Ben Bernanke ’60 Minutes’ Interview: What He Got Wrong

When Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve announced last month that it was initiating another round of $600 billion in “quantitative easing,” the reaction was swift and negative. The supposed profligacy of the Fed was yet another arrow in the Tea Party quiver and was used to support the contention that government spending is out of control. 

Read More

Cancun and Climate: Government Won’t Act, But Business Will

Over the next two weeks, Cancun will be in the spotlight for something other than spring break madness. As host of the annual climate summit that once saw such promise in Kyoto in 1997, Cancun in 2010 is framed by the spectacular failure of last year’s Copenhagen talks and by the stark realization that nearly 200 nations simply cannot agree on anything of consequence.

Read More

The G-20: This Time, It’s Different

Last week’s G-20 economic summit in South Korea was widely depicted as a failure for the Obama administration and a rebuff for the United States. In many respects, it was. Obama remarked that if the U.S. hadn’t tried to set the agenda, it would have had an easier time. “Part of the reason that sometimes it seems that the United States is attracting some dissent is because we’re initiating ideas,” he said. “We’re putting them forward. The easiest thing for us to do would be to take a passive role and let things just drift which wouldn’t cause any conflict.”

Read More

Sustainable Excellence

Today's business landscape is changing in fundamental ways: Natural resources are growing ever more scarce and expensive. Technology and changing consumer expectations are making transparency a fact of life. The rise of emerging economies creates vast market opportunities for companies--and better living standards for hundreds of millions. In Sustainable Excellence, Aron Cramer and Zachary Karabell tell the stories of the companies who are transforming themselves by responding to these paradigm shifts and in the process shaping the future.

Read More

Sustainable Excellence: The Future of Business in a Fast-Changing World

The economy continues to limp along, and from the debate in this U.S. election season, it seems as though the path to restoring economic vitality is terra incognita. Over the past generation, economic advances have been jump started by fundamental changes: first, globalization, and then the rise of the internet economy.

Read More

Book Review: "A World Without Islam"

One of the sadder consequences of the near decade of war and violence that has followed the attacks of 9/11 is that so many people are convinced that we are in a clash of civilizations divided along religious fault lines. The rise of anti-Muslim rhetoric in Europe and the continued attraction of radical antinomian Islam in parts of the Muslim world attest to this situation.

Read More

Behind the Mosque Controversy, a Rich History of Both Coexistence and Conflict

Over the past two months, the planned construction of a Muslim cultural center in the vicinity of the World Trade Center site has become the fulcrum of an acrimonious debate about religion, freedom of expression, and the place of Islam in the United States. You would have had to be living off-the-grid somewhere not to have noticed the hundreds of opinion pieces, thousands of blogs, and considerable airtime on television and radio. As characterized by Newt Gingrich, the planned center is no less than the latest chapter in a war of civilizations: "America is experiencing an Islamist cultural-political offensive designed to undermine and destroy our civilization."

Read More

The Myth of the Stock-Economy Connection

Last week, I wrote a column in Time about the unfortunate tendency of investors, pundits, economists et al to view stock markets as barometers for the economy and economic data as indicators of the markets. This tendency is pronounced in the media in general and the financial media above all, which looks daily for a story about why markets move up or down.

Read More

How Bad Is It? Greece, Panic and the Crisis of Confidence

The Greek debt crisis finally spilled over in full force to U.S. markets, aided and abetted by extreme statements emanating from such esteemed and prominent voices as Muhammed El-Erian of the large bond investor Pimco, who warned that Greece could be just the beginning of sovereign debt catastrophes. In the space of minutes, the major U.S. indices plunged more than 10%, fueled by the same programmatic electronic trades that were part of the battering in late 2008 into 2009. And then in the space of 15 minutes, they recovered, without — it’s fair to say — much human decision-making during that interval (and if an individual even tried trading during those 30 minutes, they would have found it difficult or impossible, as web sites such as schwab.com were completely overwhelmed with traffic).

Read More

Debt: The Third Rail of Journalism

Last week, I published an essay in Time magazine about debt, arguing that our current preoccupation with the federal deficit and with debt in general is a dangerous distraction from the real issue (namely, our inability to invest and spend wisely to create the economy of the future). The problem isn’t debt per se - after all, the U.S. government took on much more debt during and after World War II, and few would argue that was bad policy or led to disaster. The problem is that we aren’t spending our debt productively; instead, we’re frittering it away on consumption, tax rebates, military budgets to pay for Cold War-era weapons systems, pork projects, or other forms of spending that will not yield returns in the future.

Read More

The World's Dollar Drug

For all the talk about the problems of Greece and their implications for the euro zone, there is another currency that presents equally profound problems: the U.S. dollar. The dollar is, as everyone knows, the world's reserve currency, and it widely seen as a boon and an anchor for the emerging global economic system. It is also the only thing standing between the United States and its own moment of reckoning, and that is not a good thing.

Read More

Has China's Business Climate Cooled To U.S. Firms?

Google recently anounced it is moving part of its operations to Hong Kong; and harsh corruption sentences have been handed down to China-based executives of the British-Australian firm Rio Tinto. Zachary Karabell, author of Superfusion tells Renee Montagne that the recent events don't mean the business environment is souring for foreign firms in China.

Read More