12 May 2017   Leave a comment

Some time ago, Russia, Turkey, and Iran reached an agreement to create “safe zones” within Syria in order to reduce the number of civilian casualties in the civil war.  Safe zones do not have a distinguished record in peacekeeping:  similar safe zones in the civil war in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s simply created killing zones for combatants who had no reluctance to kill non-combatants.  Interestingly, the Russians are trying to get the US involved in the process which would mean that the US and Iran would have to agree formally to cooperate in Syria.  It is not clear that either side would wish to make such a public statement.

The IMF has a blog post on declining trust in the US and its relationship to income inequality.  The IMF has found that “[I]n surveys over the past 40 years, the share of Americans who say that most people can be trusted has fallen to 33 percent from about 50 percent. The erosion of trust coincides with widening disparities in incomes”.  In an earlier report, the IMF found that:

“Moreover, the impact of inequality on trust and social capital in the United States is driven largely by rising wage differences at the bottom of the earnings distribution. However, inequality does not appear to foster a greater demand for redistribution. So policies that seek to restore trust by reducing market wage dispersion before taking into account taxes and benefits—regarding the minimum wage or collective bargaining, for example—appear more promising than redistribution in the form of more progressive income tax or increased social spending. In other words, a quality job with dignity and a decent salary means more than just a good income.”

Stimulating the economy for all income groups seems to be the best strategy for restoring trust.

China has been working on an incredibly ambitious project called “One Belt, One Road”.  It is an attempt to revive the old silk trading route in (both land and maritime) order to unite the economies of Eurasia. Starting on Sunday 29 countries (and representatives from many other countries) will meet in Beijing to discuss the project.  While there are benefits for many countries in the project, it is also clear that some countries, particularly India, are quite leery of the power ambitions of China the project represents.

Posted May 12, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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