Klein's Commentary

Go beyond the headlines

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In-Sourcing the U.S. Middle Class

Welcome back American manufacturing. U.S. in-sourcing (global companies bringing jobs back to the U.S. that were previously sent overseas) hit the mainstream news cycle again this month. An in-depth Atlantic article by Charles Fishman on GE’s plans to manufacture  high-end appliances has drawn exceptional attention. James Fallows, also in The Atlantic, provided the China context….

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If China Televised a Presidential Debate

(Sometime in the future . . .) Moderator, internationally-renowned artist Ai Weiwei: Thank you all for coming to the National Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Beijing for this first ever, internationally televised CCTV – China Presidential Debate. There will be no opening remarks, only questions submitted by Weibo users whose names will be…

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Foxconn Riot

Foxconn Riots and the Limits of China’s Middle Class

Several thousand rioting workers in Foxconn’s Taiyuan factory this week highlighted the inherent limits on China’s emerging middle class. Questions about the causes of the violence continue to circulate, either a dispute sparked by a security guard beating a worker or a fight in one of the privately contracted dormitories that went awry. (Jennifer Preston…

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The Decline of the Rest

A popular economic theme made the rounds not so long ago that featured prominently in a series of “end of the west, rise of the rest” predictions. It went something like this. Emerging Asia, now an independent source of world growth driven by their expanding middle class no longer relied on the collective “west” for…

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World Politics Review Article on the Global Middle Class – Part II

The damage done to the global middle class, while significant, is not irreparable. The solutions are as varied as the countries themselves, but they all share several key features that influence whether a consumer-driven economy will flourish or not. First and foremost is access to capital for small and medium-sized enterprises. In developed and developing…

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World Politics Review Article: The Crisis of the Global Middle Class

The Arab Spring uprisings were fueled by the rising expectations of a nascent middle class in the face of opportunity that for too long had been denied. Tunisia’s uprising was in essence a middle class awakening, with the fight for economic opportunity replacing political ideology as the principal force shaping the future of fragile nations….

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Tokyo Cafe

Blog Series: The Middle Class – Engine of Innovation

Consider this: The greatest inventions of the modern age— from the light bulb and the telephone to antibiotics, airplanes and the computer— were all made possible by the purchasing power of the middle class. Without this market much of what has redefined the way people live today would never have been successfully developed. While early…

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Good Times Gone Bad
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Blog Series: Rebuilding the Global Middle

Part I: Good Times Gone Very, Very Bad – It seems like a quaint folk tale told to schoolchildren. Study, work hard, and you too can live happily ever after. The American Dream, each generation better off than the last meant true upward mobility. Skills rather than birthright defined success. It’s been the mainstay of…

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Mid-Day Note: Global Economic Data Disappoints

U.S. economy still lags. Today’s U.S. housing and consumer confidence figures failed to signal a real economic rebound. This after Moody’s downgrades of fifteen banks last week, including Goldman Sachs, and earlier Federal Reserve data* showing U.S. household net wealth plunging over 40 percent between 2007-2010. That’s an entire generation of wealth creation gone in…

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China-Shops

The Diplomat Article: The Rise of Global Feudalism

In April 2007, New Century Financial Corporation filed for what was then a little noticed bankruptcy protection. Their mortgage-backed securities had become worthless and by summer Bear Stearns began liquidating hedge funds. Come autumn, Britain’s fifth largest mortgage lender Northern Rock was on the ropes propped up by the Bank of England. The rest is…

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