Situational awareness: The EU has agreed to concessions to stave off a trade war, the WSJ reports, following a meeting between European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and President Trump.
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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
Unforced by coup or war, one developed country after another has chosen an authoritarian style of democracy over the last two years, leaving millions mystified by a political shift very few foresaw.
The trend, supported in elections, has forced conventional leaders to scramble, mostly without effect.
Theatrically outsized personalities give the trend motive power — Russia's Vladimir Putin, the Philippines' Rodrigo Duterte, Hungary's Viktor Orban, Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and of course President Donald Trump. In an era of seemingly uncontrollable forces, these figures lend an air of break-all-the-rules derring-do, at least attempting to set things right.
"Populist authoritarian politicians are successful because they promote themselves as the voice of the people, and hence 'true' democracy, while undermining these checks and balances."— Roberto Stefan Foa, a professor at the University of Melbourne
In a much-read April article in Foreign Affairs, Foa and Harvard's Yascha Mounk correlated the new politics with a shift in global wealth away from the democracies that fought the Cold War against Moscow. Within five years, they forecast, non-democratic nations such as China, Russia and Saudi Arabia will be richer as a group than the Western liberal democracies.
China presents an especially vivid example — a superlatively vibrant economy built within authoritarianism, and proof that, contrary to what the U.S. has argued for decades, you need not be democratic to get rich.
Yuen Yuen Ang, a professor at the University of Michigan, says Beijing's model is widely misunderstood. China is authoritarian, but not purely so. Rather, going back to Deng Xiao Ping, it has blended strong rule with "directed improvisation," she tells Axios.
"China is best understood as an 'autocracy with democratic characteristics.'"— Ang
Go deeper: Read the whole post
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
Trump's broad attack on trading partners appears to be spooking investors overseas, whose net direct investment in the U.S. has fallen substantially since his election in 2016, says a leading economist.
What's going on: Adam Posen, president of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, tells Axios that, despite last year's big Republican tax cut, net foreign direct investment fell to $51.3 billion in the first quarter.
Why it matters: Posen calls this evidence of the start of the "post-American world economy," in which the U.S. becomes excluded by a large amount of foreign trade. He wrote on the thesis Monday in Foreign Affairs.
As an example, Chinese commercial real estate investors have retreated from the U.S. market, selling $1.29 billion in properties in the second quarter while buying only $126 million, the first quarter they have been net sellers since 2008, the WSJ's Esther Fung reported today.
Go deeper: The post-American world economy
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
Future reader Andy Rothman, author of the Sinology blog at Matthews Asia, wrote in to disagree with our report. Chinese leader Xi Jinping is unlikely to weaponize the yuan, he said.
How the Xi-Trump negotiations will unfold, Rothman says:
The math underpinning universal physics (Natalie Walchover - Quanta)
How far Russian hackers got into U.S. utilities (Rebecca Smith - WSJ)
Where robots are resolving the worker shortage (Alison Snyder - Axios)
Don't trust this robot with the soup (Paul Mozur - NYT)
China seeks African faces to sharpen its AI (Amy Hawkins - FP)
The narrative around the future of jobs is that almost any occupation involving a repetitive process — from assembly work to accounting — is vulnerable to automation. According to McKinsey, automation could eliminate up to 800 million jobs around the world by 2030.
Allen Gannett, author of The Creativity Curve, argues that it's more than you think. He says that the skill behind a lot of complex activities, such as painting and sports, can be learned through applied training over long periods. And, when combined with the right timing, that can add up to what humans call creativity.
Everyone thrown out of work in the coming years and decades is not going to find a new job, Gannett says — government will have to step in with a social answer, probably involving the redistribution of income. But, as preparation for the coming jobs crisis, he suggests government policy also get behind teaching the skills of applying creativity to obtain and keep work.