January 2013: At different speeds

As OMFIF enters its fourth year, the world seems to be moving at different speeds, in different directions. In the west, partly because of the First World War, the
superstitious see a ‘13’ in a year as denoting ill-fortune. No such qualms are felt in relatively confident Asia or the Islamic world. The US and Europe remain beset by clouds of anxiety, whether contemplating (although temporarily rescued from) the fiscal cliff or weighed down by the contradictions of the euro. OMFIF is using this period of world transition to launch two initiatives for 2013: the Year of the Luso-Economy, highlighting links between nine Portuguese-speaking nations, and Focus on Renminbi, pinpointing the way in which the Chinese currency is gradually attaining international status. Japan is a half-way house. In its long efforts to shake off the yoke of deflation, the country is a negative role model for east and west. Shumpei Takemori caustically describes the political and economic challenges facing new/old prime minister Shinzo Abe, saying the growth plan hastily assembled by his Liberal Democratic Party possesses little substance. Meghnad Desai surveys a year in which the euro has survived, damaged but intact, and declares that the European Central Bank, a ‘class central bank’, has pulled off ‘a brilliant confidence trick’ with its proposal to buy unlimited quantities of weak countries’ bonds.

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