Topic Category: Politics

Beijing’s decision to allow more flexibility in the daily trading band for the yuan-dollar exchange rate, along with the announcement that the People’s Bank of China will soon allow banks to pay higher interest rates on deposits, are positive signs that the leadership is serious about giving markets more play. Ending financial repression, however, will require political as well as economic reform.

Topic: Politics
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Elections for seats in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament, will be held in April–May 2014. Regardless of which party wins, the result will usher in a new political era as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will step down after a decade in power. He likely would have been out of a job anyway since the INC, the lead party in the minority UPA government, is headed for defeat.

Topic: Politics
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SPECIAL REPORT—Had the U.S. been so foolish as to bring Ukraine into NATO, Washington would have a treaty responsibility to start World War III. Today’s game of geopolitical chicken might have a nuclear end. Perhaps Kiev’s inclusion would have caused Vladimir Putin to go quietly into the night after the violent overthrow of a friendly government in a strategic neighbor. More likely he’d doubt the West would risk war over tangential security interests.

Topic: Politics
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Senate and local elections held in December reinforced the dominant position of the governing PDG, which won more than 60 percent of the vote nationwide. In January, President Ali Bongo named Daniel Ona Ondo as his prime minister. Ona Ondo’s predecessor, Ndong Sima, came under widespread criticism for his handling of a teachers’ strike in 2013. The new prime minister is an economist by training.

Topic: Politics
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For years people have been told to expect a dismal energy future. But because of rapid free market innovation, Americans now can look forward to a future of energy abundance. The U.S. could even become a leading exporter—if Washington gets out of the way. Successive presidents and Congresses imposed controls, approved subsidies, created bureaucracies, and issued proclamations.

Topic: Politics
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In the space of just 13 months, President Enrique Peña Nieto has accomplished more in terms of economic reform than his two immediate predecessors managed in 12 years. Although the so-called Pact for Mexico — the broad alliance of the president’s PRI, the conservative PAN, and the center-left PRD — is effectively a dead letter, Peña Nieto managed to obtain approval of important reforms.

Topic: Politics
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On December 10, the Nicaraguan Congress approved a package of more than three dozen changes to the constitution. President Daniel Ortega claims the reforms will lay the foundation for a system of "direct democracy." But the president's critics contend that the result will be the perpetuation of Ortega's hold on the presidency and the further concentration of political power in the executive branch.

Topic: Politics
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Parliamentary elections in Iraq are scheduled for April 2014. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s Shiite-dominated State of Law party is leading in the polls, having made up some ground after a disappointing performance earlier in local elections. Following the vote, Maliki is likely to be granted first crack at forming a coalition government. But the chances the next administration will be more stable than this one were never good and diminishing daily.

Topic: Politics
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In a recent Reuters op-ed, Council on Foreign Relations’ scholar Edward Alden lavished praise on the Obama administration for “quietly embrac[ing] the most ambitious agenda on trade and investment liberalization in the past two decades.” Ted’s take evokes this Washington Post article from last March, in which Howard Schneider noted the emergence of a robust trade agenda and marveled at its meaning.

Topic: Politics
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The strange-bedfellows alliance of the center-left PD and the center-right PdL has been weakened by votes of no-confidence in both houses of Parliament. Nevertheless, it has survived the ordeal, despite fears that the PD’s refusal to help the PdL’s founder, Silvio Berlusconi, to escape his latest legal troubles could bring an early end to the parties’ marriage of necessity.

Topic: Politics
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