Good Reads: Why nations fail, and how we overlook some successes
This week's reading list includes a close look at why nations fail, how Africa is booming, why Greece's default won't be such a tragedy after all, and how Facebook's IPO is a warning bell.
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"American media have largely failed to pick up on these trends, hewing instead to their long-running traditional narratives of African violence and suffering to the exclusion of most other news,” writes Mr. French, a former New York Times Africa bureau chief who is now an associate professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. “Corporate America, though, is proving itself increasingly attentive to Africa as a big new growth story. Big companies, from retail to technology, are approaching Africa as a promising new growth frontier. Many are already investing heavily there.”Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Monitor photographers in Africa
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Why Greece should fail
Newspapers these days are full of free advice about how the European Union should handle the crisis of a number of poorer European countries that have spent themselves deeply into debt. For the most part, the advice has been that Europe needs to put on a stern-Mommy face and then punish Greece (and Spain, and Italy) by, well, by giving them lots of money to help them pay off their debts. If Europe doesn’t do this, stock market confidence will plummet.
Here is an alternative viewpoint, written by Thomas Oatley and Kindred Winecoff in this week's Foreign Policy.
…Greece is not Lehman Brothers. Lehman's failure triggered a global crisis because Lehman was at the center of the global financial network. Greece, in contrast, is at the periphery of this network. Global crises don't start in the periphery. While a Greek collapse would certainly be devastating for Greece and some of its neighbors, the rest of the world is likely to escape with minor disruptions to their economies.
Why Steve Coll is leaving Facebook
You probably saw the headlines this week about Facebook launching an initial public offering of its stock, and clicked on your own internal “Like” button when the price of that stock fell, and fell.
Steve Coll, the former Washington Post writer and now president of the New America Foundation in Washington, looked at that same phenomenon and saw warning signs. In this week’s New Yorker, Mr. Coll writes that the arrival of Facebook investors is likely to put pressure on Facebook to be even more intrusive into the personal information that Facebook users voluntarily post online. And BTW, Coll is so “un-friending” Facebook.
Facebook’s huge valuation now puts pressure on the company’s strategists to increase its revenue-per-user. That means more ads, more data mining, and more creative thinking about new ways to commercialize the personal, cultural, political, and even revolutionary activity of users.
There is something vaguely dystopian about oppressed peoples in Syria or Iran seeking dignity and liberation inside a corporate sovereign that is, for its part, creating great wealth for its founders and asserting control over its users.