Longitude #31

October, 2013


Japan’s comeback
by Marta Dassù

After years of stagnation, Japan’s economy looks like it is finally picking up. With it, the spirit of the Japanese is more optimistic about its future prospects.

Sands shift around Europe’s energy sector
by Paolo Scaroni

Caught between the shale gas revolution and the various transitions throughout the Arab world, Europe needs to change its approach to energy. Otherwise it will fall behind in competitiveness.

Sweating the deal

by Stash Luczkiw

Is Obama’s foreign policy in the Middle East a comedy of errors or a cunning display of realpolitik? Now that the war in Syria has drawn the US in, the President must show his true colors.

Mapping the Syrian Civil War
Map by Marie Joveneau
Season’s end shake-up
by Stefano Stefanini

Just when the entire Middle East looked to be on the brink of a conflagration, diplomacy took over. If the Russians and Americans continue to cooperate on Syria, it could eventually lead to a reconfiguration of the international order.

No empty threat
by Carlo Jean

If you want peace, then prepare for war, the old adage goes. Obama is attributing Syria’s surprising willingness to give up its chemical arsenal and engage in negotiations to a credible threat to punish the regime with military strikes.

Containing the spillover
by Giuseppe Morabito

As the conflict in neighboring Syria rages on, Lebanon is trying to keep its own war-weary society from getting sucked into the chaos. With help from the international community, this is entirely possible.

The boons and banes of a great location
by Mohamed Choukeir

Opening out onto the Mediterranean on one side and the entire Asian land mass on the other, Lebanon knows how to deal with the tremors felt on any geopolitical fault line.

The cradle of cohabitation
by Mohammad Sammak

The world’s first civilizations sprang in what is now the Middle East. But that part of the world is currently trying to stave off a descent into chaos. Tolerance and respect for differences are the keys to peace.

De-globalized manufacturing

Reshoring American jobs
by Lanfranco Vaccari­­

Logic would seem to dictate that manufacturing is cheapest where the labor is cheap. This assumption has held for many years, but now US manufacturers are discovering that, for a number of reasons, products can be made more efficiently at home.

Get used to cheap labor
by Christopher Caldwell

What many refer to as de-globalization is more accurately the next stage of globalization carried to its logical conclusion: labor will either be re-priced so manufacturing can return, or it will continue to flee to cheaper markets.

Coming to grips with the future
by Stefano Cingolani

The Great Recession has forced many adjustments to the global economy. Ironically, when the recovery hits its stride, the greatest beneficiary of the changes will be the place where the crisis originated.

Manufacturing trends
Map by Marie Joveneau
Getting around in a post-global economy
by Andrea Giuricin

The automotive industry in recent years has truly gone global. The railway industry is not far behind. But the greater the technology required – such as with the aircraft industry – the more it is likely that manufacturing will remain in high-tech countries.

At your service
by Hermann Simon, Danilo Zatta

As products become more and more homogenous, service is what will give manufacturing companies a competitive edge. But to improve how a company behaves with its customers, it must instill a service approach in its personnel.

World economy

New visions of capitalism
by Michele Bagella

The near future’s triumvirate of big economies – China, Brazil and the US – each express a different variation of capitalism. Will they be compatible, complementary or in conflict with each other?

Building banks
by Enrico Verga

As the BRICS countries gain more clout in the global economy, a proposed development bank can ensure steady growth. But the disparities among the countries pose many problems.

Cracks in the BRICS
by Maurizio Stefanini

As the developed countries begin to taste the fruits of recovery, it would seem that the BRICS boom is tapering off. The big question is whether other economies will rise up to join the growth club, or if
this slowdown will affect the entire emerging world.

Economic diplomacy

Public support for exports
by Dante Brandi

International trade is a motor of growth. So government support for export credit as part of foreign policy has become a question of efficiency. Credit export agencies can support the activities of trade or foreign policy with a multiplier effect.


Africa extinguishes its wildlife resources
by Anna Bono

For many countries in Africa, tourism is a major industry, linked directly to the wild animal population in the national parks. A combination of poaching and general indifference risks killing off one of the continent’s characteristic treasures.

Warming bloopers

Waiting for 2020
by Carlo Clini

After years of stagnation and then the tsunami, the Japanese finally have something to get enthusiastic about. Their successful bid for the 2020 Olympic Games should pull them out of the doldrums as well as focus attention on the Fukushima cleanup.