20 September 2017   Leave a comment

Since the Great Recession of 2008-09, many governments in the world have increased their total indebtedness.  According to the Pew Research Center, “the total amount of government debt now exceeds $63.1 trillion”.   The growth of debt has been particularly high in the rich countries: “In the world’s seven major advanced economies (known as the Group of Seven), debt as a share of GDP increased by an average of 22.2% between 2008 and 2011”.   Debt is a very imperfect indicator of economic health.  The real index is whether the debt will ultimately contribute to generating economic growth that will make repaying the debt easier.  But debt is an marker for vulnerability to specific, unforeseen events.  From that perspective, we should all hope that we are not surprised by natural or political disasters anytime soon.


US President Trump’s speech at the United Nations has received a wide range of responses.   China’s People’s Daily ran an editorial which said:

“Trump’s political chest-thumping is unhelpful, and it will only push the DPRK to pursue even riskier polices, because the survival of the regime is at stake. It is time for the US to realize that irresponsible words and actions are backing the DPRK into a corner with no way out, and it would be a tragedy if Trump’s risky game of chicken with the DPRK crosses the point of no return.

On the other hand, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu gave the speech high praise:

“In over 30 years in my experience with the UN, I never heard a bolder or more courageous speech. President Trump spoke the truth about the great dangers facing our world and issued a powerful call to confront them in order to ensure the future of humanity.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani responded today to President Trump’s characterization of the nuclear agreement and stated that: “I declare before you that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not be the first country to violate the agreement; but it will respond decisively and resolutely to its violation by any party.”  He went on to say:

“The ignorant, absurd and hateful rhetoric, filled with ridiculously baseless allegations, that was uttered before this august body by the president of America yesterday (Tuesday), was not only unfit to be heard at the United Nations – which was established to promote peace and respect between nations – but indeed contradicted the demands of our nations from this world body to bring governments together to combat war and terror.”

I have yet to read an analysis of the speech that is dispassionate.  The speech clearly targeted  certain constituencies which have responded somewhat predictably.  But the language of the speech, particularly its emphasis on sovereignty and what I believe to be some misunderstandings of sovereignty suggested that the speech was an attempt to be something doctrinal.  I have not yet figured out the specifics of the doctrine.


Spanish authorities raided Catalan government offices and arrested several Catalan government officials in an attempt to stop the proposed referendum on Catalan independence scheduled for 1 October.  The Spanish Constitution has no provision for provincial secession and the central government argues that any effort to secede is illegal.  Up to this point, it seemed as if the referendum would not support Catalonian independence, but the raids on the Catalonian governmental offices might provoke a counter-reaction to the central government.  We should watch how this unfolds.

Posted September 20, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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