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HKS in the News June 21, 2012

1. Obama or Romney — who will be the better president on foreign policy? (Burns) The Boston Globe

2. Eurobonds to end eurozone crisis? (Frankel) The Business Times (Singapore)

3. Financial regulation sans analysis (Aldy) Politico

4. Why Energy Startups Need a China Strategy (Cunningham) Technology Review

5. The Hidden Hand – Foreign Influence on Afghan Elections (Semple) Daily Outlook Afghanistan


Obama or Romney — who will be the better president on foreign policy?

The Boston Globe

June 21

Commentary by: Nicholas Burns, Belfer Center

Topic: Foreign policy and the U.S. presidential election

November’s presidential election will be dominated by the economy, of course, but there is a big foreign policy agenda that President Obama and Governor Romney need to address. The stakes are high as we face the most complex international landscape in memory. The victor in November will face challenges as diverse as North Korea, the European economic crisis, humanitarian suffering in Syria and Sudan, and climate change.

Both Obama and Romney have the intellect, sophistication, and temperament to be successful foreign policy presidents. Obama has built an impressive record of accomplishment by restoring America’s global credibility and pursuing a relentless campaign against Al Qaeda in Pakistan and Yemen. His decision to leave Iraq was remarkably uncontroversial given our tortuous eight-year occupation. Romney will have difficulty running to Obama’s right on national security given the latter’s record in bringing Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki to justice. …

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Eurobonds to end eurozone crisis?

The Business Times (Singapore)

June 21

Commentary by: Jeffrey Frankel

Topic: The European economic crisis

Any solution to the eurozone crisis must meet a short-run objective and a long-run goal. Unfortunately, the two tend to conflict. The short-run objective is to return Greece, Portugal and other troubled countries to a sustainable debt path (that is, a declining debt/GDP ratio).

Austerity has raised debt/GDP ratios, but a debt writedown or bigger bailouts would undermine the long-term goal of minimising the risk of similar debt crises in the future.

Long-run fiscal rectitude is the only way to accomplish that goal. But it is hard to commit today to practise fiscal rectitude tomorrow. Official debt caps, such as the Maastricht fiscal criteria and the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP), failed because they were unenforceable. …

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Financial regulation sans analysis

Politico

June 20

Commentary by: Joseph Aldy, Mossavar-Rahmani Center

Topic: The need for a proper economic assessment in financial law-making

The financial crisis destroyed trillions of dollars of wealth, yet federal regulators are implementing the 2010 Dodd-Frank law, intended to prevent the next crisis, with virtually no quantitative economic analysis.

Independent regulatory agencies are busy issuing hundreds of rules — without flagging for the public which could have major effects on the economy, let alone providing a meaningful assessment of real economic effects. Without this, the most important and costly proposals cannot get the careful attention they deserve by stakeholders and Congress. More important, without proper assessments, they could end up doing more harm than good. …

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The Hidden Hand – Foreign Influence on Afghan Elections

Daily Outlook Afghanistan

June 20

Commentary by: Michael Semple, Carr Center

Topic: Afghanistan’s elections

Many years ago a Kandahari turban taught me how sensible and pragmatic Afghans can be when dealing with foreign influence. On one of my early visits to rural Kandahar as an aid worker in the latter days of the Jihad, I found myself camping in a village, along with dozens of fellow travelers, enjoying the camaraderie of the back roads one uses in a conflict. As we drank chai by moonlight, a Kandahari swapped turbans with me. Whatever it was that initially attracted my companion to the foreigner's turban; it vanished in the clear light of day. In the morning he swapped back, a sensible informed decision.

The idea of foreign influence commonly enters Afghan political discourse in two related ways. Firstly there is "foreign determinism" - the notion that all key political outcomes in Afghanistan (whether elections or internal power struggles) are determined by foreign powers, through opaque processes visible only to them and their Afghan proxies. …

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Why Energy Startups Need a China Strategy

Technology Review

June 20

Quoted: Edward Cunningham, Ash Center

Topic: Foreign investors and China

It's obvious to many that China is taking the lead in deploying new energy technologies. But figuring out how to operate in China as an outsider is often difficult. The Harvard Kennedy School of government today is hosting a symposium on the shifting role of China in the world, and the impact of China on energy and natural resources is one of the first topics to be discussed.

For some insight into doing business in China, I spoke to Edward Cunningham, an assistant professor at Boston University's Department of Geography and Environment, who is moderating a panel at the conference on energy and resources. He painted a picture of a complex business environment, where having a good read on regional economic and political dynamics is critical to a foreign company's efforts.

"It used to be that understanding the political and economic landscape before entering China was less important, but in the last five or six years [Chinese companies] have started to affect global prices," he said. "So you need a China strategy just to understand the value chain and cost structure in many vertical industries." …

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This selection of media appearances is compiled by the Office of Communications and Public Affairs.

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