Kim and Trump in Singapore: extraordinarily ordinary? – not quite

That was a surprise. The Sentosa Island summit on 12 June between President Trump and DPRK leader Kim Jong-un produced an undramatic yet hopeful agreement. Quite a turn-up for the books, coming from two leaders famed for unpredictability. But components of the summit outside of the signed agreement showed Trump continuing to be a disruptor in world politics. Continue reading

Resources – the coming crunch and some things that could be done about it

As I remarked already, and it’s the starting point for the new edition of my State of the World Atlas (published this week), the human population is seven times greater than it was 200 years ago but our use of resources is disproportionately greater still: we produce 50 times as much, using 60 times as much water and 75 times as much energy. Where is that all going – and perhaps more to the point, how long can it keep on going? A new report offers insights. Continue reading

Quiet start from EU High Rep Ashton? Good! Go for the long game

Baroness Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s High Representative, is facing a mountain of a job and a rockfall of criticism across Europe after her first 100 days. But most of the negativity is a matter of Brussels gossip, bruised little egos and out-dated thinking about international politics. Ashton has got things more right than her critics. Rightly, she is focused on the long game rather than short-term headlines (which some journalists find impossible to forgive and others equally impossible to understand).    Continue reading

Companies and conflict sensitivity in the recession

It’s a truism that the poor get the hardest by any economic problem, downturn, crunch or crisis. Likewise, the poor get left behind when the economic good times are rolling. It’s perhaps a faint hope, but might it be possible for those truisms to be at least a little less true for poor countries during this crisis and as recovery comes around? Continue reading

The fog of uncertainty in a manic economic depression

In an interview published on 30 August last year, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer (Finance Minister) Alistair Darling  revealed his view that the economic downturn was “arguably the worst” in 60 years. He was quickly dumped on for talking down the economy and the underlying analysis was gleefully trashed. Grim prospects, The Economist acknowledged, “But the worst outlook in six decades? Nonsense.” Perhaps Darling does not seem so nonsensical today, now that the economic depression is turning manic. Continue reading

How a conflict could lead to a perfect storm

The world is in parlous condition. A violent conflict could quickly escalate out of control into a perfect storm, in which a local conflict becomes a major regional explosion. The risk is of low probability but high impact. The likelihood can be made even lower if the international system and its major actors remain watchful and ready to respond quickly. For that readiness to be real, we need to think the risk through. Continue reading