Thursday 22 Apr 2021 | 13:39 | SYDNEY
What's happening on


The politician as painter

Sam Roggeveen's post raises an interesting question as to whether George W Bush would have been more inquisitive (and hence made better decisions) if he had taken up painting before his presidency. The argument being that the painter's need to determine perspective is a good grounding for

More on George W Bush, artist

My piece got a Twitter reaction from Nasya Bahfen, a Senior Lecturer in Journalism at UNSW: Thanks Nasya; extra points for the '90s movie reference. But how about some other artistic depictions of the Bush Administration? Thomas Cole's landscape series, The Course of Empire, perhaps? Or one

Reader riposte: Grace, humility on The Interpreter

Ian Wing writes: I think Rodger Shanahan made a valid point about the DVA website's choice of words about ANZAC. DVA got it wrong, albeit on a relatively minor issue of historical accuracy that neglected the fact that British, French and Indian troops outnumbered our own. Nonetheless, the

A perspective on Bush the artist

Apparently some of George W Bush's critics are bothered by the fact that he's quite a competent painter and in particular that he has a skill for perspective, because it implies that he's capable of seeing things from a different point of view. But art critic Morgan Meis (h/t Browser) takes

Can a new DG save the WTO?

And then there were two. The process of selecting a new Director-General for the WTO is heading to a conclusion, with the third and final round of consultations with members scheduled to start today. After the previous two rounds, the original nine-person shortlist has been whittled down to just

Syria and the chemical weapons norm

There's no easier way to demonstrate the appalling standard of online political debate than to cite comment threads: abusive, intolerant, disrespectful, rude, inflammatory etc. That's true, but it's not the whole truth. I give occasional seminars here at the Lowy Institute for groups of public

What can the world learn from Abenomics?

Mike Callaghan is Director of the Lowy Institute's G20 Studies Centre. As the debate over 'growth versus fiscal austerity' continues, with the latest battleground set to be the IMF's forthcoming annual review of the UK economy, attention continues to focus on what is happening in Japan. Simon

No, Europe's ETS definitely doesn't work

Roger Pielke Jr is a Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado. Here's his initial post on this topic. After the European parliament voted down a proposal to prop up its flagship emissions trading scheme (ETS), most observers finally admitted what has been obvious for a

So, Europe's ETS works after all?

Last Monday's Interpreter piece from Environmental Studies Professor Roger Pielke Jr was one of a number of commentaries in the international media arguing that Europe's emissions trading scheme (ETS) had essentially failed as a mechanism for reducing carbon emissions. Now I see that there's

Fiscal policy: A rock and a hard place

With Spanish unemployment topping 27%, it's hard to argue that the recovery is on track. It's not just Spain: the IMF estimates, in its latest World Economic Outlook, that euro-area GDP declined nearly 1% during 2012 and this loss will not be recovered this year. The Fund forecasts growth of

Documentary trailer: Manhunt

Thanks to Markus for alerting me to this trailer for an upcoming HBO documentary about the capture of Osama bin Laden, and the audio of this Council on Foreign Relations panel discussion hosted by Fareed Zakaria and featuring Peter Bergen, who wrote Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden

Boston response shows America on the mend

Erin Hurley has nearly ten years of experience working in US politics in New York and Washington DC, and served as a legislative affairs officer within the US Department of Defense. In a post on the Boston bombings in Foreign Policy, Stephen Walt expressed strong disappointment in 'our collective

India-Australia: Not all about cricket

On 17 April the Lowy Institute and the Australia India Institute launched a groundbreaking poll looking at Indian perceptions of Australia (the link includes the poll in full and a short video interview with report author, Rory Medcalf), gaining insight into what Indians really think of our

Problems in China's submarine program?

Rear Admiral (ret'd) James Goldrick AO, CSC is a Nonresident Fellow at the Lowy Institute. Submarine development and construction is a notoriously opaque subject, hard enough to analyse in open societies and even more difficult in a secretive environment such as that of China's military.

The Twitterisation of economic debate

Mike Callaghan is Director of the Lowy Institute's G20 Studies Centre. The controversy over mistakes in a research paper by Harvard Professors Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff is a sad indictment on the state of the public debate on economic policy. Reinhart & Rogoff's work was never

Why economists' errors matter

Economics blogs are all atwitter with discussion of Reinhart and Rogoff's (R&R) Excel error: it turns out that a 90% debt-to-GDP ratio is not a critical threshold for dramatically slower growth after all. All this excitement may be a storm in a teacup but there are wider lessons which go

Boston and the changing nature of terrorism

Sam Roggeveen has suggested that, in its response to the Boston Marathon bombing, America 'got it right'. Likewise, Sam linked to a piece by Thomas Friedman on the 'right' response to terrorism.  I agree with Sam that President Obama's response was tone-perfect: strong, measured, resolute. 

What the G20 finance ministers did not say

Mike Callaghan is Director of the Lowy Institute's G20 Studies Centre.  What was not included in the communiqué was the most interesting thing coming from the meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors in Washington, DC on 18-19 April. Some of the omissions were positive,

Europe's ETS: Good branding, poor substance

Roger Pielke Jr is a Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado. Last week, in a surprise to many, the European parliament defeated a proposal to postpone the auctioning of emissions permits, a move that would have propped up prices in the bloc's carbon market, known as the

Boston attack: America getting it right

I can't help thinking of the US reaction to the Boston tragedy in light of John Howard's recent description of the feeling in America after the 9/11 attacks (the vast differences in the scale of the two attacks notwithstanding). As I noted after his speech, Howard returned constantly to the

Chinese shipbuilding and strategy

Taiwan's intelligence chief told a parliamentary committee earlier this week that China is yet to deploy its newest ballistic missile submarine (Type 094) and the intercontinental-range missile (JL-2) which is intended be its primary armament. This is despite the fact that the first of four or

Reader riposte: Indian public opinion

Darryl Daugherty writes: It's to be regretted that the questions — the first particularly — in the recently released India-Australian Poll 2013 were not more inclusive. Given the historical immigration of Indians to Thailand, the high rate ownership of businesses by ethnic Indians here,

How not to Excel in economics

Hugh Jorgensen is a Research Associate in the Lowy Institute's G20 Studies Centre. Drama, tension and controversy are not usually phenomena associated with high-level econometric analysis, but arguments over a paper written three years ago by two Harvard Professors, Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth

Commodity trade: Where's the scrutiny?

The Interpreter has commented on the relaxed attitude of Australian authorities to the possibility that world commodity prices might be manipulated to our disadvantage.  The Chinese seem more interested in the issue. The Glencore-Xstrata merger has finally been agreed by Chinese authorities 

Shining a light on wartime sexual violence

Paul Madden is the British High Commissioner to Australia. Important issues can sometimes be neglected by the popular media until a celebrity gets involved. So Angelina Jolie's visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo, together with British Foreign Secretary William Hague, helped to shine a

Monetary policy: All in the mind (nearly)

The initial response to Japan's new monetary policy has been dramatic. Even before any action has been taken, the exchange rate has depreciated by 20% and equity prices are up 30%. People are talking as if the lost decades are over. Others, however, are arguing that Quantitative Easing (QE) shouldn

Social media to the forefront in Boston

  So unfolded the abhorrent events on the Boston Police Twitter feed today. The feed – with its updates, instructions and attempts to crowd source — went out to the Police Department's 110,000 followers. Through Twitter's network effect, many, many more were able to see the Boston

Deconstructing reconstruction (part II)

Naima Lynch was a researcher for MSNBC and worked in media and communications in Yemen and Afghanistan. She is currently an intern in the Lowy Institute's West Asia Program.   My previous post on The Interpreter unpacked some of the vocabulary used to discuss reconstruction. In that piece I

Tuesday links: Boston bombing edition

Check out CNN, the Boston Globe and the NY Times for live coverage. Here's the Reddit thread. President Obama's statement: 'We still do not know who did this or why. And people shouldn’t jump to conclusions'. The New Yorker dissects Obama's words. Notably, he did not say 'terror'. The

Ten tips for better G20 communiqués

Mike Callaghan is Director of the Lowy Institute's G20 Studies Centre.  G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors will meet in Washington, DC on 18 April. They will issue a communiqué. But who will read it? These communiqués will never win a prize for literature. They are drafted by

Malaysia's election: Fiscal future at risk

Liam Hanlon is a political analyst at Cascade Asia Advisors, a research firm focused on Southeast Asia. For questions on his article, please email Liam here. Malaysia's 13th general election, scheduled for 5 May, is shaping up to be the tightest in the country's near 60-year history. The ruling

The Falklands Play

Fairfax websites have been spruiking this dramatic account of British politics leading up to the Falklands War since the weekend. You can watch it in one hit (with ads) here, but the BBC also has it in ten parts on its YouTube channel. I had not heard of this production before, but according to

Reader ripostes: Howard, Green and Iraq

As we draw our Iraq debate to a close, thoughts from Alison Broinowski on Michael Green's two-parter below. But first, Jeni Whalan writes: What did I take from John Howard's recent speech to the Lowy Institute? A profound sense of unease that there exists within Australian foreign policymaking

The IMF and the Cyprus debacle

When Prime Minister Gillard met IMF Managing Director Lagarde at the Bo'ao Conference last week, her opening gambit was to praise the IMF for sorting out the Cyprus problem. This is, to say the least, puzzling. Cyprus was an unmitigated mess which leaves a lasting legacy on the frail European

Filming Thatcherism

The Guardian's film blog has a couple of excellent posts on the impact Thatcher and Thatcherism had on British films. Two films from the late 90s come to my mind as interesting depictions of Thatcherism. Brassed Off (1996) and The Full Monty (1997) both depict life in towns struggling with

Growth and jobs: A new focus for the IMF

Mike Callaghan is Director of the Lowy Institute's G20 Studies Centre. His op-ed on Australia's agenda for the 2014 G20 meeting appears in today's Financial Review. Things are changing in the IMF. And it's positive change. For example, the IMF has admitted that it was wrong in underestimating the

Australia in Iraq: The Ostrich approach

I'm in the Middle East doing research for a forthcoming paper on Syria that I'm writing with my colleague Anthony Bubalo. My early impression is that there appears to be a complete absence of rational (let alone unified) policy views about what anybody wants or believes will be the case 'the day