Friday, November 28, 2008

Three Nation Roundup

In America, it's thanksgiving. Obama has a thanksgiving address, and it's pretty good. Krugman has a column, though, and it's better:
A few months ago I found myself at a meeting of economists and finance officials, discussing — what else? — the crisis. There was a lot of soul-searching going on. One senior policy maker asked, “Why didn’t we see this coming?”

There was, of course, only one thing to say in reply, so I said it: “What do you mean ‘we,’ white man?
The moaning about "how it wasn't predicted" does have a point though:
Now we’re in the midst of another crisis, the worst since the 1930s. For the moment, all eyes are on the immediate response to that crisis. Will the Fed’s ever more aggressive efforts to unfreeze the credit markets finally start getting somewhere? Will the Obama administration’s fiscal stimulus turn output and employment around? (I’m still not sure, by the way, whether the economic team is thinking big enough.)

And because we’re all so worried about the current crisis, it’s hard to focus on the longer-term issues — on reining in our out-of-control financial system, so as to prevent or at least limit the next crisis. Yet the experience of the last decade suggests that we should be worrying about financial reform, above all regulating the “shadow banking system” at the heart of the current mess, sooner rather than later.

For once the economy is on the road to recovery, the wheeler-dealers will be making easy money again — and will lobby hard against anyone who tries to limit their bottom lines. Moreover, the success of recovery efforts will come to seem preordained, even though it wasn’t, and the urgency of action will be lost.

So here’s my plea: even though the incoming administration’s agenda is already very full, it should not put off financial reform. The time to start preventing the next crisis is now.

Not much more to add to that. Never mind the guys bailing out of their mess now: what everybody should be worry about is the guys who are setting up for the NEXT mess to bail out of.

In Canada, the Government is apparently backing down on its pledge to gut public financing in the face of an opposition drive to defeat the Conservatives and cobble together a three-party coalition government. (Well, two-party and one extra, the Bloc strikes me as uninterested in cabinet seats.)

The funny part is that the opposition might well do it ANYWAY. Why? Because their concern that the Canadian mini-budget contains no stimulus isn't just a cover, it's real. And, yes, it is valid: Harper appears to have had the brilliant idea of capping government spending during a recession, while not providing any real stimulus.

Now, unless his actual goal is to cut energy costs by harnessing all of Canada's electricity from Keynes' furiously spinning corpse, this is ridiculously stupid. It's out of line with the entire western world. Yes, Canada's system has helped shield it from the crises, but it's not going to be shielded from the effects. Stimulus will be necessary just to help Canada through America's tough times; and that must include any and every bit of government spending that might be necessary. Carving up the budget to please your idiot base can wait.

And in India, well... you already know. My first reaction was "spraying crowds with guns? They're disciplined, but that smacks of weak logistic capabilities." Obviously I was wrong there. This was a big, big deal. I'm not thinking it was Al Qaeda, the signature is all wrong, but could it actually be connected to the Pakistani government? I'm not sure.

Kos has a nice omnibus thread on it, and links to two other sources: Nataraj's Kos diary and Barcepundit's blog. Nataraj says that it's an old group:

Looks like most of the terrorists came from Pakistan. They are said to belong to LeT (Lushkar - e - Taiba) an old terrorist outfit that has been involved in high profile terrorist attacks on India in the past. Some experts are saying direct Al Qaida involvement is likely. The name of Deccan Mujahideen is a red herring - as none of the terrorists speak with a southern accent - they speak with a Punjabi Accent.

There were certainly some local accomplices. Some others are beleived to be British citizens.

The captured terrorists are from Firodkot near Multan in Punjab (Pakistan). They were highly trained and belong to the "suidcide" group of LeT....

...but admits it's somewhat speculative, and Nataraj appears to be no great fan of Pakistan (or, um, liberalism), so take it with a big grain of salt.

And here's Juan Cole's take, where he noted something a bit alarming:

CNN is reporting that two of the terrorists may have been Britons of South Asian heritage (about half of UK Muslims are originally from Kashmir). If true, that datum would make sense of some of the tactics used in Mumbai (concentration on Americans, British and Israelis or Jews), since many young British Muslims view Anglo-American actions in Iraq and Afghanistan as a genocide against Muslims, and Israeli actions in Gaza and the West Bank as a slow genocide against Palestinians. In their fevered imagination, Hindu India is an ally in this generalized persecution of a harmless and righteous community.

In fact, the ruling Congress Party generally attracts the Muslim vote and in turn New Delhi does favors for the Muslims.

My suspicion is that a US withdrawal from Iraq will lead to fewer such incidents (The Iraq War was cited by the perpetrators of the bombings in Madrid and 7/7 in London, and it is probably implicated in this one too. Fallujah is a rallying cry).
Britons were involved in this? Hoo boy.

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