America's True Power In The NAFTA Century


OK, I get it. Between George W. Bush and Barack Obama we have made complete fools of ourselves on the international stage, outmaneuvered by petty lunatics and crafty kleptocrats like Russia’sVladimir Putin. Some even claim we are witnessing “an erosion of world influence” equal to such failed states as the Soviet Union and the French Third Republic.  read more »

Swedish Lessons for Obama


During his upcoming visit to Sweden, President Barack Obama will surely praise the nation’s combination of high living standards, few social problems, and high level of income equality. What he may not recognize -- although he should -- is that the astonishing social and economic outcomes in Sweden and other Nordic countries have more to do with a unique culture among homogenous populations than with simply following a recipe of social democratic policies.  read more »

America Hanging in There Better Than Rivals


To paraphrase the great polemicist Thomas Paine, these are times that try the souls of optimists. The country is shuffling through a very weak recovery, and public opinion remains distinctly negative, with nearly half of Americans saying China has already leapfrogged us and nearly 60 percent convinced the country is headed in the wrong direction. Belief in the political leadership of both parties stands at record lows, not surprisingly, since we are experiencing what may be remembered as the worst period of presidential leadership, under both parties, since the pre-Civil War days of Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan.  read more »

Major Metropolitan Areas in Europe


Eurostat, the statistical agency of the European Commission (European Union) now designates metropolitan areas (Note) for the European Union (EU) and the European Three Trade Association (EFTA). The EU has 28 members, having just added Croatia, while the EFTA has 4 members.  read more »

Should Uncle Sam Chase a Scandinavian Model?


When American progressives dream their future vision of America, no place entices them more than the sparsely populated countries of Scandinavia. After all, here are countries that remain strongly democratic and successfully capitalist, yet appear to have done so despite enormously pervasive welfare systems.  read more »

Bruce Springsteen: The Wrecking Ball Strikes Europe

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It makes sense that the European continent would enthusiastically welcome Bruce Springsteen this summer on his Wrecking Ball Tour. Europe is in its second year of a prolonged recession, and its economic union looks like a failed savings and loan association. As he has in the past, the Boss is making The Grand Tour. Instead of gracing luxury hotel suites, though, he’s filling up the kinds of cost-overrun stadiums in Barcelona, Paris, Düsseldorf, and Cork that are one reason the European Union is starting to look like Youngstown.  read more »


Will Europe Hit a Demographic Tipping Point?


The best hope for the youth of France, according to a recent New York Times op-ed, is, well, to get out of France.  Youth unemployment in France is running at 26%.  No wonder some might believe their best opportunity lies elsewhere, including their old colony of New France (Quebec). 

But this punishing level of unemployment is only slightly worse than the EU-wide rate of 23%. Countries like Spain and Greece have astonishing youth unemployment rates of nearly 60%. What does the future of these countries’ youth look like? Or their adults for that matter? Maybe it’s a future on another continent, including former colonies.  read more »

Angry Young Men


“'Angry young men' lack optimism.” This was the title of a BBC News story earlier this year, exploring the deeply pessimistic views that some young working class British hold about their own future. Two-thirds of the young men from families of skilled or semi-skilled workers, for example, never expect to own their own home. Angry young men, this time of immigrant origin, were also recently identified as the group causing riots in Swedish suburbs such as Husby.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: The Rhine-Ruhr (Essen-Düsseldorf)


Rhine-Ruhr, or Essen-Düsseldorf, is among the world's least recognized larger urban areas (Figure 1).  Germany does not designate urban areas according to the international standard, and for that reason the Rhine-Ruhr does not appear on the United Nations list of largest urban areas. Yet, in reality this contiguous urban area is Germany's largest urban area, a position as it has held since at least the end of World War II. The Rhine-Ruhr is the third largest urban area in Western Europe, trailing only Paris and London.  read more »

The Vatican Bank: In God We Trust?

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When the cardinals sent billowing white smoke from their conclave and elected Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope Francis I, little did the Catholic Church realize that two millennia of ecumenical liturgy might come unraveled on the heresy of offshore banking regulations. Among the many frustrations that drove Pope Benedict XVI to take early retirement was his role as guardian angel of the Institute for the Works of Religion (the formal title for the Vatican Bank), which can no longer get past compliance questions by answering that its beneficial owner is “the Almighty.”  read more »