31 mai 2008

Longue vie aux hégémonies Économie États-Unis Philosophie

"These facts are uncomfortable for libertarians. We would like to think of trade and military hegemony as substitutes. Instead, they appear to be complements."

TCS Daily
The Benefits of Hegemony
By Arnold Kling*

Marco Polo, his father, and his uncle, were merchants. They were able to trade throughout Asia because of the protection of Kublai Khan, grandson of Genghis Kahn. These rulers created a Mongol hegemony in Asia.

Trade flourishes under hegemony. That is the lesson I took from Power and Plenty, a dense, arduous survey of economic history written by Ronald Findlay and Kevin H. O'Rourke. In addition to the Mongol empire, they describe the increased trade under the hegemonies of the Romans, the Muslim Caliphate, and various dynasties in China and Latin America during the first millenium. Of course, the most recent example of trade under hegemony has been what Walter Russell Mead in God and Gold calls the maritime powers of Great Britain and the United States.

It makes sense once you think about it. Disparate peoples can coexist in three ways: in isolation, under hegemony, or at war. In the absence of hegemony, peaceful intercourse is an elusive ideal.

Squalid Isolation

Geographical isolation has been a factor for most of human history. For millenia, inhabitants of what we now call the "new world" were unaware of the existence of the "old world," and vice-versa. Geographical isolation was overcome by transportation technology, from ocean-going ships to railroads to automobiles and airplanes. Another important technological development was communications, from the telegraph to the telephone to the Internet.

Political and military factors also have produced isolation. In medieval times, when castles were the dominant military technology, this tended to promote isolation. More recently, during the Cold War, the capitalist countries were isolated from the Communist countries, by such means as the Berlin Wall and the refusal by the United States to have any relations with Communist China.

Today, many Americans long for isolation, especially from the Islamic world. Such a desire is reflected in the political popularity of "energy independence," in spite of the impracticality of this notion.

Historically, isolation correlates with economic backwardness. The most underdeveloped societies are those that have been cut off from trade–remote islands in the ocean or villages in Africa and Latin America located far from water transport.

Squalid isolation has also been observed in the West. The fall of the Roman Empire produced isolation and decline in Europe. The two decades following World War I saw trade curtailed and living standards reduced.

The Golden Passport

In the absence of hegemony, trade is impaired. If Marco Polo wants to buy goods in Afghanistan and sell them in China, he has to be able to avoid having his goods stolen, either by bandits along the route or by criminals or government rulers at his destination. Without protection from a hegemon, he is unlikely to be able to complete his trade mission.

Marco Polo carried with him a Golden Passport, which signified Kublai Khan's protection. Every trader needs the equivalent of such a Golden Passport.

The United States Constitution was in part a contract for hegemony. The separate states were given wide latitude for setting policies within their borders. However, the "commerce clause" stated that states could not introduce tariffs or other impediments to interstate commerce.

The "commerce clause" effectively gave American traders their Golden Passport within the United States. As Walter Russell Mead points out, the British and American navies helped give Anglo-American traders a Golden Passport throughout the world.

Discomfort with Hegemony

Many liberals, of both the classical and modern varieties, are uncomfortable with hegemony. Hegemony suggests militarism and the potential for dictatorship.

Some libertarians envision a government-free world, with people too dependent on trade with one another to engage in war. Some liberals envision a world government, something like the European Union or the United Nations. These model governments enjoy apparently unlimited scope to make rules but ultimately no power to enforce them.

Many historians view hegemony as unstable. Inevitably, challengers arise. When they become sufficiently powerful relative to the hegemon, war breaks out. War destroys the hegemon, leading to chaos and squalid isolation.

The unpopularity of the Iraq war shows that Americans are not eager practitioners of hegemony. That is probably a good thing. However, we also should not be eager to give up hegemony. In theory, there are better alternatives. In practice, there are alternatives that are much worse.

*Kling is an adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute.

29 mai 2008

Gratis ! Économie En Vidéos

Lorsque capitalisme rime avec gratuité.

On n’arrêtera pas le progrès, surtout s’il est gratis !

29 mai 2008

Big pharma, big numbers ! Économie En Chiffres États-Unis Europe International

Quelques chiffres sur l'industrie pharmaceutique…

-Le temps pour développer un nouveau médicament: 10-15 ans.

-Le coût moyen pour le développement d'un nouveau médicament: 1,318 milliards de dollars.

-Investissement en recherche et développement de l'industrie pharmaceutique: 58,8 milliards de dollars.

-Nombre de médicaments approuvés en 2007: 23.

-Durée moyenne d'un brevet protégeant un médicament: 11 ans.

-Pourcentage des médicamments dont les revenus commerciaux égalent ou excèdent les coûts de recherche et développement: 20%.

-Pourcentage des médicaments qui sont des génériques (copies): 67%.

Pour chaque médicament commercialisé, l'industrie pharmaceutique doit faire des recherches sur 5 000 à 10 000 composés c.-à-d. seulement de 0,01% à 0,02% des composés développés sont commercialisés.

Big Pharma

Pharmaceutical Industry Profile 2008

29 mai 2008

Le prix de la dignité Canada Économie

Julie Couillard, l'ex de Maxime Bernier, a dit qu'elle devait parler aux médias pour rétablir sa "dignité". Cette même Julie Couillard a demandé au Toronto Star la somme de 50 000$ pour son témoignage. On sait maintenant le prix de la "dignité" de madame Couillard….

Pendant ce temps, on oublie que Maxime Bernier, en forçant le CRTC à libéraliser l'industrie des télécommunications, a probablement été le ministre le plus utile aux Canadiens depuis de nombreuses années.

Financial Post
Maxime Bernier: the 'yes' minister
By Richard Schultz, Professor and Chair, Department of Political Science, McGill University.

Over the past 40 years, telecommunications has largely been neglected by elected policy-makers. For the most part, the industry has been bureaucratically shaped while politicians have played only a supporting role for decisions made by others. This is true even for the 1993 Telecommunications Act which did not substantially affect the policy directions pursued by the CRTC ever since it gained jurisdiction over telecommunications in 1976.

This political-bureaucratic dynamic dramatically changed with the election of the Conservatives in 2006, particularly with the appointment of Maxime Bernier as minister of industry. Telecommunications was not one of the vaunted five priorities of the new government. But in one of his first appearances as minister, Bernier made it clear that he had his own agenda: “As many of you may know, our new government has five priorities, but I can assure you that telecommunications is at the top of my action list.”

Over the next year, Bernier succeeded in fundamentally changing two major decisions of the CRTC through the appeal process and imposing a policy direction on the CRTC, the first since Cabinet was authorized to do so under 1993 legislation. These initiatives represented the most profound policy changes to the regulatory regime since the introduction of competition in 1979. They also established, for the first time, that elected authorities, not appointed officials, were responsible for setting policy.

Bernier was able to overcome both Cabinet and PMO doubts and determined opposition from both his departmental officials and those in the Privy Council Office. For the first time in the past 40 years of federal regulation of telecommunications, a minister had made a policy difference.

The major direction Cabinet sent to the CRTC substantially re-interpreted the policy objectives of the Telecommunications Act. The regulator was ordered to give market forces primacy in its regulatory decisions which was a fundamental re-ordering of the objectives of telecommunications regulation. […]

After the Cabinet order, the new CRTC chair said, “the message is clear: the government wants to move quickly toward more reliance on market forces in telecom services, less regulation and smarter regulation. I welcome the clarity and I welcome the variation order.”

Thus concluded the 12-month series of battles that had been fought following the appointment of Maxime Bernier as minister of industry, battles that the minister had clearly won.

28 mai 2008

Vive les dollars libres ! Chine Économie En Citations Mondialisation Philosophie

Thomas Barnett

Pour faire suite au vidéo de Milton Freidman sur la liberté politique et la liberté économique, voici une citation de Thomas Barnett, tiré de son livre "The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-First Century":

"A Chinese friend of mine who had been active in the democracy movement explained…’Before Tianenmen, we believed that freedom is 90 percent political and 10 percent economic. A few years later, we came to realize that freedom is 90 percent economic and 10 percent political.’ You may find my friend's change of heart troublesome, but think about your own daily life and then try to tell me that second formula isn't a better description of how things really work for the vast majority of Americans."

28 mai 2008

Pour qui les profits ? Économie États-Unis Moyen-Orient


On aime bien casser du sucre sur le dos des pétrolières et de leurs profits. Pourtant…

En 2007, les 3 plus grosses pétrolières américaines (Exxon, Chevron et ConocoPhillips) ont totalisé des profits de 71,2 milliards de dollars. De leur côté, les pays de l'OPEP ont réalisé des profits de… 674 milliards de dollars. À elle seule, l'Arabie Saoudite presque 3 fois plus de profits qu'Exxon, Chevron et ConocoPhillips mis ensemble…

28 mai 2008

Mythomane Élection 2008 États-Unis Hétu Watch

Une nouvelle journée, une nouvelle gaffe pour Barack Obama…

Barack Obama

Obama le 27 mai 2008 à propos de son oncle:

« I had a uncle who was one of the, who was part of the first American troops to go into Auschwitz and liberate the concentration camps. »

Le problème ? Les camps d’Auschwitz ont été libérés par les Soviétiques, pas par les Américains…

Reste à savoir si Richard Hétu parlera de cette nouvelle gaffe…

27 mai 2008

Libertés politiques vs. libertés économiques Économie En Vidéos Philosophie

Milton Friedman au sujet de la différence entre les libertés politiques et les libertés économiques:

La liberté
Téléchargé par TheEconomist

Indeed !

27 mai 2008

What the FARC ? Élection 2008 États-Unis Hétu Watch Terrorisme Venezuela

Une nouvelle journée et une nouvelle gaffe pour Barack Obama…

Barack Obama

Dans un premier temps, Barack Obama a reconnu que le Venezuela entretenait des liens avec les FARC et qu’il désirait parler de la chose avec Hugo Chavez:

« One of the obvious high priorities in my talks with President Hugo Chavez would be the fermentation of anti-American sentiment in Latin America, his support of FARC in Colombia and other issues he would want to talk about. »

Barack Obama


Le lendemain, Barack Obama déclare que tous les pays ayant des relations avec les FARC doivent être isolés:

« We will shine a light on any support for the FARC that comes from neighboring governments. This behavior must be exposed to international condemnation, regional isolation, and – if need be – strong sanctions. It must not stand. »

Une journée Obama désire négocier avec Chavez et le lendemain il parle d’isoler le régime et de le soumettre à des sanctions. Obama ou l’art du flip-flop !

Mais ça, Richard Hétu n’en parlera jamais