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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Angus Maddison

Angus Maddison, the great economic historian, whose life work is encapsulated in a strikingly useful (and user-friendly) global-comparative data-set about economic performance and population change (without which my work over the last 8-10 years, including this book, would simply not have been possible) has passed away at the age of 84. http://www.ggdc.net/maddison/

Thursday, April 15, 2010

IMHO, News of the EU's Death Is Grossly Exaggerated (although we should always listen carefully to George Soros)

George Soros thinks not only that "[i]t is 50-50 whether the euro zone breaks up," but that even "the European Union itself [is] at risk of breaking up."

This would be a sensible expectation, I suppose, if the EURO, or the shared monetary and fiscal policies it rests on, were the only thing that kept the European Union together.

I don't think that is the case. As I argue in my book :-), the EU is, at its heart, also a geopolitical project, devised under circumstances that have been trying not only for west European capital, but also for west European states. The EU is a response to those trying circumstances (especially the west European states' and west European capital's endemic problems of size and global economic weight).

Since its creation two generations ago, the organization we call the EU today has advanced to a level far beyond a monetary union or a shared economic policy. Although it is not a state, it is definitely a supra-state polity of sorts by now, and its breakup would cause, as pretty much everybody at the helm of the EU as well as the member states seems to agree, damages way beyond the cost of ostensibly "helping out the profligate southerners." (I love this language of "the southerners", as if written to please graduate students interested in critical race theory.)

Anyway, my bet is 90:10 for the survival of the EU :-)).

Friday, April 9, 2010

Demand Dignity

Forced evictions, from Italy through Greece to Serbia to Romania. Who could the victims be? You guessed it: the Roma. Amnesty International does an OK job about calling attention to this. I'm sure this is useful--but, to my taste, there is a little too much talk of housing and rights, and too little of the colonial roots of racism and the ways in which the project of "European construction" is implicated in the perpetuation of the latter. But, I guess, that's just how NGO politics works.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

To Bail or Not To Bail

The bickering, as it is obvious to anyone following European politics, continues as to whether the EU, the Eurozone, the IMF, or who knows what external force, should bail out Greece. The latest is a proposal about splitting the Euro into two: one called Euronord, the other Eurosud. I find this absolutely brilliant. But why stop at "north/south"? Why not split along, oh, I don't know, perhaps the borders of the member states?

In my opinion, this is a superbly clear example of the complex global geopolitical entity, the EU, dancing a two-step routine: acting, in one context, as a single entity and, in another, as an (or more) ad hoc group(s) of its members. I call this routine in chapter 4 of my book the elasticity of size. For more, see it there . . .

cover page of the book

cover page of the book
image used for the cover design by Anannya Dasgupta