S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Round or flat, it's a linked world

U.S. and E.U. part of linked world - This week saw jittery stock markets around the world and Wall Street's worst week in more than four years. A BBC story summarized the market slump thus,
A number of issues have come to a head this week, and the decline in share prices was triggered on Tuesday by fears of a new tax in China.
Investors have blamed issues as varied as the strength of the global economy, weakness in the US mortgage market, the outlook for corporate earnings and the effect of a stronger Japanese yen for their decision to dump equities.
Currency links - The place of currency differentials and other factors involving the falling value of the U.S. dollar was foreshadowed by this New Year's day article, "Appeal of euro strengthens against U.S. dollar," from the International Herald Tribune. The news evidently reminded people of Thomas Friedman's idea that the world is flat. In the past couple of days, there were seven visitors to this very old S/SW post: "Friedman's flat world," July 19, 2005.
Airlines key aspect of linked flat world - For a few days in December of last year the highest number of visitors to my blog were from Europe, due to this 12/1/06 post, "What's Your Score," about the TSA system for rating your terrorist potential as an airline passenger traveling internationally. More recently, the EU and US have made substantial progress in the so-called "Open Skies" agreements, according to the International Herald Tribune's article. To quote,
The European Union said Friday that it had reached a preliminary agreement with U.S. negotiators to all but eliminate restrictions on trans-Atlantic air routes, marking a significant breakthrough in talks aimed at increasing the number of flights — and lowering fares.
. . . The U.S. Congress must also back the deal before the new rules would take effect on Oct. 28.
Kids are not equal in the flat adult world - The West's children do not fare equally in all of this. Last month, the BBC News carried an excellent article that compared the well-being of children in various European countries and the U.S. The headline read, "Child study finds big divisions." Quoting from the story,
The first report on the well-being of children in 21 western states shows marked divisions in education, health and sexual behaviour and drug-taking.
The Netherlands topped the well-being table compiled by the UN children's agency Unicef, with Scandinavian nations also performing well.
However the United Kingdom and United States fare much worse, taking the bottom two places in the table.

Link to E.U. Views - Delegation of the European Commission to the USA's Ambassador John Bruton's weekly message (2/27/07) spoke to several of the above issues. To quote,
  • Last week the European Commission published its Annual Policy Strategy for 2008 and its legislative program for 2007. These two documents give a very good outline of the Commission's work program.
  • Last week the Council, . . . unanimously adopted a negotiation mandate for a new agreement between the European Union and the United States to regulate the transfer of air passengers’ data . . . Negotiations to replace the current interim agreement that expires on 31 July 2007 are starting this week in Washington.
  • While it is true that the EU as a whole has been growing more slowly than the US, seven EU Member States have grown “markedly faster” than the US since 1995 – the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Luxembourg, Poland and Slovakia. Some of this is explained by relatively low income countries catching up, rather than forging ahead as such.
The China/US link - "When China sneezed the U.S. market caught cold" is a reversal of the way the saying used to go. The fact that our nation is in such financial debt to China is another fact of life that requires investors to remain well informed. The Internet and blogs, happily, make that increasingly possible. I remain grateful to a few great news online references:
  1. Financial Times
  2. BBC News
  3. International Herald Tribune
  4. Europa
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My "creative post" today at Southwest Blogger is called "In the Eye of the Beholder."

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