At the World Bank/IMF spring meetings this weekend, officials will spend most of their time fretting about high oil prices. But the size and growth of global imbalances--particularly America's twin deficits--are the real reason to worry
SPRING in Washington means the arrival of cherry blossom and, less colourfully, the world's central bankers and finance ministers, for meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. As the officials gather this weekend, their mood might not match the season. Top of their list of worries is the thought that high oil prices might be pushing the world economy into trouble.
Although oil prices took a tumble this week, back towards $50 a barrel, the policymakers' concern is understandable. Oil prices are still 70% higher in real terms than they were two years ago. Granted, that pales against the great leaps of 1974, when prices jumped by 185% in real terms, and 1978-79, when they rose by 158%; but it is quite some climb nonetheless.
Lately, official worries have been publicly vented. On April 7th economists at the IMF caused a stir when they suggested the world needed to get used to a "permanent oil shock". Thanks to strong demand and tight supply, they argued, oil prices would be substantially higher in future than they had been in the 1990s. Jean-Claude Trichet, president of the European Central Bank, recently pointed to the rise in oil prices as an "unwelcome" risk to global economic growth. In a comment reminiscent of the 1970s, he urged consumers to become "good energy savers".
That's from The Economist's "Running out of puff?" and Carolyn e-mailed that in. (Piece does not list an author.)
From the Financial Times, we'll note Heba Saleh's "Egypt's judges take a stand against electoral fraud:"
The Egyptian government is facing an unprecedented challenge from the country's judges who have warned that unless new laws were passed guaranteeing their full independence, they would refrain from supervising this year's presidential and parliamentary elections.
A meeting on Friday of more than a thousand judges in Alexandria also demanded that the judiciary should supervise all stages of the electoral process, from the preparation of voters lists to announcing the results.
"That is where reform should start," said Hesham Bastawisi, a judge in the Cassation Court, the highest court in the Egyptian system. "Only if there is a fully independent judiciary can Egypt have reform and democracy."
The government has rejected calls for foreign election monitors saying that the judiciary - which has a long-established reputation for independence - will supervise the elections.
But judges complain that in the last election in 2000, their role was often restricted to watching ballots being cast while outside many polling stations police prevented opposition voters from entering.
From Australia's ABC, Juan e-mails in to note "UN tells Aust to resolve Nauru detainee cases:"
The United Nations (UN) has called on the Federal Government to find a humanitarian solution to deal with asylum seekers still detained on the Pacific island of Nauru.
Many of the 50 detainees have been on Nauru for more than three years, under the Government's so-called "Pacific solution".
Most have been denied refugee status, but are refusing to return to their home countries of Iraq or Afghanistan.
While in Australia, we'll check in on our friend Luke of wotisitgood4. Jimmy e-mails in "carter the unstoppable sex machine:"
* " Bush mustered low approval ratings immediately before the election, surged on Election Day, then saw his ratings plunge immediately afterward. Yet Big Media has no curiosity about this anomaly.... "When the autopsy of our democracy is performed, it is my belief that media silence will be given as the primary cause of death."" LINK this is a Tribune Media Services article - itll be interesting to see if it gets any distribution - currently news.google only points to the bradblog. ten bux sez we dont see it widely carried... the subtitle is "The 2004 election was stolen — will someone please tell the media?"
* Rawstory does a piece on the Baker-Cater Commission on Federal Election Reform and the astro-turf ACVR. (i dont think ive discussed this much - bradblog has been all over it). the problem with having baker involved is obvious at face value. you'd think that having carter involved was probably good news - but the commission has been claiming that the CarterCenter has been involved as well - it turns out that isnt true, Carter left the Carter Center at about the same time that he joined this commission. anyways, the commission is totally stacked with GOP lawyers, and astroturf groups who are trying to give the appearance of being independent which are all stacked with GOP lawyers. and of course, people like conyers and velvet revolution and anyone who might be actually independent or on our side have been specifically excluded. similarly the agenda has been restricted to (basically) 'how do we keep repugs in power'. if they have to cheat, even at this level, then we can presume they arent really serious... (btw - carter got shunned for the papal funeral)
Jimmy also e-mailed in Luke's "executive disorder:"
* " Democratic strategists say that they hope DeLay will hang on--saying that the longer DeLay remains in power, the more time the Party will have to tie his scandals to other members. This position was echoed today by the British magazine The Economist." LINK
* davidcorn picks up on my point that negroponte hadnt read the robb-slivermann report. turns out he hasnt read the other wmd report. intelligence failures? what intelligence failures? LINK
* davidcorn: "conservatives are lining up for DeLay's lemmings express. Democrats ought to be delighted to see conservatives embrace DeLay as the embodiment of their movement. That way, if he falls, they will fall too." LINK
[. . .]
* "In the 11-page statement, devoid of remorse but rife with anti-abortion and antigay language, Mr. Rudolph said he had originally intended to bomb the Olympics every day to "confound, anger and embarrass" the government for legalizing abortion... As for the attack on the gay nightclub, Mr. Rudolph, who has a gay brother, wrote that homosexuality practiced in private was acceptable, but that any effort to "drag this practice out of the closet" and have society recognize it as legitimate or normal "should be ruthlessly opposed."" LINK i wonder if he thinks abortion is ok if practised in private...
[. . .]
* "The Bush administration is impeding an investigation into the Education Department's hiring of commentator Armstrong Williams by refusing to allow key White House officials to be interviewed" i guess they dont want to be asked: "who else is gettin some?" LINK
* scott ritter slams pat roberts LINK
* "But as the Social Security debate continues to unfold, do not underestimate President Bush's ability to still get his ideas enacted. Indeed, even without broad Congressional or public support, President Bush just may have an ace up his sleeve. How might he enact his private accounts idea without such support, you may ask? By executive order." LINK ive long feared that something like this would happen. i figgered they must have something up their sleeve. the article ends on this hopeful note: "So this fall, whether the issue is Social Security or what to do in the nuclear standoffs with Iran and North Korea, keep your eyes on the ace up President Bush's sleeve." good fucking grief. i dont know the journo - carlos watson - but his gig is called Inside Politics (cnn) - so ill assume that he isnt kidding... grrrrrrrr
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