Loose Ends (187)

I never really gave close attention to when OPEC became OPEC+, and don’t really understand why the + was added. Why not just expand OPEC and be done with it? Is OPEC+ the fossil energy equivalent of LBGTQ++? If the + indicates some indeterminate status for OPEC members, maybe OPEC should change its name to “Organization of Prevaricating Equity Consultants”? That at least would get them welcomed at faculty meetings.

Notice that Brazil’s embattled populist president Jay Bolsonaro ran way ahead of his polls in the first round of elections over the weekend. Funny how these large polling errors keep happening. Funny how they keep happening in the same direction. It’s almost like there’s something happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear. . . Except that it is.

Oh, look out—the United Nations is demanding that central banks cease raising interest rates to fight inflation. Because it will hurt the poor, especially in the developing world:

In its annual report on the global economic outlook, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development said the Fed risks causing significant harm to developing countries if it persists with rapid rate rises. The agency estimated that a percentage point rise in the Fed’s key interest rate lowers economic output in other rich countries by 0.5%, and economic output in poor countries by 0.8% over the subsequent three years.

Incidentally, the UN factotum declaring these portentous tidings is named Rebeca Grynspan. Sounds close enough to “Greenspan.” Anyway—you can guess what comes next:

“There’s still time to step back from the edge of recession,” UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan said. “We have the tools to calm inflation and support all vulnerable groups.”

And what kind of “tools” might those be?

UNCTAD said rather than increase rates, which will do little to ease shortages of energy and food, policy makers should focus on measures that target price spikes directly, including price caps funded by one-off taxes on the unusually large profits being made by many energy companies.

Of course! Price controls and higher taxes! Why didn’t I think of that? This from the self-same people who are actively suppressing fossil fuel development in poor countries, with strong-arm tactics (such as depriving developing nations of financing for natural gas and hydroelectric dams even) that in any other domain would be attacked as “imperialism” and “colonialism.” But when you slap a “green” label on it, it gets a pass.

So now I get it: “Grynspan” is UN-speak for a “tool” of a different kind.

So with a non-trivial prospect of nuclear war and with North Korea lobbing missiles over Japan, what does Vice President Harris think is the most important priority for the region on her latest trip? Gender equity. I wish I was making this up:

At seemingly every turn, the vice president sought to highlight the chasm that exists between genders here [in South Korea and Japan] and provide living proof that a more equitable path exists. . . Beyond the merits, the issue gave Harris an opportunity to burnish her credentials on a subject she has seized on politically at home.

Harris brought up the broader issue of gender inequality in private talks with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, according to a senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to address a delicate conversation.

Strangely, Harris doesn’t seem to have addressed herself to gender equity in our newest ally in the region, North Korea.

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