28 February 2018   Leave a comment

In what should be the coldest part of the Arctic winter (the sun is still below the horizon during the “day”), temperatures are almost 50ºF above normal and it some places in northern Greenland the temperatures are actually above freezing.  The warm temperatures are an ill augur for sea ice this summer and problematic for weather patterns throughout the upcoming summer.  At the same time, Europe is experiencing unusually cold temperatures due to a blast of Siberian air coming in from Siberia (dubbed the “Beast from the East” by those unfamiliar with cold weather).  Rome has experienced its first snowfall in six years.  Climate change brings unpredictable weather.

Northern Hemisphere Temperatures                                                                              A Cold Front Coming into the City of London on Tuesday

                                                       snow photo london

 

I get press reports from the US Treasury on a daily basis and today I got a report that included a chart that is reproduced below.  I find the data fascinating because it reveals how much money is being held in offshore accounts although not necessarily by American citizens (many non-Americans buy US assets and also wish to hide them).  It is hard to believe that the people of the Cayman Islands (population 62,083), Luxembourg (population 537,039), Singapore (population 5,763,984), Bermuda (population 61,163), or the British Virgin Islands (population 31,543) are so phenomenally wealthy that they could own so much wealth on their own.  One cannot stash their money in such places cheaply, but apparently, if one is rich enough, it is quite common.

 

Foreign Holdings of US Securities, by country and type of security for the major investing countries into the US, as of June 30, 2017
Billion of Dollars
Total Equities Long-Term Debt Short-Term Debt Other
Japan 1,999 490 235 1,215 58
Cayman Islands 1,688 927 128 529 103
United Kingdom 1,562 844 31 644 43
China, mainland 1,541 194 180 1,163 3
Luxembourg 1,401 531 68 703 98
Ireland 1,077 296 78 563 141
Canada 1,065 810 29 213 14
Switzerland 825 413 22 356 34
Belgium 618 38 16 548 15
Taiwan 564 56 228 277 4
Germany 427 208 27 187 5
Netherlands 398 254 15 114 15
Hong Kong 350 96 10 181 64
Singapore 349 167 10 154 17
Norway 340 239 * 100 1
Bermuda 318 95 45 154 24
France 292 154 9 113 16
South Korea 282 102 36 134 11
Brazil 277 5 * 253 18
Australia 272 193 6 64 9
Kuwait 233 160 5 44 24
Saudi Arabia 202 46 6 108 42
Sweden 180 130 1 49 *
British Virgin Islands 166 112 2 41 11
United Arab Emirates 147 80 1 57 9
Rest of World 1,863 549 73 1,065 175
Total 18,436 7,188 1,263 9,031 954
Source:  US, Department of the Treasury, “Preliminary Report on Foreign Holdings of US Securities At End-June 2017,”28 February 2018.  Accessed at: https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm0301

 

The RAND Corporation (a strategic think-tank that has been around for a very long time) has published a new book entitled “U.S. Presence and the Incidence of Conflict“.   The book, however, is available for a free download for those who has a special interest in US foreign policy.  The press release on the book summarizes its findings in this way:

“Troop presence and military assistance have different effects. Stationing U.S. troops abroad may help deter interstate war. A large U.S. regional troop presence may reduce the likelihood of interstate conflict in two ways: by deterring potential U.S. adversaries from initiating interstate wars or by restraining U.S. allies from initiating militarized behavior. However, U.S. military presence may increase interstate militarized activities short of war. U.S. adversaries may be more likely to initiate militarized disputes against states with a larger U.S. in-country troop presence. Troop presence and military assistance have different effects. Stationing U.S. troops abroad may help deter interstate war. A large U.S. regional troop presence may reduce the likelihood of interstate conflict in two ways: by deterring potential U.S. adversaries from initiating interstate wars or by restraining U.S. allies from initiating militarized behavior. However, U.S. military presence may increase interstate militarized activities short of war. U.S. adversaries may be more likely to initiate militarized disputes against states with a larger U.S. in-country troop presence. However, provision of U.S. military assistance may be associated with increased state repression and incidence of civil war.  “

I will likely download the book and read it in the near future.  Some of these conclusions conform to some of my own views on the US presence abroad.  I find the idea that “U.S. troop presence does not appear to reduce the risk of intrastate conflict or affect the level of state repression” highly suspicious.

Posted February 28, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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