Longitude #14

March, 2012



Follow the yellow brick road
by Richard Greco

Gold is not only experiencing a bull market, it is making a comeback in the minds of economists and legislators who have come to question the goodwill of governments that back currencies with nothing but the wizardry ­of goodwill.

A glittering history
by Maurizio Stefanini

In volatile times people have historically turned to gold as a hedge against turbulence. Since the financial crisis the price of the precious metal has risen dramatically. But it may be revealing to see who has it, who’s accumulating it, who’s selling it, and why.

Buffing up American cities

by Stash Luczkiw

Inner cities are hip again, and young people are moving there in droves. But since cities – more than suburbs and the country – need government money to work well, the demographic trend will no doubt effect politics.

The great American sprawl
Motor City on the skids
by Alberto Mucci

Over the years Detroit has become synonymous with urban blight and the demise of US manufacturing. Other cities in similar circumstances have turned a corner. If, as it seems, Detroit has hit bottom, then hope may be springing up from the vacant lots.

Riding the Latino wave
by Christopher Caldwell

The rapidly growing Hispanic population may be troubling to some in the US, but ultimately this new wave is one of the main forces keeping the country competitive and full of youthful energy.

Prime time for urban America
by Giancarlo Loquenzi

TV has become the most poignant narrative expression of the American experience. With cities as veritable protagonists, a host of new TV series afford insight into how metropolitan life is changing.

Get your freegan hands in that dumpster!
by Enrico Verga

The number of Americans getting food stamps is at an all-time high. Now cities are witnessing the birth of a scavenger culture taking advantage of what has become a scandalously wasteful society. With so much free food being eaten, producers are reassessing their role in the food chain.

Global markets

The IMF: setting up shop in Europe
by Domenico Lombardi

The globalized economy is struggling through a systemic crisis. As one of the few institutions created to deal explicitly with such events, the International Monetary Fund is reasserting itself. At the same time, it must redefine its own purpose in a changing world.

Growth, innovation and globalization
by Gabriele Galateri di Genola

The insurance industry is a key element of the world’s interdependent economy. A better understanding of its role in international business provides insight into the benefits and hazards of globalization.


Sarkozy joins the race before Hollande pulls away
by Marina Valensise

The French President has announced his candidacy in the middle of a grim economic situation. He’s hoping that a focus on values will combine with the center-right’s perennial call for competitiveness to get him reelected.

Selling Britain by the pound
by Leonardo Maisano

Once the world’s biggest manufacturer, the UK now lives and dies by financial services. So any EU pact that would risk London’s status of world financial hub will be met with huge resistance. Meanwhile, Britain is opening up to non-EU investors.

The People’s Party adjusts
by Franco Frattini

In times of rapid change it is important that Europe’s political families not to be tied down by prescriptions that may be obsolete.

The EU’s unwilling golden goose
by Ubaldo Villani-Lubelli

While the US and the BRICs are obsessed with growth, the German economic model of rigor and austerity seems to be going against the current. Yet the numbers show that Germany’s efforts have proven successful. Will this, however, be the right recipe for Europe?

“Leder” of the pack
by Francesco Galietti

Germany has shown scant interest in the Mediterranean recently. But given the turmoil in the Middle East and its strategic importance to the German economy, national interests will inevitably lead it to play a more forceful role.


One hand turns to fist
by Lanfranco Vaccari­­

For decades, Egypt’s military has been seen as “one hand with the people” and it benefited both politically and economically. At the beginning of the 2011 revolution, the armed forces still enjoyed huge popular support. No more: a year of ham-handed tactics has brought them to the point where their main concern is staying in business.

Shutting out the NGOs

Egypt has cracked down on 43 NGO activists, 19 of them American. Yet despite huge amounts of US aid, the Americans have little sway over Egypt. In fact, the US may need to give more than Egypt needs to get.


The Ankara gambit in Syria
by Paola Peduzzi

As the situation deteriorates and the international community struggles for consensus, Turkey has taken the initiative in the Syrian crisis. While no end game is in sight, one benefit is already perceptible: improved relations with the US.


Russia’s thousand and one nightmares
by Carlo Panella

The Arab world continues to reel from a year of revolts, and Russia keeps coming out as a geopolitical loser. With Syria on the brink, Russia’s short-sighted Middle East policies hark back to the mistakes of the USSR.

Warming bloopers

Not so swimmingly
by Carlo Clini

When theMaldives government fell, the tiny archipelago nationmay have set off a symbolic sinking of all communities located at sea level.