Sunday reading links

Iceland On The Thames: Can Countries Really Go Bankrupt?
Germany’s Spiegel has an excellent three-part analysis here.
“There’s a rumor going around that states cannot go bankrupt,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said recently at a private bank event in Frankfurt. “This rumor is not true.” Of course she’s right. Countries can go bankrupt if they allow their deficit spending to spin out of control and are no longer able to service their interest payments. Merkel’s comments can be read as a warning that countries need to keep their deficit spending in check. The message is: If governments go too far in trying to bail out companies and the economy, they could face insolvency themselves. More here.

‘Jimmy Carter’ tag has Obama wincing
Less than two weeks into his administration, President Barack Obama is being portrayed by opponents as a new Jimmy Carter – weak at home and naive abroad – in an attempt to dim his post-election glow and ensure that he serves only one term. The charge has stung because it was made privately by Hillary Clinton supporters during a hard-fought primary campaign and plays to fears about Obama’s inexperience. More here.

Latin America’s Quiet Revolution
Most of Latin America is undergoing a period of unprecedented political and economic transformation. In Chile, Brazil, Peru, Uruguay, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Panama, the Dominican Republic and, yes, Mexico — which is most decidedly not a failing state –there has been a quiet but substantial movement toward the creation of societies that are characterized by increased economic opportunity, social mobility and political democracy. More here.

Criminal Netwarriors in Mexico’s Drug Wars
Mexico is imploding in a series of interlocking ‘criminal insurgencies’ culminating in a virtual civil war. Kidnappings, assassinations, beheadings, shoot-outs: Mexico is gripped by combat between drug cartels, gangs and the police. Mexican President Felipe Calderon starkly states: “It’s a War.” More here.

IMB Piracy Map 2008
This map shows all the piracy and armed robbery incidents reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre during 2008. If exact coordinates are not provided, estimated positions are shown based on information provided. Zoom-in and click on the pointers to view more information of an individual attack. Pointers may be superimposed on each other.

US National Intelligence Council Publishes New Paper On Global Health
An excellent paper on the Strategic Implications of Global Health, complete with some truly outstanding charts and graphics.

National Gang Threat Assessment 2009
This intelligence assessment is a collaborative effort between the US National Gang Intelligence Center (NGIC) and the NDIC to examine the threat posed to the United States by criminal gangs. The assessment is based on federal, state, and local law enforcement information and is supplemented by information retrieved from open sources. Information and data used for this report were collected through September 2008. It discusses the proliferation of gangs from urban areas to suburban and rural locations, estimates of the number of gangs and gang members in the United States, gang types, gang-related criminal activities, locations where specific gangs operate, and the relationships between gangs and other criminal organizations. Regional summaries highlighting the most significant gang-related trends are also provided. The assessment also identifies intelligence gaps and provides predictive estimates regarding significant gang related issues. Go here.

Australia’s PM Rudd: Time for a new world order
Australia’s PM Kevin Rudd calls for a new era of “social capitalism” in which government intervention and regulation feature heavily.
In an essay to be published this coming week, the PM Rudd says the time has come “to proclaim that the great neo-liberal experiment of the past 30 years has failed, that the emperor has no clothes,” he writes of those who placed their faith in the corrective powers of the market. More here.

Russia’s Reserves No Longer Cover Foreign Debt. More here.

Saudi and Yemeni Branches of al-Qaida Unite
Earlier this week we learned that the Saudi and Yemeni branches of al-Qaida have formally merged. More here.

Oil Price: How Low Can It Go?
Saudi Arabia and other oil-producing states find themselves dancing the Limbo these days. Oil prices are near 10-year lows, a global economic downturn has reduced demand. In trying to balance the market, Saudi Arabia is reducing its production to 7.7 million barrels per day. More here.

Grand Strategy Disconnect
Worth a read as the Obama administration launches its Wilsonian diplomatic charm offensive to remake the world in America’s image. Will the gringos never learn? More here.

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About Caracas Gringo

Representing less than 0.00000000001515152% of the world population as of 31 December 2011.
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