Thorbjorn Waagstein

Thorbjorn Waagstein

Thorbjørn Waagstein, Economist, PhD, since 1999 working as international Development Consultant in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

In the UN, Russia has been condemned for its war in Ukraine by an overwhelming majority of nations. Despite this, very few countries outside NATO+ are joining the sanctions against Russia. How come that the Global South is unwilling to support the sanctions? And will it be possible for the US to twist the arms of these unwilling countries to get them to align?

Sunday, 09 October 2022 22:28
Published in Economics and politics

The great decoupling

Whether there will be a technological and trade decoupling between China and NATO+ is not up for discussion any longer – it is already ongoing. What we still don’t know, is how far it will go, and how fast. A vicious political circle may imply that it will go very far, and very fast, at least if the US is to decide. Whether China will be able to prosper despite this technology war, is anybody’s guess. My guess is that it will.

Sunday, 28 August 2022 23:40
Published in Economics and politics

Playing with fire

Many countries build up reserves of gold and foreign exchange to hedge against sudden adverse events. As the currencies such as the US dollar and the Euro are not linked to any physical asset (as e.g., gold), their value is based on trust (called fiat money). However, the increasing politicization of the international financial system is eroding this trust. This may have far-reaching repercussions as some countries are now looking for alternatives.

Thursday, 25 August 2022 21:24
Published in Economics and politics

Can sanctioned countries survive?

It looks as if sanctions haven’t had the expected disastrous consequences for Russia compared to say Iran, Venezuela and Cuba, at least in the short term. But what about the longer perspective? Will the Russian economy implode or stagnate? Or will it be able to survive and perhaps even prosper? History tells us that both scenarios are possible and that the outcome to a high degree depends on how well the situation is managed and the legitimacy of the political leadership.

Friday, 19 August 2022 21:50
Published in Politics

Comical Ali gets the last laugh

For sincere journalists in the West, Ukraine presents a dilemma. There is no doubt where the sympathy lies. The war in Ukraine is seen as the good guys against the bad guys and public opinion is strongly against Russia. What then to do with news putting the good guys in a bad light, for example Ukraine losing in the battlefield, their armed forces bombing a nuclear plant in Russian controlled territory, their use of residential areas for shelling the Russians and so on? Ignore them, deny them or tell the facts as they are?

Sometimes you wish you were wrong. In an article on this website around two months before Russia invaded Ukraine, I predicted that war was the most likely outcome, as US and NATO had clearly stated they didn’t accept Russia’s “red line”: the demand that NATO stop its eastward expansion. I asked whether NATO believed the Russians were bluffing, or whether they had decided to throw Ukraine under the bus. Unfortunately, it seems the decision was to sacrifice Ukraine.

Sunday, 30 January 2022 21:56
Published in Economics and politics

Sanctions are a dead-end

Sanctions are increasingly being used by Western countries. This is so despite that most studies show that they fail to achieve their stated goals, cause enormous human suffering in the targeted countries and create problems for the Western Countries themselves. The wave of refugees from Syria is an example. The sanctions against Afghanistan will no doubt create a new wave. Welcome to Foreign Policy 2.0.

Thursday, 27 January 2022 23:44
Published in Economics and politics

When will the bubble burst?

Crisis in a capitalist economy is often the result of a bubble bursting. The last time a bubble burst was in 2008, in what was called the Global Financial Crisis, when the whole financial system was on the brink of implosion. Despite slow economic growth since, new bubbles have been building up, particularly in the housing and stock markets. When will they burst?

Thursday, 06 January 2022 00:10
Published in Economics and politics

Is inflation really back?

Inflation is suddenly back in the developed countries, a phenomenon many thought was something that belonged to the past. A year ago, most central bank governors assured that this was an expected and transitory phenomenon as the developed economies returned to growth after the Covid induced depression in 2020. Now it looks not to be that transitory. So has inflation come to stay?

Monday, 27 December 2021 23:38
Published in Economics and politics

Has NATO decided to sacrifice Ukraine?

To Russia’s demand for a stop for NATO’s eastward expansion, NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg has answered that Russia has no say in which countries are becoming members of NATO, a viewpoint that has been repeated by the G7 countries, warning that there will be “massive consequences” for Russia if it intervenes in Ukraine. So Russia’s “red lines” have been rejected, well knowing that this may mean military conflict. What is contradictory is that by defending Ukraine’s right to NATO membership, NATO actually risks throwing Ukraine under the bus. So has NATO decided to sacrifice Ukraine? Or are the Russians bluffing and NATO calling the bluff?

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