5 insightful op-eds or articles to help make sense of today’s world

Nauro Campos, “Football in the Time of Protest”
(VOX, June 13, 2014)
The FIFA World Cup has just started. In this short article, the economist analyzes why protests will co-exist with partying. Rent seeking is one of the key reasons why countries bid for the championship. As returns on transportation infrastructure are higher in poor countries, he argues that the international community should work to eradicate corruption so that poor countries continue to host mega-events.

Dani Rodrik, “Rethinking Democracy”
(Project Syndicate, June 11, 2014)
The Princeton economist observes that the dissemination of democracy has been a significant benefit of globalization, but posits that not all is well with democracy: “Today’s democratic governments perform poorly, and their future remains very much in doubt.” He asserts that the crisis of liberal democracy is a reflection of the stress under which the nation-state finds itself.

Chrystia Freeland, “It’s Not Just George Soros Anymore”
(Politico, June 8, 2014)
Based on her participation at the much-talked about “Inclusive Capitalism” conference recently held in London, the journalist wonders why some plutocrats now accept the evidence that capitalism is no longer working for the middle class, and are trying to figure out what to do about that. She believes that the emphasis on fairness is a big and consequential change.

Dexter Filkins, “In Extremist’s Iraq Rise, America’s Legacy”
(The New Yorker, June 11, 2014)
A timely article as Iraq is on the verge of complete disintegration, possibly triggering multiple chain reactions (oil prices, Kurdistan’s rise to power, etc.). This short piece argues that Iraq’s breakdown was very predictable. The US’s withdrawal combined with al-Maliki’s sectarianism just paved the way for ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham: a Al-Qaeda spawn).

Gwynn Guilford, “Proof that China’s leaders are really freaked out about a housing collapse”
(Quartz, June 13, 2014)
A quick read from the digital news outlet. Two simple charts make the following points with much clarity: (1) China’s leaders worry about real estate – property investment growth fell to a 22-month low of 10.4% in May, property sales fell nearly 11% last month, while housing starts shrank by around 8%; and as a result (2) they are hitting the stimulus pedal hard.