Economics Made Economical

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Economics is the study of how best to allocate scarce resources in the most efficient manner, i.e. to produce the greatest level of possible benefit to society/humanity at the lowest possible cost. Continue reading


World’s Top 15 Economies: Cuba (Five-Year Update)


Five years ago, Cuba was the Western Hemisphere’s only official remaining dictatorship, where one-party political rule and a closed-market, government-run economy regulated all aspects of the Cuban people’s lives.

In the five years since the first version of this piece was published, the Castro brothers’ near-absolute, 50-year grasp on power has weakened substantially: Fidel Castro has died. And his younger brother, Raul, now aged 86, has announced plans to hand over significant government duties to a younger generation.

In recent years, Cuba’s rapid economic progress has brought the previously isolated pariah state’s removal from such U.S. blacklists as its “State Sponsors of Terrorism” and “rogue regimes” designations. This, in turn, has given Cuba full-fledged membership in the Western Hemisphere’s OAS (Organization of American States). The end result is that–for the first time in the “New World’s” history–each of the Americas’ 35 nation-states now enjoys full diplomatic and economic relations with each of its 34 other neighbors. Sí Se Pudo!

With former Communist nations like the People’s Republic of China, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia having eschewed Communism in all but name only decades ago, and Cuba in the process of doing the same, the world’s only remaining totalitarian Communist dictatorship on this, the verge of year 2018, remains North Korea.

As was predicted five years ago, the gradual trend of Cuba’s thawing relationships with all of its Western neighbors, especially including its business relationships with its wealthiest two American neighbors, the US and Canada, has helped realize Cuba’s full integration into the global economy. Within the last five years, Cuba has drawn in all sorts of businesses investment: from large multinational conglomerates based out of economic powerhouses like Brazil, Mexico, and the U.S.; to small, locally owned Cuban mom & pop shops.

Having been removed from most international economic and political blacklists, especially the regional OAS group, Cuba’s government and civilians have been rewarded with prime financial aid and economic stimulus packages, as well as a fast-blossoming tourism industry.

Cuba’s economic future is bright because it still remains a widely untapped market filled with intelligent, knowledgeable, and motivated citizenry people who are ready to enjoy the fruits of the modern political, financial, technological, and medical worlds that so many of the rest of us have come to take for granted.

Sudan: Is The West Funding Religious Genocide?

Sudan: Is The West Funding Religious Genocide?

A young Christian Sudanese woman, Mariam Yahya Ibrahim, who is married to a dual U.S.-Sudanese citizen, has recently been convicted of apostasy by Sudan’s Islamist government, headed by dictator-president Omar al-Bashir. Al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of ordering genocide against the people of his own country’s Darfur province, has himself refused to stand trial before the ICC in the Hague, Netherlands.

Mariam, who just gave birth to a daughter of her own within the past week, states that she is the daughter of a Sudanese Christian mother and an unknown Muslim father. Although Mariam was raised as a Christian by her mother and has never practiced Islam in any way whatsoever, al-Bashir’s interpretation of Islamic Sharia labels her as a Muslim merely because her unknown father was allegedly a Muslim. Sharia law states that religion passes to a child solely from their father.

Notably, Mariam’s upbringing is not all that different from U.S. president Obama’s, who is the child of a Kenyan Muslim man. One must wonder whether the next time Obama travels to a Sharia nation, such as American “allies” Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, or Afghanistan, he might also be arrested for apostasy since he no longer practices his father’s Islam? Adding insult to injury, the U.S.–the country that Mariam’s husband and daughter are dual citizens of–provides Sudan with 1/3 of its total foreign aid annually:

Over the past five years, the top foreign donors to the Sudan on average have been: the U.S. ($900 million/year), the EU ($250 million), the UK ($245 million), the Netherlands ($130 million), and Japan ($125 million), none of which are religious-based nations, let alone nations with Sharia law criminalizing “apostasy”. Sudan’s total annual foreign aid from all its fellow Arab nations combined accounts for a mere $80 million.

How many times do people like Mariam need to go through this sort of thing before the world wakes up and decides to do something about al-Bashir’s crimes against the Sudanese commonfolk? Does Mariam have to be murdered for her “crime” of “converting” from a religion that she never belonged to in the first place before the Western nations decide to suspend foreign aid to Sudan?

Outrageous! Half of these companies should have gone under, would have gone under if not for taxpayer bailouts.

The Buzz - Investment and Stock Market News

It’s that time of year again. Most of the nation’s big banks have disclosed how much chief executives earned in 2012. While some had their compensation cut, others received hefty raises.

One caveat: Wells Fargo (WFC) CEO John Stumpf, who received $17.6 million in total compensation in 2011, is not on the list. Wells has not yet disclosed Stumpf’s 2012 compensation. Blankfein: $21 million

The CEO of Goldman Sachs (GS), took home a pay package totaling $21 million.

On top of his base salary of $2 million, Goldman Sachs’ board granted Blankfein a nearly $19 million bonus: $13.3 million in stock and $5.6 million in cash.

In 2011, Blankfein received total compensation worth $12 million.

He wasn’t the only one who got a raise last year. The other top four executives at Goldman were paid base salary and bonuses worth a combined $71 million.

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This needs to stop. Israel’s policy has isolated the U.S. globally.

Global Public Square

By Ibrahim Sharqieh, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Ibrahim Sharqieh is deputy director of the Brookings Institution’s Doha Center. The views expressed are the writer’s own.

We are now set for a third term for Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu. And, although Netanyahu’s Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu coalition seems to have underperformed expectations, a plurality of the vote will allow him to once again lead Israel’s government.

But even a somewhat moderated Netanyahu government will continue to advance radical positions that put regional and global security in danger. The question, then, is how the United States can best push another right-wing administration to behave in accordance with the principles of the international security system – and its own national interests.

Over the past two Netanyahu terms, the international community, and the United States in particular, adopted an approach based on accommodation when dealing with the Netanyahu government. The hope was that…

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