British Prime Minister Theresa May blinked more than once as she prepared to invoke Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon and initiate Britain’s exit from the European Union. According to May, Brexit will transform the United Kingdom into what she calls “Global Britain.” But what lies ahead is really anyone’s guess. The UK has long been shorn of its empire; now it will be shorn of Europe, too.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History and the Last Man (1992). Rarely read but often denigrated, it might be the most maligned, unfairly dismissed and misunderstood book of the post-war era. Which is unfortunate for at least one reason: Fukuyama might have done a better job of predicting the political turmoil that engulfed Western democracies in 2016 – from Brexit, to Trump, to the Italian Referendum – than anybody else.
With Britain poised to quit the European Union, Prime Minister Theresa May needs all the friends she can get. That helps explain her visit Friday to the White House, President Donald Trump’s first from a foreign head of state. The question is, what’s in it for him?
The world needs India’s sustained rise, as much as India needs the world. Our desire to change our country has an indivisible link with the external world. It is, therefore, only natural that India’s choices at home and our international priorities form part of a seamless continuum. Firmly anchored in India’s transformational goals, Modi says at the opening of the Second Raisina Dialogue.
Escaping the liquidity trap means engineering a dramatic rise in expectations for future demand growth. It means a clear departure from past practice: a regime change. And whether the tool used to engineer the shift in expectations is monetary or fiscal, it cannot occur without strong political support.
Trump is part of a broad populist upsurge running through the Western world. It can be seen in countries of widely varying circumstances, from prosperous Sweden to crisis-ridden Greece. In most, populism remains an opposition movement, although one that is growing in strength; in others, such as Hungary, it is now the reigning ideology. But almost everywhere, populism has captured the public’s attention.
Brexit was the warm-up. With the election of Donald Trump, the populist tide sweeping developed economies has now overtaken the world’s most powerful democracy. What exactly that means for the rest of the world depends upon just how serious the real estate developer and reality TV star was about his campaign pledges. Those ranged from triggering trade wars, to undermining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, to stoking a new nuclear arms race.
Economic slowdowns can often be characterized as periods of hesitation. Consumers hesitate to buy a new house or car, thinking that the old house or car will do just fine for a while longer. Managers hesitate to expand their workforce, buy a new office building, or build a new factory, waiting for news that will make them stop worrying about committing to new ideas. Viewed from this perspective, how worried should we be about the effects of hesitation today?
Right now a political tidal wave is rising in the West, an inchoate deluge driven by years of failed centralization and economic policy, one that threatens to drown traditional parties and submerge political establishments. There is no stopping this storm; the challenge of our time is to ensure that it forces productive change, that it washes away outdated immigration frameworks and superfluous bureaucracies, and not the bulwarks of liberalism that have made the West great.