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The $13 Trillion Question

How America Manages Its Debt

edited by David Wessel

The underexamined art and science of managing the federal government's huge debt.

Everyone talks about the size of the U.S. national debt, now at $13 trillion and climbing, but few talk about how the U.S. Treasury does the borrowing—even though it is one of the world's largest borrowers. Everyone from bond traders to the home-buying public is affected by the Treasury's decisions about whether to borrow short or long term and what types of bonds to sell to investors.

What is the best way for the Treasury to finance the government's huge debt? Harvard's Robin Greenwood, Sam Hanson, Joshua Rudolph, and Larry Summers argue that the Treasury could save taxpayers money and help the economy by borrowing more short term and less long term. They also argue that the Treasury and the Federal Reserve made a huge mistake in recent years by rowing in opposite directions: while the Fed was buying long-term bonds to push investors into other assets, the Treasury was doing the opposite—selling investors more long-term bonds.

This book includes responses from a variety of public and private sector experts on how the Treasury does its borrowing, some of whom have criticized the way the Treasury has been managing its borrowing.

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The 1961 Cameroon Plebiscite. Choice or Betrayal

Choice or Betrayal

The United Nations-organised plebiscite on 11 February 1961 was one of the most significant events in the history of the southern and northern parts of the British-administered trust territory in Cameroon. John Percival was sent by the then Colonial Office as part of the team to oversee the process. This book captures the story of the plebiscite in all its dimensions and intricacies and celebrates the author's admiration for things African through a series of reminiscences of what life was like in the 1960s, both for the Africans themselves and for John Percival as a very young man. The complex story is also a series of reflections about the effect of the modern world on Africa. It is a thorough, insightful, rich and enlightening first-hand source on a political landmark that has never been told before in this way. In a vivid style with a great sense of humour, Percival's witty, cogent, eyewitness and active-participant account deconstructs the rumours and misrepresentations about the February 1961 Plebiscite which was a prelude to reunification and to the present day politics of 'belonging' in Cameroon. "One of the major merits of this book is to provide us with a deeper insight into the role of those actors who have never been the subject of plebiscite studies, namely the Plebiscite Supervisory Officers." - Piet Konings, African Studies Centre, Leiden, The Netherlands John Percival-Anthropologist, Writer, Television Broadcaster of many innovative BBC series on the environment, history and anthropology. As a young graduate he was recruited and sent to serve in the Southern Cameroons as a Plesbiscite Supervisory Officer in 1961. He died in 2005 after a recent return visit to Cameroon with Nigel Wenban-Smith who writes an epilogue. This posthumous memoir has been edited by his wife, Lalage Neal.

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The 1970s

A New Global History from Civil Rights to Economic Inequality

Thomas Borstelmann

The 1970s looks at an iconic decade when the cultural left and economic right came to the fore in American society and the world at large. While many have seen the 1970s as simply a period of failures epitomized by Watergate, inflation, the oil crisis, global unrest, and disillusionment with military efforts in Vietnam, Thomas Borstelmann creates a new framework for understanding the period and its legacy. He demonstrates how the 1970s increased social inclusiveness and, at the same time, encouraged commitments to the free market and wariness of government. As a result, American culture and much of the rest of the world became more--and less--equal.

Borstelmann explores how the 1970s forged the contours of contemporary America. Military, political, and economic crises undercut citizens' confidence in government. Free market enthusiasm led to lower taxes, a volunteer army, individual 401(k) retirement plans, free agency in sports, deregulated airlines, and expansions in gambling and pornography. At the same time, the movement for civil rights grew, promoting changes for women, gays, immigrants, and the disabled. And developments were not limited to the United States. Many countries gave up colonial and racial hierarchies to develop a new formal commitment to human rights, while economic deregulation spread to other parts of the world, from Chile and the United Kingdom to China.

Placing a tempestuous political culture within a global perspective, The 1970s shows that the decade wrought irrevocable transformations upon American society and the broader world that continue to resonate today.

Some images inside the book are unavailable due to digital copyright restrictions.

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22 Ideas to Fix the World

Conversations with the World's Foremost Thinkers

Piotr Dutkiewicz

The aftershocks of the 2008 financial crisis still reverberate throughout the globe. Markets are down, unemployment is up, and nations from Greece to Ireland find their very infrastructure on the brink of collapse. There is also a crisis in the management of global affairs, with the institutions of global governance challenged as never before, accompanied by conflicts ranging from Syria, to Iran, to  Mali. Domestically, the bases for democratic legitimacy, social sustainability, and environmental adaptability are also changing. In this unique volume from the World Public Forum Dialogue of Civilizations and the Social Science Research Council, some of the world’s greatest minds—from Nobel Prize winners to long-time activists—explore what the prolonged instability of the so-called Great Recession means for our traditional understanding of how governments can and should function. Through interviews that are sure to spark lively debate, 22 Ideas to Fix the World presents both analysis of past geopolitical events and possible solutions and predictions for the future.
 
The book surveys issues relevant to the U.S., Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Speaking from a variety of perspectives, including economic, social, developmental, and political, the discussions here increase our understanding of what’s wrong with the world and how to get it right. Interviewees explore topics like the Arab Spring, the influence of international financial organizations, the possibilities for the growth of democracy, the acceleration of global warming, and how to develop enforceable standards for market and social regulation. These inspiring exchanges from some of our most sophisticated thinkers on world policy are honest, brief, and easily understood, presenting thought-provoking ideas in a clear and accessible manner that cuts through the academic jargon that too often obscures more than it reveals.  22 Ideas to Fix the World is living history in the finest sense—a lasting chronicle of the state of the global community today. 
 
Interviews with: Zygmunt Bauman, Shimshon Bichler & Jonathan Nitzan, Craig Calhoun, Ha-Joon Chang, Fred Dallmayr, Mike Davis, Bob Deacon, Kemal Dervis, Jiemian Yang, Peter J. Katzenstein, Ivan Krastev, Will Kymlicka, Manuel F. Montes, José Antonio Ocampo, Vladimir Popov, Jospeh Stiglitz, Olzhas Suleimenov, Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Immanuel Wallerstein, Paul Watson, Vladimir Yakunin, Muhammad Yunus

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The 23rd Psalm

A Holocaust Memoir

George Lucius Salton, with Anna Salton Eisen

In September, 1939, George Lucius Salton's boyhood in Tyczyn, Poland, was shattered by escalating violence and terror under German occupation. His father, a lawyer, was forbidden to work, but eleven-year-old George dug potatoes, split wood, and resourcefully helped his family. They suffered hunger and deprivation, a forced march to the Rzeszow ghetto, then eternal separation when fourteen-year-old George and his brother were left behind to labor in work camps while their parents were deported in boxcars to die in Belzec. For the next three years, George slaved and barely survived in ten concentration camps, including Rzeszow, Plaszow, Flossenburg, Colmar, Sachsenhausen, Braunschweig, Ravensbrück, and Wobbelin. Cattle cars filled with skeletal men emptied into a train yard in Colmar, France. George and the other prisoners marched under the whips and fists of SS guards. But here, unlike the taunts and rocks from villagers in Poland and Germany, there was applause. "I could clearly hear the people calling: "Shame! Shame!" . . . Suddenly, I realized that the people of Colmar were applauding us! They were condemning the inhumanity of the Germans!" Of the 500 prisoners of the Nazis who marched through the streets of Colmar in the spring of 1944, just fifty were alive one year later when the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division liberated the Wobbelin concentration camp on the afternoon of May 2, 1945. "I felt something stir deep within my soul. It was my true self, the one who had stayed deep within and had not forgotten how to love and how to cry, the one who had chosen life and was still standing when the last roll call ended."

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24

By John McCullough

For eight seasons between 2001 and 2010, Fox’s 24 garnered critical accolades and became one of the most watched and discussed shows in primetime. In an innovative premise, the show’s hour-long episodes were meant to represent a real-time hour of the story, so that each twenty-four-episode season depicts a single day in the life of its characters. Influential as a popular hit, 24 was also closely linked with the “culture of fear” that dominated the post-9/11 period. In this insightful study, author John McCullough demonstrates that the series was not only unique and trendsetting, but also a complex creative response to its historical context. In three chapters, McCullough looks at 24’s form, style, and overarching themes and meanings. He argues that although the series is driven by the political and cultural shifts brought on by the War on Terror, it is routinely out of step with real history. Using Linda Williams’s distinction between the melodramatic mode and melodrama as a genre, McCullough explores 24’s use of the action-adventure and spy thriller forms with particular attention paid to the series’ hero, Jack Bauer, who is depicted as a tragic hero perpetually in search of a return to innocence. Ultimately, McCullough finds that the series’ distinction lies less in its faithful re-creation of the history of the WOT than in its evocation of the sense of crises and paranoia that defined the period. McCullough also analyzes 24 as a response to television culture in the “post-network” age, characterized by reality TV’s populist appeal and visceral content, on the one hand, and sophisticated boutique cable programming (“quality TV”), on the other. McCullough demonstrates that 24 engaged not only with the most pressing issues of world history and the geopolitics of its time, including terrrorism, neoliberalism, and the state of exception, but, on the strength of its form and style, also represents significant global trends in television culture. Fans of the show and media history scholars will appreciate this thorough study.

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The 2nd ASEAN Reader

Sharon Siddique and Sree Kumar

The Second ASEAN Reader is a sequel to the first ASEAN Reader, published by ISEAS in 1992. Some of the classic readings from the original ASEAN Reader have been incorporated into this new compilation, but the majority of the readings cover the events from to1993–2003. During this decade ASEAN as an organization was revamped, and its membership increased from six to ten. ASEAN has had to carve a niche in the proliferation of regional associations and bilateral relationships which mark the accelerating era of globalization. The economic pivot point for the decade was certainly the 1997 Asian crisis, while the war on terrorism has had a ripple effect on intra-ASEAN co-operation. ASEAN’s resilience and ability to adapt has allowed the organization to navigate on a steady course into the 21st century.

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The 31st Singapore Lecture

Angela Merkel

The Singapore Lecture Series was inaugurated in 1980 by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies with a founding endowment from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), and augmented by generous donation in 1983 from Exxon Mobil Asia Pacific. The Singapore Lecture is designed to provide the opportunity for distinguished statesmen, scholars, and writers and other similarly highly qualified individuals specializing in banking and commerce, international economics and finance and philosophical and world strategic affairs to visit Singapore. The presence of such eminent personalities will allow Singaporeans, especially the younger executive and decision-makers in both the public and private sectors, to have the benefit of exposure to — through the Lecture, televised discussions, and private consultations - leaders of thought and knowledge in various fields, thereby enabling them to widen their experience and perspectives. On 2 June 2011, the 31st Singapore Lecture was delivered by Her Excellency Dr Angela Merkel, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, under the distinguished Chairmanship of Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance and Minister for Manpower, Singapore.

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8 March

Eclipsing May 13

Ooi Kee Beng, Johan Saravanamuttu and Lee Hock Guan

For a whole generation of Malaysians, no proper closure to the traumas of the racial riots of May 13, 1969 has been possible. But then came March 8, 2008 The surprising results of the General Election on that special day have started eclipsing the fears linked for so long to that spectral night forty years ago. All the three researchers from ISEAS who each authored separate chapters for this book were in different parts of Malaysia monitoring its 12th General Election during the thirteen days of campaigning. Their analyses provide new insights into the phenomenon that Malaysians now simply refer to as “March 8”. Ooi Kee Beng scrutinizes in detail the electoral campaign in the state of Penang, Johan Saravanamuttu studies the case of Kelantan state and the elections in general, while Lee Hock Guan examines changes in the voting pattern in the Klang Valley.

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The 9/11 Terror Cases

Constitutional Challenges in the War against Al Qaeda

Examines the four decisions of the Supreme Court from 2004 – 2008 on the Bush Administration’s policies for Guantanamo detainees, and the response of Congress to those rulings, with emphasis on the separation of powers enshrined in the United States Constitution.

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