Plaza Accord Redux


Read the latest from Randal Hines on the world’s ongoing financial crisis, and how looking to the past might help with a solution for the future:

“Those who enjoy watching train wrecks will find this column richly rewarding. As the financial press worries over the U.S. debt crisis, the E.U. collapse, Italian political revanchism, and recessions in China and Brazil, a new star may be added to the worry list:

The world’s third largest economy, once nominated to overtake the U.S. by now, Japan’s economy has stumbled badly, and is likely to get worse before it jumps off its own “cliff”. This might, perversely, give central banker’s pause for cheer. After all, some central bankers can recall 1985 as though it were yesterday.

In 1985, the finance ministers of the world’s five biggest economies convened at the Plaza Hotel in New York City to finalize and sign the Plaza Accord, an agreement to devalue the U.S. Dollar against the Japanese Yen and German Deutsche Mark. Prior to the Plaza Accord, the dollar had appreciated approximately 50% against the Yen, D-Mark and British Pound. The coordinated devaluation of the Rockefeller CenterDollar was meant to kick-start the U.S. economy, which was struggling with a large current account deficit, an overvalued currency and an economy still struggling to get back to full unemployment in the wake of the early 1980’s recession.

The Accord was a success and achieved a multitude of firsts. It was the first time central bankers agreed to intervene in the currency markets, the first time the world set interest rate targets and the first time each of the G-5 nations agreed to adjust their own economies. In other words sovereignty was exchanged for globalization. Most importantly, it avoided a chaotic currency war.”

Read more on China, France, America and the world beyond in the latest edition of Carnet Atlantique!

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牛津,剑桥,伦敦政经学院 (Oxford, Cambridge, LSE)


Check out our handy-dandy guide to studying at a top UK school–now available in English and Mandarin!


Oxford offers a distinctive form of undergraduate education, unique in the world to Oxford and Cambridge. What makes us distinctive is:
牛津所提供的是一种独具特色的本科教育,一种不同于世界而只属于牛津剑桥的教育。我们的特色是 :

A Levels, the International Baccalaureate or equivalent qualifications, covering three or four subjects in depth, are the usual preparation for undergraduate study at Cambridge. We ask for the highest grades in these subjects, and assess students not only on their achievements in these exams, but also on their ability and readiness to join in discussion of their subject.

If you wish to apply for an undergraduate place here, you need to be in the top one or two per cent of your year group, and doing very well in the subject area you would like to study.

The Chinese Senior High School Diploma is not acceptable as an entry qualification for LSE. Applicants from would be expected to offer, either instead or in addition, one of the following:

Read more about how to get into your top school in the latest edition of Carnet Atlantique!

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Oxford offers a distinctive form of undergraduate education, unique in the world to Oxford and Cambridge. What makes us distinctive is:
牛津所提供的是一种独具特色的本科教育,一种不同于世界而只属于牛津剑桥的教育。我们的特色是 :

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Paul Volcker


“It was August of 1981 and Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker was the most unpopular man in America.

Unemployment was 11 percent, the prime interest rate was 21.5 percent, the economy was in a tailspin and it had all been laid at Volcker’s feet. Car dealers mailed him the keys to cars they couldn’t sell. His face appeared on a wanted poster put up by a homebuilders’ association in Kentucky. A parade of farmers hamstrung by high interest rates drove tractors in the streets around the Federal Reserve (Eccles) building. A man armed with guns, a phony bomb and a knife almost made it into a Federal Reserve meeting room before a guard tackled him.

But two years later Volcker was being hailed as a hero. Runaway interest rates had been tamed to the single digits. Volcker would soon be gone from the Fed, departing half-lionized, half-reviled. The years haven’t always been kind of his legacy; some have blamed his policies for the Latin American debt crisis in the 1980s, and for the American savings and loans crisis in the 1980s and ’90s. However, today, the 85-year-old Volcker is perceived as the go-to man for journalists and bloggers who seek a “tell it like it is” commentator on domestic and international finance.”

Check out Carnet Atlantique’s Mary Wilds’ look at the controversial financial figure Paul Volcker in the latest edition of Carnet Atlantique!


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Japan may fire warning shots at Chinese aircraft, leading to war


China Daily Mail

SCMP says in its report: “Tokyo considers authorising Japanese military aircraft to take action if China’s planes enter air space near disputed waters

Japan‘s defence ministry is considering authorising the country’s Air Self-Defence Force (ASDF) jets to fire warning shots when Chinese planes enter air space claimed by Japan, Japanese media reported yesterday.

“Citing sources close to the Japanese government, the Sankei newspaper reported that Tokyo had instructed the defence ministry and ASDF to look at stepping up warnings to People’s Liberation Army planes and Chinese government aircraft that ‘intrude into Japanese air space’.”

According to, in an interview with a reporter of official People’s Daily’s, well-known military expert Major General Yin Zhuo, Chairman of Navy IT Experts Committee, said that China will return shots of life ammunition in response of Japan’s warning shots.

War seems imminent if Japan makes the…

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Analysts split over report saying China ‘far healthier’ than America

China Daily Mail

USA China FlagsA report by a top mainland academic institution that suggests China is in a far healthier state than the United States and will soon overtake the world’s only superpower economically has sparked controversy, with some analysts casting doubt on it.

China’s “national health” has been better than that of the US since 2007, and its advantage will grow further from 2019, when China is expected to become the world’s biggest economy, the Chinese Academy of Sciences said in its first National Health Report.

National health was defined as a country’s “overall conditions … using resource sufficiency and wealth distribution as the major criteria”, Xinhua reported, without elaborating.

Describing the US as a man past his prime and China as a vigorous youngster, the report said national health was the best form of capital that China could use to surpass the US.

China was likely to surpass the US in…

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Lettre de Vaison-la-Romaine: Between a Rock and a Hard Place


Julian Crandall Hollick examines taxation in Provence in his latest piece. In a nutshell: all is not well outside Paris.

“Vaisonnais, like everyone else in the world, are convinced they are overtaxed. They look at the new high school, the new day care centre, the newly-restored town square – the Place Montfort – the repaved cobblestone street that leads up to the medieval village. They assume that their taxes have paid for all of this. Most people here are totally unaware that local taxes are directly siphoned off to Paris. Later, Paris sends some of it back to towns like Vaison, but always less than what was raised in the first place.

The warning signs are out for the so-called “rich” who live in the medieval village above the rest of the town. ‘You’re all rich, so we’re not going to spend a centime more on your village! We have to take care of the little people.’

It’s useless to point out that not everyone in the village is rich. There’s Yvette who somehow survives on $600 a month. But social services take care of most of the basics – food, health care, transport. And she’s not a solitary exception. There are others – now old, who were given free housing in the tiny medieval stone houses in the village after the Second World War, when there was little or no affordable housing for the young. But whether it’s because the village is perched on the rock that dominates, or because it’s also full of foreigners (Parisians count as foreigners round here) they are perceived as rich. And in an election year no one worth his political salt is going to be seen spending dwindling public money on them …

This profound mistrust of making money means seeking private money to pay for some of this building is problematic at best. In Paris it may no longer be totally taboo. But in Vaison it borders on apostasy. Agriculture may no longer be the dominant occupation, but it still conditions the Vaison mindset. Peasants have an ingrained mistrust of any innovation because ‘it must always be at someone else’s expense.'”

Read more about the tenuous relationship between Paris and Provence in the latest edition of Carnet Atlantique!

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Lettre de Londres: Boris Johnson: Court Jester?


Our London correspondent Austin Ashley weighed in on the (brutally) comical Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, in the latest edition of Carnet Atlantique:

“Johnson, avowedly a member of Cameron’s Conservative party, is riding a wave of post-Olympics popularity. Having achieved the impossible and made the British public laugh with him during his gaffes (rather than at him), rumour has it that his next conquest will be the leadership of the Conservative party. Some are even talking about him becoming Prime Minister one day!

For now though, Boris is trying to downplay the rumours. His speech at the Conservative party conference, while characteristically flamboyant, was hardly a call to arms. Asked whether he is planning to challenge David Cameron, Boris simply responds that he is fully behind the Prime Minister. But then again, asked whether he would run as a Member of Parliament at the same time as being editor of the Spectator newspaper a few years ago, he replied ‘absolutely not’. After a few months, Boris was the Member of Parliament for North Oxford, juggling his editorship of the Spectator, his Oxford constituency, a growing family and a demanding mistress too.

Johnson’s unwelcome and thinly camouflaged apostasy comes as Cameron’s coalition government is internally riven on several fronts, not the least endless debate on Britain’s role vis-à-vis the European Project, whether the U.K. plays spoiler, denying E.U. budget approval. If there is any agreement whatsoever, it is that no one supports the Government’s position, precisely where the agreement both begins and ends.”

Check it out here!

Read more on France, America, China and the world beyond in the latest edition of Carnet Atlantique!

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