Longitude #16

May, 2012


Joining the club

Developing wealth
by Lanfranco Vaccari­­

For the first time in history, extreme poverty is easing worldwide, despite the recession in the West and a spike in food prices. And as a strong middle class grows in the emerging economies, a virtuous cycle is spurring a higher quality of life and better governance.

Extreme poverty
Can better data end world poverty?
by Moreno Zani

Studies show there has been a drop in extreme poverty. On closer inspection, however, much depends on the agreed-upon cut-off levels. Also, due to a host of changing economic factors, this apparent enrichment may pose unforeseen problems.

Through a glass brightly
by Antonio Pascale

Is the world really rising up from poverty? By taking only incomes into account, the answer depends on how you interpret the data. But if you look at other criteria, there’s no denying an improvement in the quality of life.

Whither the BRICS?
by Andrea Goldstein

The world’s economies must give thanks to nations that were once considered undeveloped. But now that the BRICS have emerged, what can they do with their hard-earned political clout?

Banking on Jim
by Domenico Lombardi

Will a new World Bank president mean a new role for the institution? Considering the steadily increasing number of players in the area of development funding, it will have no choice but to adapt.

Conservatives groping in the twilight

Growing pains
by Christopher Caldwell

For all the talk of Republicans in crisis, one mustn’t ignore a deep vein of conservatism in America. The GOP is currently in a transition phase that may have negative repercussions – but only in the short term.

An examination of conservative conscience
by Carlo Pelanda, Selmon Franklin

Conservatives are witnessing a rift between realists and idealists, which will have a huge impact on both the upcoming election and on the Republican Party for years to come. Can the two sides come together and grow stronger, or will we see a split?

Romneycare vs. Obamacare
by Giancarlo Loquenzi

With the possibility of the US Supreme Court declaring Obama’s healthcare reform unconstitutional, the Republicans should be happy. But such an outcome might create even more problems for the GOP.

by Stash Luczkiw

With the rapid “browning of America,” Republicans and Democrats are faced with a new reality on the ground. Both need to understand how the demographic shift will affect voters’ political
center of gravity.

The Red and the Blue in numbers
From my cold dead fingers
by Andrea Mancia

Many claim to be hearing the last gasps of the American conservative movement. But its origins and development point rather to an ebb and flow often determined by charismatic leaders.


Finding the right way
by Marina Valensise

The upcoming French elections will determine not only who governs France, but in which direction Europe will move. If France strays from the path it has taken thus far in the economic crisis, the rest of the continent could splinter.

SPACs, a no brainer
by Richard Greco, Achille Teofilatto

Everyone agrees. What Europe needs right now is growth. But how to encourage economic growth in areas that are still coming to terms with a deep recession? In countries like Italy, where production tends to come from small to medium-sized companies, the use of Special Purpose Acquisition Companies is smart solution to the problem of raising capital.

International trade

A fistful of rare earths
by Maurizio Stefanini

Relatively new commodities such as lithium, coltan and rare earths – crucial to high-tech manufacturing – are impacting geostrategic relations. Upstarts are cashing in on resources and established players are trying to consolidate their positions.

The Iron War
by Enrico Verga

Despite having its own deposits, China, the world’s biggest consumer of iron, needs to import huge amounts to feed its hungry economy. The world’s biggest producer, Brazil’s Vale, is now vying for control of the market.  

Warming bloopers

Paying the price
by Carlo Clini

The effects of global warming have manifested in a spate of extreme weather. If the trend continues, insurance companies will need to tweak their models or suffer financial losses.