Robert Skidelsky
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Project Syndicate "Against the Current"

Resurrecting Creditor Adjustment
Robert Skidelsky
Project Syndicate | Tuesday, October 24, 2017

 
With all the protectionist talk coming from US President Donald Trump’s administration, it is surprising that no one has mentioned, much less sought to invoke, an obvious tool for addressing persistent external imbalances: the 1944 Bretton Woods Agreement’s “scarce-currency clause.”

That clause, contained in Article 7 of the agreement, authorizes countries, “after consultation with the [International Monetary] Fund, temporarily to impose limitations on freedom of exchange operations in the scarce currency”; and it grants those countries “complete jurisdiction in determining the nature of such limitations.” A country’s currency is considered scarce in the foreign-exchange market if it imports more than it exports – which is to

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Germany’s Hour
Robert Skidelsky
Project Syndicate | Monday, September 18, 2017

 
Who runs the European Union? On the eve of Germany’s general election, that is a very timely question.
 
One standard reply is, “The EU’s member states” – all 28 of them. Another is, “The European Commission.” But Paul Lever, a former British ambassador to Germany, offers a more pointed answer: Berlin Rules is the title of his new book, in which he writes, “Modern Germany has shown that politics can achieve what used to require war.”
 
Germany is the EU’s most populous state and its economic powerhouse, accounting for over 20% of the bloc’s GDP. Determining why Germany has been so economically successful appears to be elusive. But three unique features of its so-called Rhineland model stand out.
 
First, Germany has preserved its

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A Trip Through Putin Country
Robert Skidelsky
Project Syndicate | Wednesday, August 16, 2017

 
VLADIVOSTOK – Russia’s Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM) railway “can be hardly named as a popular tourist attraction,” says one tourist website of the some 2,000-mile railway traversing Eastern Siberia and the Russian Far East. “Most people even never [sic] heard of it.”
 
The BAM’s older rival, the Trans-Siberian Railway, is certainly more popular. Since opening in 1916 it has attracted many big names, including the travel writers Peter Fleming, Paul Theroux, and Colin Thubron. But it is the BAM – this unloved northern spur, initiated by Stalin in the 1930s, and completed under Leonid Brezhnev in 1984 – that offers the more useful window onto the Russian mood outside of cosmopolitan Moscow and St. Petersburg. Today, BAM land is overwhelmingly

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The Protocols of Donald J. Trump
Robert Skidelsky
Project Syndicate | Tuesday, July 18, 2017

 
 LONDON – It is an odd quirk in the history of logic that the blameless Cretans should have given their name to the famous “liar paradox.” The Cretan Epimenides is supposed to have said: “All Cretans are liars.” If Epimenides was lying, he was telling the truth – and thus was lying.
 
Something similar can be said of US President Donald Trump: Even when he’s telling the truth, many assume he is lying – and thus being true to himself. His trolling is notorious. For years, he claimed, with no evidence other than unnamed sources that he called “extremely credible,” that Barack Obama’s birth certificate was fraudulent. During the Republican primary, he linked his opponent Senator Ted Cruz’s father to John F. Kennedy’s assassination. He has

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Britain’s Deepening Confusion
Robert Skidelsky
Project Syndicate | Monday, June 19, 2017

 
 LONDON – “Enough is enough,” proclaimed British Prime Minister Theresa May after the terrorist attack on London Bridge. Now, it is clear, almost half of those who voted in the United Kingdom’s general election on June 8 have had enough of May, whose Conservative majority was wiped out at the polls, producing a hung parliament (with no majority for any party). Whether it is “enough immigrants” or “enough austerity,” Britain’s voters certainly have had enough of a lot.
 
But the election has left Britain confusingly split. Last year’s Brexit referendum on European Union membership suggested a Leave-Remain divide, with the Brexiteers narrowly ahead. This year’s general election superimposed on this a more traditional left-right split, with

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