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27 years of change, part I 

I’ve alluded to my new venture before on Davos Newbies. All will be revealed in due course, but the equally big news for me personally is that after 27 years in Europe, I’ll be moving to the United States this summer.

Lots of people I know say to me, “What’s it like to be going back?” The odd thing is that after all this time, I don’t really think of it as going back. It’s moving, certainly. But there’s no “back” about it.

Many of the same people also offer an exclamation of one kind or another about my moving to Bush’s America. I have several responses to this. First, we all live in Bush’s world, so separating yourself from the US geographically doesn’t make much difference. Second, I’m moving to Berkeley, which is about as far as you can get from a Bush worldview and remain on the planet.

We have a beautiful house organised (when we make the move, I’ll spell that organized) in the Elmwood neighbourhood (neighborhood) of Berkeley. We’ve found a great school for the boys. And of course I have an exciting new business to create.

Reading The New York Review of Books on the plane the other day, I thought of a series that I’m going to initiate here on Davos Newbies: 27 years (or thereabouts) of change. Paul Krugman in the March 10 issue of NYRB has a revealing statistic:

  In 1980, private health spending [in the US] was 5 percent of GDP, and government health spending was 3.8 percent. By 2003 the numbers were 8.3 and 7.0, respectively.

There are more dramatic shifts over 27 years, but since that was the statistic that set me thinking about changes in my native country over the years, it’s an appropriate place to start.

A different take on Wolfowitz 

Adam Posen from the Institute for International Economics has an optimistic view on Wolfowitz at the World Bank (subscribers only in the Financial Times). I don’t think his tongue was in his cheek:

  Cheap comparisons to Robert McNamara’s move from a US defence role to the bank aside, the Wolfowitz nomination has the potential to take us back to the early 1960s in two positive ways: first, the US would perhaps be substituting economic largesse for military action in at least some of its security pursuits; and second, the US would view economic development as a foreign policy problem and priority. Anyone for a “war on poverty”?

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