The post-crisis numbers are in, and it paid off to be a patriarch. Think back to the height of the panic that was toppling global banks in late 2008, and a story from São Paulo sticks out. With its share price down more than 30 percent, Brazil’s Banco Itaú struck a deal to merge with União de Bancos, its foremost rival. Both banks needed to expand their reach and share costs, but a more fundamental fact made the deal possible. “This only happened because they were controlled by two families,” says Eduardo Gentil, managing partner at the São Paulo office of Cambridge Advisors to Family Enterprise. The families were able to strike the deal quickly and smoothly. And because it was the owners’ own wealth at stake, they could afford to take a longer view, making sure they got the merger right instead of rushing into decisions to please analysts and stock-market investors fixated on the quarterly numbers. And the result? A $260 billion financial institution that has become the largest...
There’s simply too much information in the latest deluge of secret State Department documents made public by WikiLeaks to get a real handle on exactly how the 250,000 classified cables will change the diplomatic landscape in the long term. There are, however, five key questions that we should be asking now.
The sheer volume of the release of the 251,287 diplomatic cables that WikiLeaks plans to make public is unquestionably overwhelming. Against the will of the State Department, WikiLeaks plans to eventually release cables from 274 embassies, consulates, and diplomatic missions around the world from, mostly, the last three years.
The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a 1977 law targeting businesses that bribe foreign officials, spent the early part of this decade in a slumber. In 2000, there wasn’t a single prosecution, and in 2006, the Justice Department won just $18 million in penalties. Now the law has come roaring back to life, with more than $1 billion in fines this year alone. Recent high-profile cases include guilty pleas from fuel-concern Innospec, for paying kickbacks in Iraq to German automaker Daimler AG; and Jack Stanley, the head of energy consultancy KBR, for bribing Nigerian officials to secure billions in natural-gas contracts. With prosecutions likely to continue—the FBI has doubled the number of agents tasked to FCPA cases—business is responding in kind. Law firms are competing for top FCPA talent, banks financing international deals are insisting on anti-bribery stipulations in contracts, and a new cottage industry of experts has emerged, offering country-by-country advice on gifts and local...
Just five years ago, Bangladesh held the unenviable title of being the world’s most corrupt country. Today, it’s a darling of Wall Street. On the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed, who headed the country in the late 1990s and came back to power in January 2009, sat down with NEWSWEEK’s Andrew Bast to discuss economic growth, radicalism, and the power of women. Excerpts:
East Asia may be reveling in its unprecedented economic growth, but old-fashioned territorial feuds continue to fester. The latest reminder came last week at the United Nations, with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao warning darkly of the unnamed “consequences” Japan would incur unless it released the captain of a Chinese fishing boat “immediately and unconditionally.” The skipper and his crew were arrested on Sept. 7 after his vessel collided with two Japanese Coast Guard ships off a disputed and uninhabited island chain.
Is China ready to rule the world? Not quite yet. The fact is that Asia still needs American power. And if our time is indeed witnessing the long handoff of global power from one empire to another, the smoother the transition, the better.
America’s militaristic, idealistic approach to the world is costing the country dearly. That’s the theme of foreign-policy guru Andrew Bacevich’s new book, "Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War." A Boston University professor and West Point grad who spent 23 years in the Army, Bacevich thinks everyone would get along just fine without the U.S. playing global policeman—and what’s more, things would improve at home if we stopped squandering resources abroad.
Groupthink is alive and thriving in Washington, D.C., argues Andrew Bacevich, who's convinced that America's mightily militaristic and endlessly idealistic approach to the rest of the world is costing the country dearly.
One of the more surprising decisions to come out of the international conference held in Kabul last week was to start funneling half of foreign aid directly through the Afghan government, compared with only 20 percent now. Those billions will be an inviting target: Transparency International ranks Afghanistan second worst on its Corruption Perceptions Index.
Gen. Stanley McChrystal's disrespectful comments to a Rolling Stone reporter have dominated the news cycle. But there was another important story about Afghanistan yesterday: a new report about American reliance on a very dangerous liability—Afghan warlords.
Rolling Stone author—and NEWSWEEK alumnus—Michael Hastings explains how he got such good access from General McChrystal's camp, whether he expected such nuclear fallout, and how the grunts grouse about McChrystal's mission.
World leaders have descended on the United Nations in New York to spend the month reviewing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The agenda is long: Iran, disarmament, and new nuclear plants. NEWSWEEK’s Andrew Bast talked to Gareth Evans, former Australian foreign minister and current co-chair of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, about what is becoming a “watershed year” in global nuclear politics.
Richard Clarke explains how cyberspace has made individuals, corporations, and nations vulnerable to a new kind of attack from an elusive and largely misunderstood foe. He discusses the origin of the threat, how it is growing, and what an effective cyberdefense would look like.
Thomas Barfield delivers a one-stop, full accounting of Afghanistan’s geography, people, and history. If it weren’t so painstakingly researched and intensely assembled, it could be called “Afghanistan for Dummies.” He starts in the premodern era and sweeps up through the present day.
The recent renewal of the start treaty between Russia and America was a big victory for Barack Obama's arms-control agenda. The former enemies agreed to slash their warhead arsenals to 1,550 each and also reduce missile launchers and bombers. Seeing as the two nations possess some 95 percent of the world's nukes, the agreement should relax fears about nuclear winter, right? Not quite. Problem is, the real threat these days isn't war between great powers; it's that a terrorist group might get its hands on loose nuclear material and produce a dirty bomb. It's hardly farfetched fearmongering: since 1993, the International Atomic Energy Agency has logged more than 1,500 incidents of trafficked nuclear and radiological materials.That fact hasn't been lost on the White House. A year ago in Prague, Obama vowed to secure all "vulnerable nuclear material within four years." Most proliferation experts say four years is a pipe dream. But timelines aside, what would the U.S. have to do in order...
Listening to President Barack Obama deliver his State of the Union address last night, anyone interested in, say, Afghanistan found themselves waiting through talk of jobs. And waiting through calls for financial reform. And waiting through demands for clean, nuclear energy (really?). Not until more than 50 minutes into the speech did the increasingly perilous war pop up, and with it came a draining of enthusiasm from the packed House chamber.In fact, the president dedicated only 11 minutes of his nearly 69-minute speech to matters of foreign policy. If you want to get technical (which we’ve done), just 1,193 of the 7,309 words he spoke had to do with matters beyond the country's shores. That equals 16 percent. With the help of a great site called wordle.net, which allows you to visualize speeches with a word cloud, here’s what Obama talked about:...
Last spring the threat of swine flu sparked a panic: the World Health Organization declared a pandemic, universities and drug companies kicked into overdrive to develop new vaccines, and governments raced to stop the virus's spread. Meanwhile, another global public-health threat proliferated virtually ignored: dengue fever, a potentially lethal mosquito-borne disease traditionally found mostly in Central America and Southeast Asia. The numbers on dengue's expansion are staggering. While the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control reported that H1N1 had killed 11,749 people as of December 2009, the WHO reports that "explosive outbreaks" of dengue hospitalized half a million people last year. Forty years ago, the disease struck only nine countries; it is now endemic in more than 100. And it's not just a disease of the poor South. Dengue has spread into a large swath of the U.S. (39 states) Although the disease is not widespread in the U.S., one...