Almost three years since the financial crisis upended the global economy, it still seems possible that the Great Recession will define this century, just as the Great Depression defined the previous one. Lately, however, hopes for Recovery have replaced the darkest fears of Recession. Paths have begun to appear out of the deep wilderness of despair. How fragile is our recovery? How vulnerable is it to new shocks—and how might those be prevented? With stories and analysis from China, Russia, Brazil, Australia, India, Spain and elsewhere, the Spring 2011 issue of World Policy Journal looks around the world for green shoots that could lead to a promising future, while at the same time considering some cautionary tales.
Elsewhere in the magazine, feature articles explore the interactions between Afghan villagers and Americans soldiers in the Korengal Valley; a rape epidemic in post-earthquake Haiti; the growing power of Russia’s intelligence services; a land grab in Africa; the ongoing conflict in Cyprus; the battle for the Amazon; and the future of Europe.
Big Question: Paths Out of the Wilderness
World Policy Journal asks a panel of global experts to weigh in the most innovative approaches to spurring or sustaining the global economic recovery. Featuring Esther Duflo, Emmanuel Asmah, Timothy A. Wise and other leading thinkers.
Map Room: China in Africa
Surveying the breadth and depth of China’s often-controversial investments in Africa
We Are What We Measure
The financial crisis revealed, and was in part due to, the limitations of the economic data we have relied on since the Great Depression. Matthew Bishop (the New York bureau chief of The Economist) and Michael Green argue that we need statistics that contribute to a richer debate about the state of our societies and the choices we face—not numbers that reduce reality to the point of distortion.
Anatomy of a Crisis: Ireland’s Agony
Unpacking the financial collapse of the Emerald Isle
Recovery Under the Banyan
Gandhi would have understood our current mess—and some of his ideas could help us out of it. Econo-philosopher Rajni Bakshi explores what Gandhian thought might tell us about the true meaning of “recovery.”
New Capitols of Capital
Do Shanghai, Moscow, and São Paulo have what it takes to become global financial centers? Andrew Galbraith, Miriam Elder, and Jeb Blount weigh the strengths and weaknesses of their respective cities, each of which is positioning itself as a potential rival to New York, London, and Tokyo.
A Conversation with Justin Yifu Lin
China’s Justin Yifu Lin, the first chief economist of the World Bank to hail from a developing country, believes the world must move beyond Keynesian models of economic growth and stimulus. He explains his vision in a conversation with the editors of World Policy Journal.
The Luckiest Country
How did Australia avoid the global recession? In a word: China. Australia’s natural resources—especially its coal—fueled China’s growth for the past decade. Michael Stutchbury, economics editor of The Australian, considers whether the rewards Australia reaped are sustainable, and whether the country’s increasingly divisive politics will threaten its economic good fortune.
The Pain in Spain
Nearly five million Spaniards—20.3 percent of the workforce—were unemployed in 2010. Among them are the 15 percent of those between the ages of 16 and 24 who neither work nor study. Yet this ni-ni generation—short for ni estudian, ni trabajan (“they don’t study, they don’t work”)—is just one casualty of Spain’s unemployment crisis. Borja Bergareche, the digital editor of Spain’s ABC, reflects on how joblessness is corroding the very character of the nation.
Into the Korengal
Photojournalist Tim Hetherington chronicles what happened when American soldiers built a small outpost deep in Afghanistan’s isolated Korengal Valley. As the lines between combatant and civilian blurred, American efforts to build trust were undermined by civilian casualties and culture clashes. Restrepo, a film on this topic produced and directed by Hetherington and Sebastian Junger, was nominated last year for an Academy Award for Best Documentary.
During the past three decades, as Europe came together, Cyprus stayed divided. Nicholas Bray reports on Cyprus’s uncertain path to unity, reminding us that the island is also a fault line—between East and West, Christianity and Islam, atavistic nationalism and borderless globalization.
Russia’s Very Secret Services
Aided by the rise of Vladimir Putin, an ex-KGB officer, Russia’s intelligence agencies have become increasingly influential. Investigative journalists Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan examine the often violent results of these agencies’ efforts to reassert Russian power in the former Soviet sphere of influence—from extra-legal renditions to assassinations.
“I feel like God is punishing me,” says a woman who was repeatedly raped in the aftermath of last year’s earthquake in Haiti. As Clancy Nolan reveals, it’s a sentiment shared by many Haitian women as they confront an epidemic of rape in a country still reeling from the quake’s destruction—a country that also has a troubling history of tolerating sexual violence. Nolan reports on some innovative approaches to stopping the violence, and some heroic Haitians and international NGOs who have set out to help victims. Yet without progress on the larger problems of funding the reconstruction and establishing rule-of-law, it seems unlikely that even the best-intentioned efforts can solve this particularly gruesome form of aftershock.
African Land, Up For Grabs
Ashwin Parulkar reports on a 21st-century land grab in Africa. Prior to 2008, foreign investors acquired an average of 10 million acres of farmland each year. In 2009, they acquired 111 million acres, nearly 75 percent of it in sub-Saharan Africa. It’s a transfer of control unprecedented in the postcolonial era. Many claim it is leading to the displacement of tens of thousands of poor, rural villagers.
The Devil’s Curve
Last summer, a road leading to a remote Amazonian village was the site of an intense clash between Peruvian security forces and an alliance of activists and indigenous people opposed to the government’s plan to open the rainforest to oil exploration and mining. Thirty-four people died in the violence. As Emily Schmall explains, the showdown may prove to be a prelude to a regional conflict pitting the need for economic growth against environmental preservation and the rights of indigenous peoples.
Coda: Europe’s Last Word
The nations of Europe “have become less sure of precisely what they represent anymore, to themselves and to the world,” writes David A. Andelman, Editor of World Policy Journal, in his column. Nowhere is this clearer than in France, an increasingly divided country where, Andelman reports, one no longer hears the dynamic social and political dialogue that defined French political culture in earlier eras.