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Almost three years since the financial crisis upended the global economy, it still seems possible that the Great Recession will define this century, just as the Great Depression defined the previous one. For billions of people, it seemed for a long time that there truly was no way out. Day after day, markets plunged and pink slips flooded forth. Across continents, dreams of a secure future and a comfortable retirement evaporated overnight.
Lately, however, hopes for Recovery have replaced the darkest fears of Recession. Paths have begun to appear out of the deep wilderness of despair. So in our Spring issue, we thought it would be a good time to explore some of these paths—the green shoots that could be leading much of the world to a promising future, while at the same time exploring some cautionary tales. How fragile is our recovery? How vulnerable is it to new shocks—and how might those be prevented?
As usual, we open with The Big Question, looking for the most innovative approaches to spurring or sustaining the global economic recovery. The answers—provided by experts from Europe, the United States, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia are surprising and exciting. In a conversation with the editors, Justin Yifu Lin, the first chief [End Page 1] economist of the World Bank to hail from a developing nation, reflects on the lessons of China's success for the rest of the world. In our two regular features, Map Room takes us to Africa, to document the breadth and depth of China's investment juggernaut on the continent, while Anatomy of a Crisis unpacks Ireland's economic meltdown. Looking ahead, Matthew Bishop and Michael Green argue for new ways to measure how rich (or poor) we are. In India, econo-philospher Rajni Bakshi examines the real meaning of recovery, dating back to Gandhi.
With the global economic balance beginning to tilt toward the developing world, it's becoming increasingly clear that at some point, one or more of the old-line money centers of the North—New York, London and Tokyo—might be supplanted by an upstart (or two, or three). Andrew Galbraith in Shanghai, Miriam Elder in Moscow and Jeb Blount in São Paulo examine the pros and cons of their cities—each positioning itself for global financial leadership. Meanwhile, on the other side of the globe, Michael Stutchbury reveals why Australia remains the world's luckiest country, all but avoiding the horrors of the Great Recession. In less-fortunate Spain, Borja Bergareche introduces us to the Ni-Ni Generation—unemployed, uneducated and under pressure.
On other subjects, photojournalist Tim Hetherington, nominated along with Sebastian Junger for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Film for Restrepo, takes us to a remote corner of Afghanistan, deep in the Korengal Valley, for a remarkable portfolio that explores the complex interactions between Afghan villagers and the Americans who came, unbidden, to change their ancestral way of life. In the neighboring "near abroad" of Russia, investigative journalists Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan reveal the reach of Russia's very secret services.
Nicholas Bray observes an ongoing conflict taking place in the eastern Mediterranean, where Cyprus—still divided into two tense halves—struggles to knit itself back together. Clancy Nolan reports from Port-au-Prince, where a rape epidemic has become one of the most troubling aftershocks of the earthquake that stuck Haiti last year. Ashwin Parulkar examines a different kind of dispute over land in Africa, where foreign investors are gobbling up farmland at a staggering pace. Natural resources are also driving a conflict in South America. Emily Schmall reports on Peru's efforts to profit from the Amazon, where determined activists are prepared to risk bloodshed to protect an ecological treasure and indigenous homeland. Finally, World Policy Journal editor David A. Andelman revisits Paris to consider how much—or how little—has changed in France and Europe since the birth of the European Union. [End Page 2]