

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is in Turkey, one of the members of NATO and an important US ally.  Both sides wish to defeat Daesh (the Islamic State), but have serious disagreements about whether the Kurds should be allies in that fight.  The dispute is coming to a head, as anti-Daesh forces are mobilizing to retake the city of Raqqa, Syria, which is a Daesh stronghold.  Turkey regards the Kurds as a greater threat than Daesh, but the Kurds have proven to be very effective ground troops against them.  In the absence of the Kurds, the US might have to substantially increase its own ground troop support.

The election of Donald Trump has raised serious questions among many US allies about the direction of US foreign economic policy.  Not surprisingly, these questions have affected the International Monetary Fund (IMF) dramatically since the US is one of the largest supporters of the Fund and traditionally has been one of its most outspoken supporters.  But the decision by US Secretary of the Treasury Stephen Mnuchin to excise all mention of free trade from the recent G20 declaration have left the policymakers in the IMF unsure of future US support.  Germany has emerged as the strongest economy willing to speak out forcefully on behalf of liberal economic policies, and the IMF is working hard to nurture German economic leadership.  We will have to see if Japan and South Korea decide to move closer to Germany in that role.

The growth on income inequality in the US (and in the world as a whole) since the 1970s is quite striking, but what is also striking is how different the pattern of the growth of income in the US has differed in that period from previous historical periods in the US.  Pavlina R. Tcherneva has written a short essay on this phenomenon, and her conclusions are troubling:

“In sum, the growth pattern that emerged in the 80s and delivered increasing income inequality is alive and well. The rising tide no longer lifts most boats. Instead the majority of gains go to a very small segment of the population.”

This disturbing trend is not an accident but rather the consequence of discrete political decisions.

 

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Posted March 30, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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