It has been a very busy week for news, even if it hasn't been busy on the blog. A quick review:
- Protests in Iran: This is what can happen when you insult a large portion of your population with blatant electoral fraud. You might not have thought a couple of weeks ago that Iran was about to provide a lesson in Civil Society 101 for the rest of the world, but this week's protests have been impressive. You need more than a little courage to take to the streets in largely non-violent protests facing riot police, tear gas and gunfire.
(UPDATE: The BBC has some shocking raw footage of just how ugly this thing is getting)
- The white paper on US financial regulatory reform was released this week. I have no intention of actually reading the thing, but Felix Salmon does point to an interesting tidbit: the policy wonks have inserted legislation forcing opt-out, rather than opt-in, retirement plans for corporate employees. This is a nod to the lessons of behavioural economics, which have shown that people will resort to the default, even on important decisions like saving for their retirement. If successful, this legislation will make retirement plans the default option, and Americans are therefore more likely to save. Score one point for the nanny state!
- The BRIC Summit. Brazil, Russia, India and China had their inaugural summit this week, and most reviews suggest it mainly produced rhetoric and little of substance (just for fun, let's compare this to the G8 in early July, shall we?). Some of the rhetoric on the US dollar did seem to have an impact, however. President Hu's 4-point plan was pretty high-level, but certainly hit on the main issues.
It remains to be seen if this summit is a one-off deal or if it will evolve into something with teeth. The first G-somethings were born out of shared economic interest in the 1970s; it's less clear to me that the BRICs have enough similarities (aside from export-led growth) to produce anything more than statements and photo-ops. But I'm holding off judgment for now.