Security Challenges Arising from the Global Financial Crisis

March 11, 2009
Statement of Richard Nathan Haass, former Director of Policy Planning in the U.S. State Department, current President of the Council on Foreign Relations, before the Committee on Armed Services of the U.S. House of Representatives
Washington DC, March 11, 2009

Mr. Chairman,

Thank you for this opportunity to testify before the House Committee on Armed Services on security challenges arising from the global financial crisis. Let me first commend you and your colleagues for holding this hearing. Most of the analysis and commentary on the global economic crisis has focused on the economic consequences.

This is understandable, but it is not sufficient. The world does not consist of stovepipes, and what happens in the economic realm affects political and strategic policies and realities alike. It is also important to say at the outset that this crisis, which began in the housing sector in the United States, is now more than a financial crisis. It is a full-fledged economic crisis. It is also more than an American crisis. It is truly global.

I would add, too, that the crisis is unlike any challenge we have seen in the past. It is qualitatively different than the sort of cyclical downturn that capitalism produces periodically. This crisis promises to be one of great depth, duration, and consequence. This crisis was not inevitable. It was the result of flawed policies, poor decisions, and questionable behavior.

It is important that this point be fully understood lest the conclusion be widely drawn that market economies are to be avoided. The problem lies with the practice of capitalism, not the model. Nevertheless, the perception is otherwise, and one consequence of the economic crisis is that market economies have lost much of their luster and the United States has lost much of its credibility in this realm.

It is inconceivable in these circumstances to imagine an American official preaching the virtues of the Washington Consensus. This is unfortunate, as open economies continue to have more to offer the developing world than the alternatives. It also adds to the importance that the U.S. economy get back on track lest a lasting casualty of the crisis be modern capitalism itself.

The impact of the economic crisis will be varied and go far beyond the image of capitalism and the reputation of the United States. Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair was all too correct when he testified recently that the primary near-term security concern of the United States is the global economic crisis and its geopolitical implications. The crisis will have impact on conditions within states, on the policies of states, on relations between states, and on the thinking of those who run states. I have already alluded to this last consideration.

Here I would only add that initial reactions around the world to the crisis appear to have evolved, from some initial gloating at America’s expense to resentment of the United States for having spawned this crisis to, increasingly, hopes that the American recovery arrives sooner and proves to be more robust than is predicted. This change of heart is not due to any change of thinking about the United States but rather to increased understanding that the recovery of others will to a significant extent depend on recovery in the United States. In a global world, what happens here affects developments elsewhere and vice versa. Decoupling in either direction is rarely a serious possibility. The crisis is clearly affecting the developed world, mostly as a result of the centrality of banking-related problems and the high degree of integration that exists among the economies of the developed world. Iceland’s government has fallen; others may over time. Many governments (including several in Central and Eastern Europe but outside the Eurozone) will require substantial loans.

The economies of Japan, much of Europe, and the United States are all contracting. World economic growth, which averaged 4 to 5 percent over the past decade, will be anemic this year even if it manages to be positive, which is increasingly unlikely. It is worth noting that the most recent World Bank projection predicts negative growth for 2009. Change of this sort will have consequences. There will likely be fewer resources available for defense and foreign assistance. Reduced availability of resources for defense makes it even more critical that U.S. planners determine priorities. Preparing to fight a large-scale conventional war is arguably not the highest priority given the enormous gap between the relevant military capabilities of the United States and others and the greater likelihood that security-related challenges will come from terrorism and asymmetric warfare. State-capacity building, the sort of activity the United States is doing in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, will continue to place a heavy burden on U.S. military and civilian assets.

Also remaining highly relevant (and deserving to be a funding priority) will be standoff capabilities designed to destroy targets associated with terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. Developing states may appear to be better off than wealthier countries at first glance. Their growth on average is down by half from previous years, but still positive. Appearances, however, can be deceptive. This growth is measured from a low base in absolute and relative terms. The reduction in growth in some instances has been dramatic. Developing country exports are down as demand is down in the developed world.

Also reduced are aid flows and most importantly investment flows to the developing world. Commodity prices are much lower, a boon to those who rely on imports but a major problem for the many who are dependent on the income from one or two exports. A few countries merit specific mention. One is China. China’s economic success over the past few decades constitutes one of history’s great examples of poverty eradication. This process, one that has involved the migration of millions of people every year from poor rural areas to cities, will slow considerably. The already large number of domestic political protests in China over such issues as land confiscation, corruption, environmental degradation, and public health, is likely to grow. Absent renewed robust economic growth, the chances are high that the government will react by clamping down even more on the population lest economic frustration lead to meaningful political unrest.

Russia is in a different position, one characteristic of countries dependent on raw material exports for much of their wealth. The Russian economy is contracting after a period of boom. As is the case with China, this suggests the likely assertion of greater political control. But Russia is not as fully integrated as China is with the world economy. There is thus a greater (although impossible to quantify) chance that Russia’s leaders will turn to the time-honored resort of manufacturing an overseas crisis to divert attention than will China’s.

The same holds true for Iran and Venezuela, two countries that are heavily reliant on energy exports and whose foreign policies have been counterproductive (to say the least) from the U.S. perspective. But at the same time, it is possible that one or both will pull in their horns. Venezuela is already showing some signs of this, with its more welcoming stance toward international oil companies. This may well be simply a tactical adjustment to immediate needs.

And at least in principle, Iran’s government might find it more difficult to make the case to its own people for its continued pursuit of a nuclear weapons option if the Iranian people understood that it was costing them dearly with respect to their standard of living. Iraq is another oil producing country whose wealth is closely associated with the price of oil. Here the effects are sure to be unwanted. There is the danger that disorder will increase as unemployment rises, prospects for sharing revenue shrink, and the ability of the central government to dispense cash to build broad national support diminishes. In light of the multiple challenges already facing the United States, the last thing the Obama administration needs is the specter of an unravelling Iraq.

Two other countries are worth highlighting. One is Pakistan. Pakistan’s economic performance is down sharply for many reasons, including a decrease in both foreign investment in the country and exports from Pakistan to other countries. Pakistan has little margin for error; the possibility that it could fail is all too real. The worsened economic situation makes governing all that much more difficult. The consequences of a failed Pakistan for the global struggle against terrorism, for attempts to prevent further nuclear proliferation, for the effort to promote stability in Afghanistan, and for India’s future are difficult to exaggerate. North Korea is a second nuclear-armed state whose stability is worsened by the economic crisis.

At issue is the extent to which South Korea (along with China and Japan) can provide resources to the North to help stave off collapse. Another serious consequence of the global economic crisis, one that affects both developed and developing countries, is the reality that protectionism is on the rise. One realm is trade; some seventeen of the twenty governments set to meet in London early next month have increased barriers to trade since they met late last year. Negotiated free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea continue to languish in the U.S. Congress. The president lacks the Trade Promotion Authority essential for the negotiation of complex, multilateral trade accords. Prospects for a Doha round global trade pact appear remote. The volume of world trade is down for the first time in decades. The economic but also strategic costs of this trend are high. Trade is a major source of political as well as economic integration; one reason China acts as responsibly as it does in the political sphere is because of its need to export its products lest potentially destabilizing unemployment jump sharply. Trade has other virtues as well. More than anything else, trade is a principal engine of global economic growth. The completion of the Doha round might be worth as much as $500 billion to the world in expanded economic activity. One-fourth of this expanded output would occur in the United States. This is the purest form of stimulus.

For the United States, exports are a source of millions of relatively high-paying jobs; imports are anti-inflationary and spur innovation. Alas, the economic crisis will make it difficult if not impossible to conclude new trade pacts and to gain the requisite domestic support for them. Economic nationalism is on the rise, and when this happens, the will and the ability of political leaders to support policies that are perceived to hurt large numbers of their citizens (but which in reality help many more) invariably goes down. What is more, the economic crisis may also make it more difficult to reach agreement on a global climate change pact when representatives of most of the world’s countries gather in Copenhagen late this year. Developed and developing countries alike will resist commitments that appear to or in fact do sacrifice near-term economic growth for long-term environmental benefit. What, then, should be done to limit the adverse strategic effects of an economic crisis that is certain to get worse and persist for some time?

The United States – the Obama administration and the Congress – should resist protectionism. “Buy America” provisions in the stimulus legislation will increase costs to American consumers and all but make certain that other countries will follow suit, thereby reducing the prospects for American firms to sell abroad. More American jobs are likely to be sacrificed than preserved. Increased protectionism will also dilute the strategic benefits that stem from trade and its ability to contribute to international stability by giving governments a stake in stability. Similar arguments hold as to why “lend national” provisions are counterproductive. Bringing countries into the world trading system (best done through WTO accession) makes strategic sense, too, as it gives them a stake in maintaining order at the same time it opens government decision-making to greater degrees of transparency. Recession cannot become this country’s energy policy or a reason not to decrease U.S. consumption of oil, imported or otherwise. Lower prices will dilute any economic incentive to consume less oil. Regulatory policy will be the principal means of discouraging demand and encouraging the development of alternative energy sources and technologies. Reduced demand is essential for strategic reasons (so as not to leave the United States highly dependent on imports and so that countries such as Russia, Venezuela, and Iran do not benefit from dollar inflows), for environmental reasons, and for economic reasons, i.e., not to increase the U.S. balance of payments deficit. The goal should be to use this moment of temporarily-reduced prices to decrease the chances we as a country again find ourselves in a world of high energy prices once the recession recedes.

The United States should work with other developed and reserve-rich countries to increase the capacity of the IMF to assist governments in need of temporary loans. Current capacity falls short of what is and will be needed. It would be helpful if aid budgets were not victims of the economic crisis. Aid is needed on a large scale not just for humanitarian reasons (to fight disease, etc.) but also to build the human capital that is the foundation of economic development. Aid will also be a necessary substitute in the short and medium run for investment. Absent such flows we are likely to see greater misery and an increased number of failing or failed states. The upcoming G-20 summit in London provides an opportunity to adopt or encourage some useful measures in many of these realms. It is essential that others, including Europe and Japan, take steps to stimulate their economies. It is equally important, though, that guidelines be promulgated so that stimulus programs do not become a convenient mechanism for unwarranted subsidies and “buy national” provisions that are simply protectionist measures by another name.

The London meeting is also an opportunity to increase IMF capacity, to generate commitments to provide aid to developing countries, and to agree on at least some regulatory principles for national banking and financial systems. There is not time, however, to try to rebuild the architecture of the international economic system, solve the problems caused by countries that run chronic surpluses, or revamp the system of exchange rates. Let me close with two final thoughts. Much of this hearing and statement is focused on the question of the consequences of the economic crisis for global security. But it is important to keep in mind that the relationship is not only one way. Developments in the political world can and will have an effect on the global economy.

Imagine for a second the economic consequences of, say, a Taiwan crisis or fighting between India and Pakistan or an armed confrontation with Iran over its nuclear ambitions. This last possibility is the most worrying in the near term and underscores the importance of trying to negotiate limits on Iran’s enrichment program lest the United States be confronted with the unsavory option of either living with an Iranian near or actual nuclear weapons capability or mounting a preventive military strike that, whatever it accomplished, would be sure to trigger a wider crisis that could well lead to energy prices several times their current level.

Finally, getting through this economic crisis should not be confused with restoring prolonged calm in the markets or sustainable growth. Enormous stimulus measures here at home coupled with equally unprecedented increases in the current account deficit and national debt make it all but certain that down the road the United States will confront not just renewed inflation but quite possibly a dollar crisis as well. At some point central banks and other holders of dollars will have secnd thoughts about continuing to add to their dollar holdings, currently larger than ever given the desire for a safe harbor. Ongoing U.S. requirements for debt financing, however, will likely mean that interest rates would need to be raised, something that could choke off a recovery. This underscores the importance of limiting stimulus packages to what is truly essential to reviving economic activity and to taking other measures (such as entitlement reform and the already discussed steps to reduce oil use) lest the current crisis give way to another one.

Folgt auf die Finanzkrise ein Bürgerkrieg?

February 26, 2009

Das Volk rebelliert nämlich nie allein deshalb, weil es einen schweren Sack schleppen muss, es lehnt sich nie gegen die Ausbeutung auf, denn es kennt kein Leben ohne Ausbeutung. Das Volk empört sich erst dann, wenn ihm jemand plötzlich und unvermutet einen zweiten Sack aufzubürden versucht. Er rebelliert, weil er spürt, dass du ihm mit diesem zweiten Sack betrügen wolltest, du hast ihn wie ein stumpfes Tier behandelt, den Rest seiner geschändeten Würde in den Schmutz getreten, ihn zum Idioten gemacht. Der Mensch langt nicht nach dem Beil, um seinen Geldbeutel zu verteidigen, sondern seine Würde. (Aus dem Roman König der Könige von Ryszard Kapuściński)

Steht der Zusammenbruch der öffentlichen Ordnung kurz bevor, nachdem die globale Finanzkrise die Ohnmacht der Politik (die mit einer unanständigen Umverteilung von Steuergeldern für die oberen Zehntausend reagiert, anstatt das System grundlegend zu verändern) entlarvt hat? Den genauen Zeitpunkt und die Form des kommenden Bürgerkriegs kann man noch nicht voraussehen. Dass er kommen wird, steht jedenfalls fest. Wann und wie er kommen wird, liegt noch verborgen im Schoße der Zukunft.

Es ist zumindest die ziemlich apokalyptische Prophezeiung der europäischen Denkfabrik European Laboratory of Political Anticipation LEAP/Europe 2020, die in einer Pressemitteilung vom 18. Februar 2009 verkündet wurde.

Ein ähnliches düsteres Szenario prognostiziert ebenfalls Igor Panarin, Dekan der Fakultät Internationale Beziehungen der Diplomatischen Akademie des russischen Außenministeriums: ” Der US-Dollar ist durch nichts mehr gedeckt. Die Außenverschuldung ist lawinenartig gewachsen: 1980 hatte es noch keine gegeben, 1998, als ich meine Prognose aufstellte, lag sie bei zwei Billionen Dollar, heute beträgt sie mehr als elf Billionen Dollar. Das ist eine Pyramide, die unbedingt einstürzen wird. Millionen von Bürgern haben ihre Ersparnisse eingebüßt. Die Preise und die Arbeitslosigkeit werden steigen. General Motors und Ford stehen am Rande des Zusammenbruchs. Das bedeutet, dass ganze Städte arbeitslos werden.”


Pressemitteilung European Laboratory of Political Anticipation LEAP/Europe 2020

Seit Februar 2006 vertrat LEAP/E2020 die Auffassung, dass die umfassende weltweite Krise in vier Grundphasen ablaufen würde, nämlich die Anfangsphase, die Beschleunigungsphase, die Aufprallphase und die Dekantierungsphase. Die Ereignisse der letzten zwei Jahre fügten sich hervorragend in dieses Schema. Jedoch müssen wir uns endlich in die Einsicht finden, dass die Regierenden unfähig sind, die wahre Natur der Krise zu verstehen. Denn seit nunmehr mehr als einem Jahr bekämpft die Politik mit ihren Maßnahmen nur die Symptome der Krise, nicht aber die Ursachen.

Deshalb gehen wir heute davon aus, dass mit dem vierten Quartal 2009 eine fünfte Phase der Krise einsetzen wird, in der die öffentliche Ordnung zerfallen wird.

Nach der Auffassung von LEAP/E2020 werden zwei bedeutende Phänomene diese neue Phase der Krise prägen; die kommenden Ereignisse werden damit in zwei parallelen Entwicklungen ablaufen:

A. Die zwei bedeutenden Phänomene:

1. Das Wegbrechen der globalen Finanzbasis (Dollar + Schulden)
2. Die sich beschleunigende Divergenz der Interessen der großen Staaten und der internationalen Organisationen

B. Die zwei parallelen Entwicklungen:

1. Die rasche Auflösung des gesamten gegenwärtigen internationalen Systems
2. Die Auflösung der Handlungsfähigkeit der mächtigen Staaten und großen internationalen Organisationen

Wir hatten gehofft, dass die Dekantierungsphase den Regierenden dieser Welt ermöglichen würde, die Schlussfolgerungen aus dem Zusammenbruch der Nachkriegsweltordnung zu ziehen. Man kann heute mit größtem Bedauern nur feststellen, dass solcher Optimismus nicht mehr zu rechtfertigen ist.

In den USA wie auch in Europa, in China oder in Japan handeln die Regierenden, als ob die Weltordnung nur von einer vorüber gehenden Krise erfasst wäre und es genügen würde, noch etwas Treibstoff (Liquidität, also weitere Schulden) und weitere Tinkturen (Leitzinssenkungen, staatlicher Aufkauf von wertlosen Forderungen, Konjunkturförderprogramme zu Gunsten insolventer Industriezweige) in das System zu gießen, um den Motor wieder zum Anspringen zu bringen. Sie wollen einfach nicht verstehen, dass, wie der Begriff der umfassenden weltweiten Krise, den LEAP/E2020 im Februar 2006 prägte, zu vermittelt versucht, die Weltordnung nicht mehr funktionsfähig ist. Statt verzweifelt zu versuchen, diese am Boden liegende, unrettbare Weltordnung zu retten, muss endlich die Schaffung einer neuen Weltordnung angegangen werden.

Geschichte wartet nicht, bis die Menschen für sie bereit sind. Da die Schaffung der neuen Weltordnung nicht vorausschauend und planend möglich war, wird der Zerfall der öffentlichen Ordnung während dieser fünften Phase der Krise die Welt in ein solches Chaos stürzen, dass die neue Weltordnung als Zufallsprodukt und Improvisation entstehen wird. Die beiden parallelen Entwicklungen, die wir in dieser 32. Ausgabe des GEAB beschreiben, werden für einige der großen Staaten und internationalen Organisationen tragisch sein.

Nach unserer Auffassung verbleibt nur ein sehr kleines Zeitfenster, während dem das Schlimmste noch vermieden werden kann, nämlich bis zum Sommer 2009. Dann wird die Zahlungsunfähigkeit erst Großbritanniens und dann der Vereinigten Staaten die Grundlagen des bestehenden Systems zusammen stürzen lassen und Chaos ausbrechen.

Wir gehen sehr konkret davon aus, dass der geplante G20-Gipfel April 2009 die letzte Chance für die bestehende Weltordnung ist, die aktuell wirkenden Kräfte so auszurichten, dass der Übergang in die neue Weltordnung sich mit dem geringst möglichen Schaden vollzieht.

Wenn ihnen das nicht gelingt, wird den Mächtigen der aktuellen Weltordnung die Kontrolle über die Ereignisse vollständig entgleiten, und zwar nicht nur auf globaler Ebene, sondern für einige von ihnen auch in ihren eigenen Ländern; die Welt wird in die Phase, in der die öffentliche Ordnung zusammen bricht, gleiten wie ein Schiff, dessen Ruder gebrochen ist. Am Ausgang dieser Phase des Zusammenbruchs der öffentlichen Ordnung wird die Welt mehr dem Europa von 1913 ähneln als der Welt, an deren reale Existenz die meisten noch bis 2007 glaubten.

Die meisten der von der Krise betroffenen Staaten, unter ihnen die mächtigsten dieser Erde, versuchten verzweifelt, das immer weiter anwachsende Gewicht der Krise zu schultern; sie verstanden nicht, dass sie damit die Gefahr herauf beschworen, unter dieser Last zusammen zu brechen. Sie vergaßen, dass Staaten, von Menschen geschaffen, nur solange Bestand haben, wie sich eine Mehrheit dieser Menschen mit ihnen identifiziert. In dieser 32. Ausgabe des GEAB wird LEAP/E2020 seine Analysen über die Auswirkungen dieser Phase des Zusammenbruchs der öffentlichen Ordnung auf die USA und die EU vorlegen.

Es wird für alle, Privatpersonen wie Wirtschaftsführer, dringlich, sich auf eine sehr schwierige Zeit vorzubereiten, in der ganze Bereiche unserer Gesellschaft wegbrechen werden und zumindest zeitweise oder sogar dauerhaft aufhören werden, Bestandteile der Gesellschaft zu bilden.

So wird z.B. der Zerfall des Weltwährungssystems im Sommer 2009 nicht nur den Dollar (und aller Geldanlagen in Dollar) zusammen brechen lassen, sondern das Vertrauen in alle Papierwährungen (also ohne Gold- oder Silberdeckung) massiv unterminieren. Alle Empfehlungen in dieser Ausgabe des GEAB sollen auf diese Situation vorbereiten.

Weiterhin gehen wir davon aus, dass die Staaten, die besonders monolithisch, besonders mächtig, besonders zentralistisch sind, diejenigen sein werden, die von der fünften Phase der umfassenden weltweiten Krise besonders massiv betroffen sein werden. Weitere Staaten, die unter dem Schutz dieser Staaten stehen, werden ihre Schutzmächte verlieren und damit dem Chaos in ihren Regionen ausgeliefert sein.

The Trilateral Strategic Dialogue between USA, Japan and Australia

January 22, 2009

Foreign policy analysts Michael Auslin, Zhu Feng, Rory Medcalf, Sheldon W. Simon, Akihiko Tanaka, and William Tow, from the National Bureau of Asian Research, released a report on the new American strategic partnership with Japan and Australia.

“In response to changes in the Asia-Pacific region, including the rise of China and nontraditional security threats, U.S. strategic thinking has begun to look beyond the traditional hub-and-spoke model of postwar U.S. alliances and formulate new agreements such as the Trilateral Strategic Dialogue (TSD).

Washington has joined Canberra and Tokyo in a dialogue designed to focus their bilateral relationships on joint regional concerns. Initiated in 2005, the TSD agenda has remained focused on more narrowly defined security concerns, including maritime security, nonproliferation mechanisms, counterterrorism, and missile defense. At a minimum, the United States is pushing for the enhancement of information exchange on these issues as well as for sharing strategic assessments with Japan and Australia in order to have similar regional pictures.

Engaging Japan in TSD discussions over common threats and common responses can serve to help further refine the goal of globalizing the U.S.-Japan alliance, as seen in TSD-initiated joint military exercises held among the three countries.”

Read full story.

An American Strategy for Asia

January 12, 2009

by Dan Blumenthal and Aaron Friedberg

ASIA STRATEGY WORKING GROUP – American Enterprise Institute (AEI)

On the global shift in wealth and power toward Asia

The new U.S. administration confronts an unusually long and daunting list of pressing foreign policy problems: ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, the continuing threat of global terrorism, a brewing crisis in Pakistan, unresolved nuclear standoffs with Iran and North Korea, Russia’s new aggressiveness toward its neighbors, and the lingering aftereffects of a global financial meltdown. All will demand urgent attention and timely action. The president-elect will be lucky if he has a moment to savor his victory, let alone to pause and reflect on the longer-term trends that are reshaping the world.

Yet such reflection is badly needed. As important as they undoubtedly are, all of the issues listed above are being played out against the backdrop of something even bigger: a massive, rapid shift in the distribution of global wealth and power toward Asia. This process has been gathering momentum for more than thirty years; if current projections are borne out, in the next thirty Asia’s rise will fundamentally alter the structure of the international system and the character of great power politics.

It is difficult to exaggerate the magnitude of what is taking place. The changes now underway are comparable in scale, and potentially in historical significance, to the “rise of the West” – the emergence of Europe as the world’s leader in wealth and military power – or the rise of the United States to global preponderance that began in the nineteenth century.

Such a profound shift will eventually require the reexamination, and ultimately the reorientation, of many aspects of America’s foreign, economic, and defense policies. These changes may be forced by events. Or they could be shaped by a clear and coherent national strategy, a plan of action that looks beyond today’s turmoil, sets broad goals, and identifies the tools and policies that will be necessary to achieve them.

The purpose of this report is to put forward an American strategy for Asia. While it is motivated by an awareness of long-term trends, the emphasis of this report will be on the concrete and practical. We intend not only to identify goals, but also to specify the steps that a new president should take over the next four to eight years to bring them closer to realization.

Our report differs from others on related subjects in two important ways.

First, it is focused rather than comprehensive. Instead of touching lightly on every conceivable subject relevant to Asia, we have chosen to concentrate on those that we believe to be of greatest strategic importance.

Second, our report is more candid than is typically the case about the challenges that are likely to emanate from Asia and, in particular, about those that may result from the rise of China. Our intention is not to be provocative, but rather to be clear. Ritualized “happy talk” about where China is headed will do little, if anything, to alter Beijing’s course. But unwarranted optimism on the part of our leaders may make it harder to maintain public support for the policies necessary to keep the peace and secure American interests, and it could set the stage for future disappointment and overreaction if exaggerated expectations of Sino-American friendship are not met.

We have been reminded in recent years how important it is not to overstate the magnitude and imminence of threats to our nation’s security, but it is at least as important to be clear and honest in acknowledging their existence.

Read full report.

Central Banks respond to worst financial crisis since 1929

September 18, 2008

Several of the world’s most influential central banks unveiled a coordinated response to this week’s market turmoil and broader concerns about financial markets.

The U.S. Federal Reserve announced it would make an additional $180 billion available to foreign banks for overnight and longer-term money markets.

The European Central Bank, Bank of Japan, Bank of England, Bank of Canada, and Swiss National Bank made a joint statement that they would work with the U.S. Fed to help make short-term loans available to financial institutions in their countries.

Separately, the Financial Times reports Russia will inject over $19 billion to support its sputtering financial markets, following a dramatic stock slide.

A backgrounder from the Wall Street Journal says the credit crisis, spawned from bad U.S. mortgage-backed debt, has spread into the worst financial crisis since the 1930s, and that there is no clear end in sight.

Read full story.

Japan to host 23rd World Scout Jamboree in 2015

July 20, 2008

Japan has just won the bid to host the 23rd World Scout Jamboree in 2015.

Announced in the Plenary Hall at ICC Jeju on Jeju Island at the 38th World Scout Conference, Japan was ecstatic to hear the results with the Chairman of the bidding committee, Mr. Osamu Hirose saying: “We are very happy and we are sure that the Jamboree will be a very good opportunity to educate young people, and also very good chance to show how Scouts around the world are creating a better world.”

The Jamboree will be located on Kirarahama or Kirara Beach in Yamaguchi Prefecture. The Japanese word “kirara” means mica: Kirara Beach offers a beautiful landscape in front of which the Seto Inland Sea glitters in the sunlight just like mica.

To get more informations about the World Scout Movement, please click here.

Landmark China-Japan deal agreed

May 8, 2008

China and Japan inked a historic agreement and a “new starting point” for bilateral relations. The pledge, which comes after years of tense relations over wartime history and off-shore natural resources, establishes an annual summit between the nations.

Read full story.