[Video] 20th Century Violence and Decline of the West

The War of the World: Twentieth Century Conflict and the Descent of the West

Historian Niall Ferguson examines the conflicts of the First World War to the Cold War and how they influenced the twentieth century. He argues that globalization, wealth, and technological breakthroughs led to much of the violence, genocide and fanaticism of the twentieth century. The talk was hosted by the World Affairs Council in Washington, D.C. and includes a question and answer session.

Niall Ferguson is the author of several books including Paper and Iron, The Cash Nexus, and The Pity of War. He currently is a history professor at Harvard University, Senior Research Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford, and a contributor to the Financial Times and the New York Times.

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World risk: Alert — Double-dip danger set to rise

FROM THE ECONOMIST INTELLIGENCE UNIT

SUMMARY

The imminent expiry of OECD policy stimulus along with an already apparent slowing in world trade growth raises concerns over a double-dip recession for the world economy. For the immediate term, forward-looking data suggest a mild slowdown rather than a fall back into recession. But if promises of fiscal retrenchment are translated into action, risks of a double-dip recession will rise going into 2011. Threats to the growth outlook include a renewed downturn in the US housing market, and further major losses for the banking sector from commercial property debt. The strong performance of China and many other emerging markets provides a buffer against a renewed global recession, but a potential escalation of US-China trade tensions poses a major downside risk to this dynamic.

GARP : Global Association of Risk Professionals

Demographics shifts ahead

Europe is likely to be the first region in history to suffer long-term population decline because of low birth rates, mostly due to smaller families in Eastern Europe and Russia, the report said. Japan and South Korea also are producing fewer babies. Japan has a fertility rate of 1.4 children per woman and a worker-to-elderly ratio of 3-to-1 — the lowest in the world. By 2050, Japan will have only one working-age adult for every elderly person; Germany and Italy will each have two.

By contrast, population in the developing world is booming. Africa’s population is projected to double to 2 billion by 2050. It has a total fertility rate of 4.7 children per woman. Nine of the 10 countries with the youngest populations are in Africa, with Niger leading the list, with more than half the population under the age of 15. Afghanistan, with 45.9 percent under age 15, comes in as the seventh youngest country.

Report: US Population to Grow Mostly Through Immigration

Are our financial woes really over?

Let’s look at some of the economic challenges we still face and the possible solutions being proposed to address them.

America, along with most of the world, is still steeped in excruciating levels of debt. Governments globally have bailed out banks and financial institutions from the brink with borrowed money. If these governments had worked from a surplus, there would be no further burden. However, these countries, and as such their citizens, now carry all those losses in the form of additional debt. Our national debt alone is $13.5 trillion.

How will this debt ever be repaid?

America is facing an annual budget deficit in excess of $1.5 trillion with no end in sight. At that pace, we will soon face over $15 trillion in short-term debt with long-term obligations well over $120 trillion. This is unsustainable under any scenario. We cannot grow our way out of a debt that ominous, especially when more takers are being added, through entitlements, to the dole daily.

Are our financial woes really over?

North Korea nuke warhead test seen as probable – INSIDE JoongAng Daily

The next nuclear test by North Korea will be one involving the placement of a nuclear warhead on a missile, according to a Chinese expert on North Korea yesterday.

Zhu Feng, a professor at the School of International Studies at Peking University, told a seminar in Seoul on Wednesday that Pyongyang has gained increased confidence in its nuclear technology after two underground nuclear tests and will proceed to test with a nuclear warhead. “The Chinese leadership believes that the North has sufficient nuclear [weapons manufacturing] capability and is now entering a stage where it is focused on minimizing the size of a warhead,” Zhu said.

North nuke warhead test seen as probable – INSIDE JoongAng Daily

China Conducts Military Exercise in South China Sea | News | English

State media say China’s military forces this week conducted the largest exercise of its kind since the founding of the military, known as the People’s Liberation Army. The official Xinhua news agency reports numerous warships, submarines, and combat aircraft took part in live fire exercises held Monday in the South China Sea.

China Conducts Military Exercise in South China Sea | News | English

Anarchy in Dagestan: Islamists Gain Upper Hand in Russian Republic – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International

Nowhere in Russia is the situation so explosive as in the autonomous republic of Dagestan. An ongoing Islamist insurgency has plunged the corruption-plagued region into near civil war. Some high-ranking Russian officials believe it will take years to defeat the extremists, if it can be done at all.

Anarchy in Dagestan: Islamists Gain Upper Hand in Russian Republic – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International

Pirates or rogue Iranian Guards suspected in Hormuz tanker blast

According to our sources in Washington and Tehran, while waiting for evidence, both speculate that the perpetrators may be either pirates in the pay of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or even a rogue element in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, which is bent on settling scores for the latest UN, US and European sanctions against their country.

Tehran has repeatedly warned it will fight back if sanctions hurt its economy and energy supplies.

DEBKAfile, Political Analysis, Espionage, Terrorism, Security

A Quarter Century after Chernobyl: Radioactive Boar on the Rise in Germany – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International

As Germany’s wild boar population has skyrocketed in recent years, so too has the number of animals contaminated by radioactivity left over from the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown. Government payments compensating hunters for lost income due to radioactive boar have quadrupled since 2007.

A Quarter Century after Chernobyl: Radioactive Boar on the Rise in Germany – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International

The ‘Tipping Point’ of American Debt

Question: You meet with your accountant. She tells you, “A panel of financial planners went over your books. You’re living way beyond your means. At this rate, you will reach a tipping point. It’s unclear exactly when. But if you keep it up, you will lose everything and saddle your children with historic debt.” What would you do?

(A) Ignore your accountant.
(B) Go home and rant about frugality. Tell your family, we must cut back. But you don’t want to go first. You contribute too much income already. They don’t want to go first either. They were promised stuff. You don’t want to disappoint. So you delay. Assign another panel to think about it. After all, credit offers are still coming. That Chinese bank is the best! And you love your lifestyle.
(C) Change your lifestyle.

If you answered “C,” you are most likely not a member of Congress.

Welcome to the U.S. bankbook.

RealClearPolitics – The ‘Tipping Point’ of American Debt