Daniel Altman

The Dark Side of Dilma

Why Brazil's election result is nothing but trouble.

Close elections in corrupt countries stink. Sure, it's great to see a peaceful transfer of power, especially when the numbers are on a knife-edge. But the result that Brazil has just produced in its presidential election -- 51.4 percent for Dilma Rousseff to 48.5 percent for Aécio Neves -- is about as destructive as can be.

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The Canary in China's Central Bank

Is Beijing's Ben Bernanke on his way out?

How quickly will China follow through on the ambitious package of economic reforms its government adopted last November? With quarterly growth in the country's output at a five-year low, at least according to official statistics, it's the trillion-dollar question. That's how much economic activity might be unleashed by breaking open state-dominated industries and taking the brakes off capital markets. And the first part of the answer may come down to a choice between two men.

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When the Petrodollars Run Out

Oil and gas prices are falling through the floor. And some countries are woefully unprepared for the drop.

It's good to be Vladimir Putin these days. The Russian president can jerk most European countries around without fearing the consequences, thanks to their dependence on his natural gas. Meanwhile, Putin's customers are probably dreaming of the day when they can tell him to piss off. But when they can finally live independently of his resources, international influence won't be the only thing that crumbles for Russia and other petrostates.

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Is Syria a Pay-to-Play Conflict?

A quick look at whether defense money played a role in Congress authorizing Obama's war in Iraq and Syria.

Just a few months ago, hardly anyone was clamoring for American involvement in Syria. The drumbeat of casualties in the country's civil war had become monotonous, and any intervention was likely to have a strategic rather than a humanitarian rationale. Yet engaging in the conflict will be a huge boon for one group: the American arms industry.

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What Economists Don't Understand About Scots

Everyone from Paul Krugman to Joseph Stiglitz is weighing in on Scotland’s risky bet. But they don’t get the feeling of yes.

Should Scotland vote to leave the United Kingdom and become an independent nation? Economists think they know the answer. But why should anyone in Scotland listen to them?

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