中央銀行の大実験 無制限の現金は問題を解決するのか、引き起こすのか


The Great Central-Banking Experiment: Will Unlimited Cash Solve
Problems or Cause Them?
( TIME )

The Bank of Japan folded as easily as a hot slice of New York pizza.
After a few weeks of pounding by newly installed Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe, the BOJ’s (officially independent) managers capitulated
on Jan. 22 to his demands that the central bank hike its inflation
target to 2% (from 1%) and undertake the necessary monetary easing to
meet that target. That means the BOJ will keep printing cash until
Japanese deflation is reversed. “One can say that it marks a
‘regime change’ in managing macroeconomic policy,” a victorious
Abe declared.

A regime change it is, and it isn’t just taking place in Japan. With
the BOJ’s surrender, all three of the world’s major central banks
have committed themselves to open-ended, cash-pumping programs to
stimulate economies and protect financial stability. The Federal
Reserve has pledged to keep easing until the U.S. job market
improves. And in September, the European Central Bank promised to
purchase unlimited amounts of certain government bonds for any
troubled country that signs up to a reform program -- a move ECB
President Mario Draghi took to help quell the euro zone’s debt
crisis. These moves, of course, are on top of the already generous
policies the three banks have implemented since the 2008 Lehman
Brothers collapse.

Whether these experiments in supereasy money are wise or not, well,
that’s another matter. The classical economist in me immediately
hears sirens go off. Money is like any other commodity -- the more of
it there is, the less it is worth. At some point, the deluge of cash
could create a tsunami of inflation. Prices of assets could get
distorted, blowing up more bubbles that can pop and crash economies.

But then again, perhaps my thinking is stuck in an outdated ideology.
Paul Krugman seems to think so. According to a recent column in the
New York Times, I’m one of the Very Serious People, as he calls us,
trapped in a misguided certitude that has held back smart
policymaking in a new economic world. Krugman specifically was
writing about Japan, an economy he knows well, and he was cheering on
Abe’s heavy-spending approach to the country’s problems. The reason
why Japan has been an economic mess for 20 years, Krugman asserts, is
that the government and the BOJ have never gone far enough in pumping
the economy back to health. Abe’s aggressive policies, Krugman
asserts, will finally turn Japan around -- and, in the process,
rewrite the rules of economic policymaking:

Mr. Abe is breaking with a bad orthodoxy. And if he succeeds,
something remarkable may be about to happen: Japan, which pioneered
the economics of stagnation, may also end up showing the rest of us
the way out.


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問題は古く答えは少なく 安倍首相とオバマ大統領が緊張するアジアの安全保障を議論する

Old Questions and Few Answers As Japan’s Abe and Obama Discuss Asia
Security Tensions
( TIME )

On Shinzo Abe’s first trip to the United States as Japan’s prime
minister, the key issues included the rise of China, North Korea’s
quest for nuclear weapons and whether Japan would revise its
constitution to allow a standing military. The year was 2007, the
U.S. president was George W. Bush and the global economy had yet to
begin its spectacular implosion. Since then Japan has had five prime
ministers, but as Abe, who resumed his country’s top office in
December, visited Washington again Friday, the agenda was remarkably
similar to what he discussed with President Obama’s predecessor six
years ago.

The escalating Sino-Japanese tensions have prompted some concerns
that the Diaoyu dispute could, 100 years after World War I, set off a
similar devastating armed conflict. Certainly some parallels exist
with the great conflagration that tore apart Europe. China, like
Germany before, is a rising economic and military power that craves
greater respect and global influence. It is engaged in disputes with
several of its neighbors over islands that it says are rightly its
territory. Japan’s defense treaty with the U.S. only increases the
risk that a small incident at sea could, like the assassination of a
little-known archiduke in 1914, lead to a broader war.

An all-out conflict would harm both sides, with both China and Japan
-- the world’s second and third largest economies -- suffering
significant economic loses, says Linda Jakobson, East Asia program
director at the Lowy Institute, an Australian think tank. “I fear a
naval or air incident that leads to loss of life, which in today’s
world could not be kept secret, would ignite national sentiments to a
much higher degree than we’ve seen so far,” she says. “That would
really box in the leaders of each side and drastically curtail
maneuvering room.” And while China’s military clout is growing
rapidly -- it’s posted double-digit budget increases for much of the
past two decades and recently launched its first aircraft carrier --
it hasn’t been tested in combat since a short, bloody border war
with Vietnam in 1979. An unsuccessful military campaign could have
serious repercussions for the Communist Party’s hold on power, its
overriding priority.

Meanwhile in the waters northeast of Taiwan the dispute over the
islets continued this week, as a Japanese fishing boat captain said
his ship was pursued by three Chinese maritime surveillance vessels
on Feb. 18, according to reports from Japan’s Asahi Shimbun
newspaper and Tomas Etzler, a Czech television correspondent who was
on the Japanese vessel. On Friday, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary
Yoshihide Suga complained that China’s State Maritime Administration
had installed buoys near the islets, the New York Times reported. War
may still be a distant prospect, but so too is a solution.

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The Scariest Environmental Fact in the World
( TIME )

See this sobering graph from the U.S. Energy Information
Administration (EIA):

As the data show, China is now burning almost as much coal as the
rest of the world -- combined. And despite impressive support from
Beijing for renewable energy and a dawning understanding about the
dangers of air pollution, coal use in China is poised to continue
rising, if slower than it has in recent years. That’s deadly for the
Chinese people -- see the truly horrific air pollution in Beijing
this past month -- and it’s dangerous for the rest of the world.
Coal already accounts for 20% of global greenhouse-gas emissions,
making it one of the biggest causes of man-made climate change.
Combine that with the direct damage that air pollution from coal
combustion does to human health, and there’s a reason why some have
called coal the enemy of the human race.

Of course, there’s a reason why coal is so popular in China and in
much of the rest of the world: it’s very, very cheap. And that’s
why, despite the danger coal poses to health and the environment,
neither China nor many other rapidly growing developing nations are
likely to turn away from it. (If you really want to get scared, see
this report from the International Energy Agency -- hat tip to Ed
Crooks of the Financial Times -- which notes that by 2017, India
could be importing as much coal as China.) That’s likely to remain
the case in poor nations until clean energy can compete with coal on
price -- and that day hasn’t come yet.

The EIA’s chart also shows how limited President Obama’s ability to
deal with climate change really is. The reality is that the vast
majority of the carbon emissions to come will be emitted by
developing nations like China -- and much of that will be due to
coal. As we’ve reported, the U.S. has reduced coal use and cut
carbon emissions in recent years, even in the absence of
comprehensive climate legislation, thanks to tougher air-pollution
regulations and cheap natural gas from fracking. Yet even as coal has
waned in the U.S., it’s still being burned by the gigaton in other
countries. We won’t beat climate change until we’ve beaten coal,
but I’m not sure there’s much the U.S. can do to persuade China or
India to quit cheap energy -- no matter the cost.

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宇宙岩石の嵐 心配はいらない・・・今のところは

The Storm of Space Rocks: Nothing to Worry About -- For Now
( TIME )

Alright people, let’s move on. Nothing to see here. You know that
asteroid of death that whizzed by Earth today at an altitude that’s
actually below some of our satellites? You know that meteor that
exploded in the skies over Russia today, injuring nearly 1,000
people? And you know all that speculation that they’re somehow
connected -- that the Earth has stumbled into some kind of storm-
front of space rocks, any one of which will annihilate us eventually?
Forget it. The two incidents have absolutely nothing to do with each
other, and neither one should cause us all that much worry. Yet.

It’s fair to say that if you live in the city of Chelyabinsk just to
the east of Russia’s Ural mountains, you don’t want to be told
that the blast that shook the region on an otherwise brilliantly
clear day is nothing to worry about. At 9:20 AM local time, what is
thought to have been a 10-ton rock moving 33,000 mph (54,000 k/h)
exploded at an altitude of 18 to 32 miles (30 to 50 km), producing a
several kiloton blast that damaged at least 270 buildings, sent
hundreds of people streaming to hospitals for lacerations from flying
glass and other debris and caused 20,000 emergency response workers
to be mobilized. So that ain’t nothing. And after all the talk about
the planet’s just-passed close shave with a much larger, 70-ton, 150
ft. (45 m) asteroid, it’s no wonder people are skittish.

But as Time reports in this week’s edition (available to subscribers
here), this is nothing new. Earth has always lived in a cosmic
shooting gallery, one that sends about 100 tons of debris plunging
into our atmosphere every day. Most of it is no bigger than a pea and
burns up long before it hits the ground, but we get at least one
basketball-sized object every day too and at least one rock as big as
a small car every few months. Much larger pieces come along less
frequently -- but inevitably.

But even if the Chelyabinsk blast was a routine thing -- as far as
exploding space rocks go, at least -- that doesn’t mean that
asteroid ordnance poses no danger. If 2012 DA14 had plunged through
the atmosphere, it would have produced a 2.4 megaton blast,
equivalent to 180 Hiroshima bombs. Russia already knew a thing or
two about that kind of devastation: in 1908, a 330 ft. (100 m)
asteroid exploded over the Tunguska region in the central part of the
country, producing a 30 megaton blast -- about 1,000 Hiroshimas --
and leveling trees across 830 sq. mi. (2,150 sq. km).

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アルジェリア人質事件 謎めいた武装勢力指導者の意図は何か

Algeria’s Hostage Crisis: What Was Behind a Shadowy Militant
Leader’s Plot?
( TIME )

A day after Algerian forces launched a military raid to end a deadly
hostage crisis at a natural gas plant, confusion reigned on Jan. 18
over the fate of the captives and their Islamist captors. Western
leaders, some of whose citizens were among the hostages, expressed
frustration at having heard little from Algerian officials about the
continuing standoff, and some governments signaled alarm over the
Jan. 17 operation that Algerian authorities admit resulted in the
death of an undisclosed number of hostages. Security officials in
Europe indicate that their services too have not obtained or been
offered much intelligence on the unfolding crisis.

“The lack of information and secrecy doesn’t surprise me at all
when you’re dealing with Algerian authorities used to doing as they
please, according to their own interests and without consulting
anyone,” says a senior French antiterrorism official who spoke on
condition of anonymity. “When it comes to Islamist situations,
they’re particularly rigid in shooting first and asking questions
later. We’ve always considered hostage scenarios a nightmare,
because they trap you between maniac extremist kidnappers and trigger-
happy Algerian security officials. The margin for people coming out
alive in such situations is reduced considerably.”

“As someone who has been hunted by authorities for decades, no one
knows better than Belmokhtar that there’d be no way Algerian
authorities would ever negotiate or let Islamists leave such a
situation alive,” the French official continues. Tying what was
effectively a suicide mission to events in Mali may have been an
attempt to advance Belmokhtar’s own cause in the region’s complex
jihadist milieu. Though Belmokhtar reveres Osama bin Laden and the
al-Qaeda organization with which he fought in Afghanistan, the
Algerian-born radical split with jihadi militias associated with
Africa’s loose regional network al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb
(AQIM) and formed his own battalion late last year. Though he has
directed it in a wide part of the Sahel encompassing northern Mali in
harmony with other extremist networks, experts say Belmokhtar has
increasingly competed with leaders of other militias for influence
and prestige.

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