Monday, May 17, 2010

Euro, Yuan, Dollar

The difficult trick of rebalancing the world's leading currencies.

Text of My Collège de France Lecture

The Collège de France has posted the text of my lecture here.

Olivier Roy on Islam in Europe

A very interesting interview with Olivier Roy on Islam in Europe.

Book Announcement

I am pleased to announce a recent book by a fellow Tocquevillean and translator, Alan Kahan. Here is a description: "For the past 150 years, Western intellectuals have trumpeted contempt for capitalism and capitalists. They have written novels, plays, and manifestos to demonstrate the evils of the economic system in which they live. Dislike and contempt for the bourgeoisie, the middle classes, industry, and commerce have been a prominent trait of leading Western writers and artists. "Mind vs. Money" is an analytical history of how and why so many intellectuals have opposed capitalism. It is also an argument for how this opposition can be tempered. Historically, intellectuals have expressed their rejection of capitalism through many different movements, including nationalism, anti-Semitism, socialism, fascism, communism, and the 1960s counterculture. Hostility to capitalism takes new forms today. The anti-globalization, Green, communitarian, and New Age movements are all examples. Intellectuals give such movements the legitimacy and leadership they would otherwise lack. What unites radical intellectuals of the nineteenth century, communists and fascists of the twentieth, and anti-globalization protestors of the twenty-first, along with many other intellectuals not associated with these movements, is their rejection of capitalism. Kahan argues that intellectuals are a permanently alienated elite in capitalist societies. In myriad forms, and on many fronts, the battle between Mind and Money continues today. Anti-Americanism is one of them. Americans like to see their country as a beacon of freedom and prosperity. But in the eyes of many European and American intellectuals, when America is identified with capitalism, it is transformed from moral beacon into the 'Great Satan'. This is just one of the issues "Mind vs. Money" explores. The conflict between Mind and Money is the great, unresolved conflict of modern society. To end it, we must first understand it."

Polanski Affair

Looks like those new charges against Polanski aren't going to stick.

Greek Myths

Well, well. We need to revise our stereotypes. Greeks work more hours per worker than Germans, and German households are more indebted than Greek households:

And don't forget Ireland.

The Reiss Affair

The latest bulletin:

Au lendemain de la libération de la Française Clotilde Reiss, qui était retenue en Iran depuis juillet 2009, le ministre de l'intérieur, Brice Hortefeux, doit signer lundi le décret d'expulsion de Vakili Rad, condamné en 1994 à perpétuité pour l'assassinat du dernier premier ministre du chah d'Iran, Chapour Bakhtiar, en 1991. (Le Monde)

In an interview given some time ago, Sarkozy had explicitly and indignantly ruled out such an exchange of prisoners. Reiss, he said, was innocent; Rad was an assassin. That statement now seems to be "inoperative," even though the Élysée will undoubtedly deny that there is any connection between the two cases. But who will believe them? This will do Sarko's credibility no good. No wonder he didn't appear in public yesterday with Reiss, in stark contrast to his behavior with other freed hostages.

Rights and Realities

This column by Libé's Washington correspondent tells us that the ACLU is defending every American's "right" to shout "you f ...'ing ass" at the cop on the beat--an offense that can land you in jail in France for "outrage à un agent de l'ordre public" or something of that sort. I have some advice for Mme Millot: that she not try to avail herself of her "right" to insult the cops while in the US. There are rights and there are realities. She might find herself lying face down in the gutter were she to press her right too far, particularly if delivered with a French accent.

A Cheery Note from William Buiter

From The New York Times:

With the exception of wartime, “the public finances in the majority of advanced industrial countries are in a worse state today than at any time since the industrial revolution,” Willem Buiter, Citigroup’s top economist, wrote in a recent report.