Bloomberg (Continuación)

A farmworker plants hybrid cucumber seeds in between capsicum saplings at a farm that supplies to Bharti Walmart Pvt. in Malerkotla, Punjab, India, on Monday, Dec. 5, 2011. Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s joint venture with Bharti Enterprises has 14 "Best Price" wholesale outlets and buys from about 2,000 farmers in Punjab and Haryana. Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg

All of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s grand plans to transform India could be undone by a single, impressively titled law: the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. Though proposed by the previous, Congress-led government, the act was supported by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, then in opposition, as a sop to Indian farmers. Now its provisions threaten to stymie any projects that require new land on which to build (which in India, means almost all of them). Among other things, the law demands that buyers pay four times the market price for agricultural land, resettle those displaced and undertake a social- and environmental-impact study before starting any construction.…  Seguir leyendo »

Catalonia's determination to go ahead with a symbolic vote on independence from Spain on Sunday -- despite being banned by the nation's constitutional court -- now has an additional layer of legitimacy. Spain's ruling People's Party, which scuppered the Catalan version of "devo-max" four years ago, has turned out to be so sickeningly corrupt that it has no right to tell anyone what to do.

The legal arguments for and against Catalan independence can be kicked around endlessly. They are part of the dead-end debate about two mutually contradictory principles embedded in the United Nations Charter: territorial integrity and self-determination. Legal opinions on cases of unilateral secession -- Kosovo, Transnistria, Somaliland, the "assisted secession" of Crimea -- stress that international law calls for self-determination within the framework of existing states, except in cases when a "people" (whatever that may be) suffers from major rights violations inflicted by the state.…  Seguir leyendo »

Perhaps the most intriguing question about the "Google tax" introduced in Spain is whether there is a workable way to limit or tax the spread of information on the Internet. I suspect there isn't, and Spaniards are about to find that out the hard way, as some Germans and Belgians did before them.

According to Spain's new copyright law, services that post links to news articles or excerpts from them will have to pay a fee to the Association of Editors of Spanish Dailies, a group that represents the country's news industry, or face a 600,000-euro ($751,000) fine. Previous experience shows the law will probably be short-lived because the newspapers demanding the change will hate it when Google applies it.…  Seguir leyendo »

Who says you can't have it all? Photographer: Dado Galdieri/Bloomberg

The fight to develop renewable energy is a battle of good against evil, and the future of humanity hangs in the balance.

No, I’m not talking about climate change (though that is certainly important). I’m talking about the distribution of wealth and power across the whole planet. The question of who will reap the benefits of future growth hinges on whether we discover new, better sources of energy.

The story of our species goes like this. For thousands of years, humanity’s energy budget was basically fixed -- we got energy from our own bodies, from animals and from wood. All of those came from land -- whoever had the land controlled the energy.…  Seguir leyendo »

Kailash Satyarthi, the co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is 60. For three decades, he has been a crusader against child labor in India. His co-winner is Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who in 2012 was shot by the Taliban when she was 14.

I raise this because in India, 14 is the minimum age for children to be employed in defined “hazardous” occupations, including work in factories and in people’s homes. The constitutional guarantee on compulsory and free education follows a similar logic -- all children up to 14 are entitled to an education, which means they have to stay in school through eighth grade.…  Seguir leyendo »

Are we all quite mad here in the developed world?

A petition to save Excalibur, the pet dog of a Spanish nursing assistant who has contracted Ebola, received more than 370,000 signatures before the animal was sedated and killed as a precautionary measure this evening. As his corpse was taken away in a van for incineration, a crowd of activists who had clashed with police during the day were reportedly shouting: "murderers!"

I don't remember people clashing with police to persuade their governments to do more to help stop the spread of Ebola in Africa, where more than 3,400 human beings have died from the disease.…  Seguir leyendo »

The downward revision of growth projections for emerging economies by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank is yet another reminder of how quickly the narrative has changed for these countries. This reversal has led to selloffs in emerging-market assets, be they equities, currencies or fixed-income. Countries that not so long ago were deemed an influential locomotive for global growth (as well as a contributor to global financial stability) are now viewed more as a source of actual and potential disruptions.

Yet things may not be as bad as all that; they certainly don't have to be if emerging economies adjust their growth models appropriately.…  Seguir leyendo »

Will the tensions in Hong Kong be the straw that breaks the global economy’s back? That question is on many investors’ minds as they watch the Chinese government's response to one of the biggest sociopolitical challenges it has faced in recent years. The answer is far from straightforward.

It is already a tentative time for the world economy. Growth is faltering in Europe and Japan. The U.S. economy, while doing better, has yet to lift off. Emerging economies have slowed, and are unlikely to return to higher growth anytime soon. Meanwhile, pockets of excessive risk-taking have multiplied in financial markets, adding to concerns about future volatility.…  Seguir leyendo »

Abba Eban, Israel’s legendary representative to the United Nations, once famously remarked that “the Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas proved Eban’s point Friday, in an incendiary speech to the UN General Assembly in which he accused Israel of “a new war of genocide” against the Palestinian people.

Another opportunity squandered. During the Gaza War this summer, Abbas had positioned himself as a picture of moderation. When Hamas was accused of having kidnapped the three teenagers whose abduction set off this summer’s violence, Abbas condemned the kidnapping in no uncertain terms. As the war with Hamas dragged on, the Palestinian Authority was party to the cease-fire negotiations.…  Seguir leyendo »

A hard-hitting column this week in Haaretz by Amira Hass posed a series of questions to Hamas leaders that cut right to the heart of the strategy and raison d’etre of the Palestinian group. Hass’s intimate knowledge of Gaza adds force to her questions, especially when she asks Hamas leaders how they feel about the lack of any quantifiable gains from the last war with Israel, other than a sharp and probably temporary rise in the group’s own popularity.

Hass notes that despite the supposed “victory” over Israel, Jewish settlements continue to expand, Palestinian economic gaps are worsening and Gaza remains isolated from the West Bank.…  Seguir leyendo »

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is entangled in three critical but faltering relationships with Hamas, the U.S. and Israel. How he reconciles them will determine whether Israelis and Palestinians resume talking or fighting in the months ahead.

On Tuesday, Abbas announced that he was disillusioned by more than two decades of failed mediation by the U.S. and would instead seek Palestinian statehood at the United Nations Security Council. If he doesn’t win a commitment from the Security Council to end the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem within three years, he plans to bring Palestinian grievances to the International Criminal Court and other global institutions.…  Seguir leyendo »

Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri said this week he was opening a branch of the terror outfit focused on India, and in one sense that’s nothing new. The Egyptian doctor has dreamed for years of sparking a war between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan, a conflict he thinks would drive Pakistanis into the arms of radical Islam and rally Muslims around the world to al-Qaeda’s banner.

Osama bin Laden, Zawahiri’s former boss, preferred to keep the organization’s focus on the U.S. “Great Satan.” If Zawahiri is to be believed, he started putting together his new India affiliate a little more than a year after bin Laden’s death.…  Seguir leyendo »

Active warfare in Gaza between Hamas-led Palestinian groups and the Israeli armed forces may have ended for now. But the conflict continues in the arena of public opinion and mutual perceptions. Or perhaps misperceptions would be more accurate, to judge by two contradictory bits of news this week.

At a news briefing, a senior Israeli military intelligence official provided figures to show that Hamas and Islamic Jihad had “suffered a huge, even dramatic hit” to their military capabilities. Yet almost simultaneously, a public opinion poll in the West Bank and Gaza revealed that Hamas’s popularity among Palestinians had risen sharply. If new Palestinian elections were held today, Hamas would win easily.…  Seguir leyendo »

At first glance, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and its central banker Raghuram Rajan make for unlikely bedfellows. Modi is a homegrown politician from a working-class background, a card-carrying member of the Hindu Right who mostly speaks in Hindi. Rajan is a U.S.-educated economist, a liberal whose family was a part of India’s civil service elite. He's spent most of his working life abroad and speaks only a smattering of Hindi.

Yet their fates are now linked. This week both men reached symbolically important milestones: Modi has passed 100 days in office, while Rajan has finished his first year as governor of the Reserve Bank of India.…  Seguir leyendo »

There was no shortage of potential headlines for Israel's Sept. 1 papers. The government had announced what the international press dubbed a “land grab” in the West Bank, and the Obama administration was very unhappy. Israeli Defense Forces soldiers, stationed in Gaza-adjacent communities to reassure still-nervous residents, were suddenly withdrawn. Residents were furious, and felt betrayed, again.

But the lead headline, as it is on every Sept. 1, was that schools had reopened. Makor Rishon, in print, like YNet, online, reported the number; 2,105,394 students were heading to class. Several papers, including Times of Israel, discussed the challenge facing teachers: Students essentially had no vacation, and many had literally spent the entire summer running in and out of bomb shelters.…  Seguir leyendo »

Most Israeli analyses I have read and heard since the Gaza ceasefire took hold last week (including this one by my Bloomberg View colleague Daniel Gordis) reflect a mood of concern and despondency. Israelis worry that their proven military might has not been able to make them safe. They warn that in Gaza, Lebanon, Sinai and Syria, Islamist militants now surround their vulnerable nation. And they acknowledge that in the last five wars with Hamas and Hezbollah, Israel has not been able to subdue, eradicate or disarm its foes.

My visit to Jordan this week has convinced me that Israelis shouldn’t worry so much about their military capabilities, because their technological prowess and advantages remain significant.…  Seguir leyendo »

Spain's 50-Year Bond Opportunism

In the crazy world of government bonds, some nations are getting paid for the privilege of borrowing money, while others are experiencing schizophrenia as yield behavior bears no relationship to the strength of their economies. Somewhere in this mixed-up mess, investors just made a trade that sums up what happens when central banks eliminate the price-discovery function markets are supposed to serve.

Spain announced today that it has borrowed 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) in the bond market, money that it won't have to repay for half a century and for which it is paying an interest rate of just 4 percent.…  Seguir leyendo »

The cease-fire is holding. The sirens have stopped, the bomb shelters are being closed, most of the reservists have returned home. This weekend, for the first time in months, Israelis (like Gazans) will finally be able to exhale.

But the press, quite rightly, is reminding Israelis that peace is almost certainly not at hand. “Gaza war? Merely a blip on the Mideast radar,” Haaretz’s headline read this morning.

The two sides have battered each other into a stalemate. Both accepted terms their leaders insisted they would never abide. Civilians on both sides have suffered, both have buried loved ones. Both are exhausted, utterly spent.…  Seguir leyendo »

On the Arab side, the true winners and losers from the seven-week Gaza war will only become clear in the coming weeks, as the conditions of the cease-fire play out. The current sense of jubilation among Palestinians reflects sheer relief. The fighting is over. Palestinians stood their ground, did not surrender to Israel’s intense attacks, and forced its leaders to accept a cease-fire. Hamas and other resistance groups maintained their arms and some of their facilities. Israel's blockade of the territory is being lifted gradually. Fishermen now have deeper access to the sea, and large-scale reconstruction looks likely to start quickly.…  Seguir leyendo »

Some years ago, soon after Israel’s disengagement from Gaza in 2005 and shortly after the renewal of the Gaza “troubles” (to borrow phrase from the Irish), my wife and I visited friends in the small, Gaza-adjacent town of Shaar Hanegev. We were sitting in the dining room, eating dinner, when the table shook, ever so slightly. Once, and then again. It felt like the mini-tremblers we had gotten used to in Los Angeles, only these were accompanied by a faint but clearly audible “boom.”

“What was that?” I asked, naively. “Tank fire,” our hostess replied matter-of-factly, with a “what in the world did you think it was?”…  Seguir leyendo »