Posted by Rick Stine
on February 17, 2010
On the long drive back from Quebec on Tuesday (after a little cross-country skiing trip northwest of Montreal), we were listening to the radio (in French) to get a sense what’s on the minds of the Quebecois. Two main topics of discussion, over and over again. The first was on the Olympics and a general complaint that the games were being broadcast in Quebec in English and not in French. The radio folk weren’t implying the games should be broadcast just in French. But that there should be some French spoken. It’s an interesting point, and a unique one – there aren’t too many countries where two languages are the official languages of different regions. That’s borne out by visiting some small Quebec towns and villages where no English is spoken. Period. I tend to agree with the Quebecois – French should have been spoken since the French population is a significant one in Canada.
The second topic was on business and more specifically, asking if there was a housing bubble in Montreal and Toronto.
Posted by Gabriella Stern
on February 17, 2010
To understand why Indonesia is moving forward and Malaysia isn’t, consider this horrifying story, “Malaysia Court Canes Three Women.”
The recent canings of four Muslim men and, for the first time, three Muslim woman, for having sex out of wedlock come after last year’s caning verdict – still not carried out – against a 32-year-old Muslim woman caught drinking beer in a hotel bar.
The only conclusion one can reach is that radical Islam’s influence is growing in this lush southeast Asian country of rich natural resources. Will Malaysia’s forward-thinking Muslims, and its ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities, permit this drift to continue? Have a look at colleague James Hookway’s piece, in which he notes that the main moderate Muslim opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, is on trial for alleged sodomy – “a charge that he denies and that he says was fabricated to destroy his political career.”
Meanwhile, Indonesia, with its own Muslim majority, is enjoying robust economic growth and there are signs it’s becoming easier to do business there. Just this week, an Indonesian court issued a ruling that in effect will let France’s Carrefour keep a majority stake in a local retailer. As colleagues Edhi Pranasidhi and Reuben Carder write, “the decision will give a filip to Carrefour’s aim of competing for market share in Indonesia” as incomes and consumption rise. This is Indonesia’s moment, as I’ve written before.
A veteran U.S. central banker has bravely presented us with his own inconvenient truth. It takes an optimist to believe the political will exists in the U.S. to see through his preferred remedy.
In a speech text Tuesday discussing the long-term threat of huge fiscal budget deficits to the U.S. economy and to the independence of the U.S. central bank, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City President Thomas M. Hoenig said the following:
“There is no way to avoid some short-term pain in fixing the fundamentals in our economy. It is inconvenient for the election cycle, and it is undeniably terrible to have at least 10% of the labor force out of work. But short cuts now mean people out of work again in only a few years because we again try and avoid difficult adjustments.”