Vet this . . .

A quick post while I’m on vacation on beautiful Cape Cod . . . USAID still doesn’t have a director. I understand that the Obama Administration wants to have a strong stance on ethics, but the vetting process for some positions are just ridiculous. Apparently Paul Farmer had to name every foreigner he came into … Continue reading

Sayonara, Mr. Yen

Before China kept its currency artificially devalued, Japan was the biggest advocate of a weak currency. Eisuke Sakakibara, Japan’s vice minister of finance for iternational affairs, was such a staunch proponent of a weak currency that he earned the nickname Mr. Yen. Japan’s export led growth was predicated on a weak yen, so its interesting … Continue reading

Update: When Barack Met Chuck…

Following up on Nick’s rant about Chuck Grassley… The Obama administration relented and gave the senator assurances (courtesy of Secretary Clinton and U.S. Trade Rep Ron Kirk) that the tariff on sugarcane-based ethanol, mainly from Brazil, will not be lifted. I had seen a couple of indicators that I thought were hopeful signs for progress … Continue reading

Another Perspective on Biden

From Daniel Larison at the Week. Larison offers an interesting perspective that follows up on a post I made a little over a week ago on the vice-president’s trip to Ukraine and Georgia.  Still, I think his commentary could use a little clarity. His main point is that Biden has not been making gaffes or … Continue reading

Zuma Can’t Dance

At a campaign rally for Jacob Zuma I attended last spring, the notorious big man wowed the crowd by leading them in the songs and dances of the apartheid-era liberation movement.  But now in office and subjected to the pressures of pleasing his party and an economic recession, Zuma faces a faster beat.  And it’s … Continue reading

So Forget What I Said About Alberto Contador…

From the New York Times: “My relationship with Lance is zero,” Contador said at a news conference, one day after winning his second Tour.  “He is a great rider and has completed a great race, but it is another thing on a personal level, where I have never had great admiration for him and I … Continue reading

Climate and Trade Discussion Needs a Reality Check

Since the narrow passage in the U.S. House last month of climate-change legislation that gave an OK to so-called border adjustments for imports from countries that have not approved similar policies, various policymakers and commentators have debated whether this is a good idea. President Obama took a surprisingly tough stance on the House action, condemning … Continue reading

Senator puts parochial interests ahead of nation’s. In other news, dog bites man

Besides telling the world that he is not a nail, Chuck Grassley has been the leading Republican voice on health care reform and now seems intent on making his mark on South American and trade policy. Senator Grassley has put a hold on the confirmation of Thomas Shannon as the Ambassador to Brazil. His reason? … Continue reading

Simon Johnson to China: Do it, I dare ya

Hillary Clinton and Tim Geithner continue their high level talks with the Chinese government, the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, today. The meetings are being heralded as a replacement for the G8 summits of the past (some observers have called the US-China relationship the “G-2”). The two countries will be discussing a whole host of issues … Continue reading

AID: Consider the purpose!

Fivethirtyeight.com, one of my favorite blogs that features stellar insights on American politics and even contributed some great analysis on the Iranian political crisis, has waded into the waters of foreign aid today.  And it made for a pretty lame post. First of all, it’s important to point out that drawing conclusions from aid statistics … Continue reading