Longitude #20

October, 2012

Editor's column

Choosing heads

The kiss of power
by Vittorio Emanuele Parsi

No one doubts that a future duopoly on world power might materialize. But as it stands, neither the waxing nor the waning power wants to commit itself unnecessarily. Will the rest of the world suffer the delay?

Behind the scenes
by Han S. Park

On the eve of the imminent changeover in the CCP, there is an ongoing power struggle in which the emerging new leadership aims to dampen pragmatism and runaway capitalism. Can China remain dynamic and strong while maintaining the harmony and stability it so values?

The Princelings vs. the Shanghai Clique
by Michele Bagella

Behind a veneer of consensus, two main factions are vying for control of the new “Fifth Generation” of Chinese communist rulers. By the time a leader is picked, most of the concessions will have been made.

Ethnic minorities in China
China’s ethnic fringe
by Alessandra Cappelletti

Stability over the past few decades has proved to be the key to China’s economic success. With an array of often restive ethnicities, this hard-earned stability could easily be jeopardized. How is China handling its ethnic issues?

by Stash Luczkiw

As Americans prepare for the presidential election, their choice will be based as much on an aesthetic vision of how America should be as on the proposals and promises of the opposing candidates.

In need of a GPS
by Christopher Caldwell

Both candidates in the US presidential elections seem lost as they try to navigate the globalized economy. The absence of new ideas only adds to the high level of electoral frustration.

Facing up to Europe
by Domenico Lombardi

As financial markets wait with bated breath to see what steps Europe will take, or refuse to take, in an effort to resolve its sovereign debt crisis, both US presidential candidates are laying out their strategies for the Old Continent.

Wealth protection

Aesthetics or investment?
by Roberto Crapelli

Throughout the economic crisis, many investors have turned to diamonds and art as refuge assets. Such assets have performed well, but the risks are very different compared to more conventional investments.

The global art and diamond markets
The eclipse of trust
by Hermann Simon, Danilo Zatta

In a society where the atmosphere slides from civic harmony to cynical distrust, the first casualty is the smooth operation of institutions that assume people are not out to rip each other off.

Art as wealth
by Alessandra Di Castro

Antique works of art are a primary source of investment. As the volatility of stocks, bonds and commodities increases, the aesthetic safe haven of art has become increasingly attractive.

Diamonds in rough times
by Maurizio Stefanini

The evolution of the diamond industry has led gem producers to treat their products more like other commodities. As wary investors scramble for scarce safe havens, they have begun to consider the world’s hardest substance – once valued primarily for its dazzle.


A European mood swing
by Stefano Cingolani

Now that Germany is beginning to loosen the screws on its profligate neighbors and singing the same tune as the ECB, Europe is breathing a sigh of relief. Will the calm be enough to finish the job of integration?

Germany and Europe: the tricky balance
by Gianluca Sadun Bordoni

Ever since the first German unification, Europe has had to come to terms with the power source at its geographic core. Again, the presence of a unified Germany is determining Europe’s future.


Syrian boxes
by Alessandro Merola

The war in Syria is a geopolitical no-win situation. Whatever the outcome, the complications do not bode well for the region. Many are nostalgic for the status quo ante, but unfortunately there is no turning back.


The holy grail of physics
by Luciano Maria Barone

The confirmation of the mysterious particle known as the Higgs boson, which scientists have been looking to prove for decades, is an example of a once-in-a-generation discovery that will leave an indelible mark on how scientists understand reality. 


A diplomatic path to growth
by Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata

With Europe in the grips of a recession, economic growth has become a priority. Since the world economy is now globalized, growth needs to be a foreign policy priority as well.

Warming bloopers

Unsustainable depletion
by Carlo Clini

Between global warming and illegal fishing, hundreds of fish species are at risk of extinction. One way of combatting this problem in the short term is to get tough with those who fish illegally.