9 February 2017

Robert Kagan is a reliably smart conservative analyst of international relations who brings a deep understanding of history to his commentary.  He has written an essay for Foreign Policy that examines the possibility of “shared” power among the US, China, and Russia in a global balance of power.  The idea is one of a condominium of power with clearly defined spheres of influence.  Kagan is highly skeptical of such an arrangement and outlines the reasons why such a world order would likely be unstable.

President Trump has finally sent a message to China.  Amid all the flurry of telephone calls to world leaders, Mr. Trump did not call President Xi of China.  Instead of a telephone call, Mr. Trump has sent a letter to Mr. Xi.  The letter was cordial, but it is curious that there was such a delay in contacting the US’s largest trading partner and the country with the world’s largest population.  Mr. Trump did not hesitate to call President Putin even though the relations with Russia are highly problematic as well.  The Chinese media in English has mentioned the letter, but the Chinese speaking media has yet to refer to the letter.

The Greek economy has been in a constant state of crisis since the onset of the Great Recession in 2008-09.  The Greek state owes €330 billion, a debt burden that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) regards as unsustainable and impossible to repay.  On 26 January William Murray, deputy spokesman in the Communications Department at the International Monetary Fund gave a press conference and stated:

“And, again, to repeat what we’ve said in communications, and senior management of the Fund has said many times, we do not think Greece needs more austerity now, and we can go along with a program with a primary surplus target of 1.5 percent of GDP, consistent with the policies now underway, and a commensurate debt relief. But if Greece and its European partners decide on a higher primary surplus for a temporary period, we would need to evaluate the policies that could credibly support that target.”

Both Germany and the Netherlands are in fact demanding more austerity even though the IMF refuses to support that policy.  The impasse between the IMF and the hard-line states in the EU makes it nearly impossible for Greece to repay its debts on schedule.  The EU will likely try to muddle through this crisis, but with elections scheduled in France, the Netherlands, and Germany this year, the Greek debt will continue to rattle the political economy of Europe.

Image result for greek GDP

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Posted February 9, 2017 by vferraro1971

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