Beijing and economic policy: Observers are calling upon the authorities to be more transparent. Photograph: Reuters

China’s policymakers have a stellar reputation for the quality of economic management but the same was true of Japan’s three decades ago. For the Japa(...)

A stock investor checks prices in a brokerage house in Fuyang in central China’s Anhui province: Market turmoil has reduced confidence in the competence of the country’s leadership but its problems are not amenable to any quick technocratic fixes. Photograph: An Ming/EPA

Bull markets, it is said, climb a wall of worry. There are certainly plenty of reasons to worry. But markets are no longer climbing, which indicates t(...)

The rise of “Trumpism” would be a potential cause of geopolitical upheaval and conflict. Photograph: Reuters/Brian Snyder

There is a great deal of ruin in a nation. Thus did the wise Adam Smith rebuke a correspondent’s worry that ruin was bound to follow reversals in the (...)

Costumed activists demonstrate near the Eiffel Tower, in Paris,  during the COP21  United Nations Climate Change Conference. Participating nations agreed to keep global temperature rises below 2 degrees. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Is the Paris agreement a breakthrough in the struggle to limit the risks of climate change, as weary negotiators claim? Or is it just another way stat(...)

The US Federal Reserve is unlikely to deliver desired fiscal cheer by leaving short term rates alone. Photograph: Andrew Kelly/Reuters

The European Central Bank eased monetary policy last week, albeit not enough to please markets. But the US Federal Reserve is widely expected to rais(...)

Members of the South African Municipal Workers’ Union  protest in front of the Nelson Mandela Bridge in Braamfontein, Johannesburg. Pre-tax inequality in South Africa is as high as it was 20 years ago – and it is the world’s highest. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Last week I visited South Africa for the first time in 15 years. In 2000, when euphoria over the transition to democracy gripped the world’s imaginati(...)

Pedestrians are reflected on a share prices board in Tokyo. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

The notion of a “savings glut” helps explain the ultra-low real interest rates we have seen since the global crisis of 2007-09. But the idea of “secul(...)

The change in gross domestic product of crisis-hit countries is now almost universally positive, but GDP remains far below what might have been expected from pre-crisis trends. Photograph: Getty Images

The US and Europe still live with the legacies of the financial crisis of 2007-09 and the subsequent euro-zone crisis. Could better policies have prev(...)

French president Francois Hollande walks on the Solheimajokull glacier, where the ice has receded by more than 1km, during an official visit to Iceland earlier this month. Photograph: Thibault Camus/EPA

Will the intergovernmental climate conference in Paris in December be a decisive turn in the world’s efforts to curb risks of catastrophic climate cha(...)

A man murders his parents and then begs for the mercy of the court as a poor orphan. This is a definition of barefaced cheek. We have a new one. On a (...)