L'EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) a financé un programme, Energy Star, qui a rassemblé un groupe de responsables d'entreprises (parmi lesquelles General Motors, Shell, Dow Chemical, Toyota) afin, au cours de deux séminaires, d'imaginer l'avenir du contexte énergétique américain à l'horizon 2020. Ce groupe, grâce à la méthodologie et à l'encadrement du GBN, a développé quatre scénarios. En faisant la liste des incertitudes qui pesaient sur cet avenir, le groupe en a retenu deux principales ...
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Ce rapport a été rédigé avec l'aide de 11 officiers supérieurs de la marine américaine pour tenter d'évaluer les menaces que le changement climatique fait peser sur la sécurité des États-Unis. Il est intéressant de noter qu'il est loin d'être le premier à traiter de ce sujet aux États-Unis et en Grande-Bretagne, alors que la question semble toujours paraître peu sérieuse pour les milieux français de la défense. Espérons qu'elle sera abordée par la Commission ...
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« Cet ouvrage s’efforce d’aider les lecteurs à comprendre comment notre monde est transformé par l’essor de l’Inde et de la Chine — des pays dont l’impact potentiel sur les prochaines décennies est à la fois redouté et sous-estimé. » L’auteur, Robyn Meredith, est une journaliste américaine, correspondante de Forbes, spécialiste de l’Inde (l’éléphant) et de la Chine (le dragon). La croissance des deux géants asiatiques a d’ores et déjà permis à des millions ...
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The American trade deficit reached 6% of the country's GDP in 2005, and it is likely to be close to 7% in 2006. Moreover, the rise in the price of oil, on which America is especially dependant, threatens to make this situation even worse. In addition, the budget deficit has also reached record levels and, according to many American analysts, it may well continue to grow at least until 2009. But as long as Americans are reluctant to save, the U.S. debt will be financed by foreign capital.
By contrast, China is managing to combine rapid economic growth with stable public finances: China runs a balance of payments surplus alongside a tiny budget deficit (1.5% in 2005). It uses its trade surpluses to build up dollar reserves and is becoming a major creditor of the United States.
In this article Philippe Delalande offers a comparison between the contrasting - yet increasingly interdependent - financial positions of these two major economies. He explains that the dual U.S. deficits (trade and budget) can be maintained because of the special status of the dollar abroad. Confidence in the dollar and in the American economy does not falter and the United States becomes ever more dependant on foreign capital, whereas the Chinese authorities have adopted the opposite policy, strictly regulating foreign investment in China and maintaining their currency, the yuan, undervalued vis-à-vis the dollar but tied to it.
The author explains that this is because the two countries' financial positions are more and more closely linked as a result of this situation and the increasing trade between them.
With a growth rate in 2005 of 3.5%, the United States retains its global economic dominance. Yet the downsides of this economic vitality are increasingly obvious.
Since the mid 1990s the U.S. trade balance has been in deficit every year because its economic growth is fuelled more by imports than exports. The deficit currently runs to more than $2 billion per day on average. America is particularly dependant on imported cars, oil and consumer goods. The trade deficit is greatest with China, Canada and Mexico.
Charles du Granrut explains in this article that the key to understanding how the U.S. has managed to finance its growth and its trade deficit for as long as it has lies in its financial relationships with the rest of the world.
The author discusses the mechanisms that brought about the trade deficit and that can explain why it continues, despite the fall in value of the dollar and the risks that could arise from it. He goes on to present several scenarios for 2025 and the risks involved if the debt were to become unsustainable. The conclusion is that the present situation of the U.S. is both difficult to maintain in the medium term and yet useful in stimulating growth throughout the world and in redistributing global savings.
Every year, the American magazine Fortune publishes a list of the 500 leading firms in the United States based on their figures for turnover and profits. Michel Drancourt looks at the list published in April 2006 and analyses how the ranking has changed over recent years. In particular he draws attention to the major growth in the activities of American companies (reflected in a rise in profits once again of almost 15% in 2005) and the considerable changes among the leading firms (in the main, the most successful sectors are oil, insurance, pharmaceuticals and banking).
He also stresses some important shifts among the large American enterprises (in terms of newcomers, mergers, revivals, declines, etc.). Lastly, he draws some conclusions about the future of various major groups such as IBM, Exxon, Hewlett-Packard, etc., and emphasizes the key role of certain top executives.
According to many commentators, the nuclear co-operation agreement signed by the United States and India on 2 March 2006 sounds the death knell for the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. India, which never signed the treaty, will benefit from technology transfers from the United States for its civilian nuclear programme, but it can also pursue its military programme free from any international control.
As this article stresses, this is a striking example of double standards, when one thinks of Israel or Iran (among others), and one that could furthermore destabilize the whole of Asia, given that Pakistan and China both have nuclear weapons. After recalling the sequence of events since the end of the Cold War with regard to disarmament and efforts to limit nuclear proliferation, the author shows how hypocrisy and cynicism prevail among the members of the nuclear club, and how difficult it could become to ensure stability and peace among nations, given this situation.
The text is an extract from a book entitled Les Scientifiques (The Scientists) that is almost ready for the press and that should appear before the end of the year. The author, Jean-Jacques Salomon, gives a foretaste to readers of Futuribles.
La publication de la Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) est considérée par les spécialistes des questions internationales et de sécurité et défense comme un " temps fort " de la pensée stratégique américaine. Ce document synthétique est censé encadrer líaction du Department of Defense (DoD), et en particulier sa gestion des hommes et des matériels, sa planification des programmes díarmement prioritaires et sa programmation budgétaire pour les quatre années suivantes. La publication de la QDR 2006 était très attendue pour plusieurs raisons : - il ...
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The victims of economic globalization are not confined to France: certain American firms, too, are suffering from global competition, having failed to find ways of adapting in order to survive. Among them, General Motors, a symbol of American manufacturing for almost a century, is currently going through a critical period. After being a world leader in vehicle manufacturing for decades, the company is having to cope with social costs that it cannot meet as well as a sharp fall in domestic demand for its products (which used to be its main source of earnings), the end of low oil prices, while at the same time it has not made adequate investments in research and innovation such as have allowed a rival like Toyota to gain a comfortable foothold in the sector.
This is a major challenge, as Michel Drancourt shows in this article, presenting the history of the firm and the various problems it must resolve. And if there is to be a favourable outcome, he argues, it can come only if General Motors is prepared to take real risks - for example, by investing heavily in innovation to prepare for the time when the oil has run out or radically changing its approach to the international market for vehicles.
This article was originally published in Futuribles in 1988. The author then issued a warning to readers about the serious risks connected with the ageing of the population of the United States. Mahoney emphasizes in particular the problems of financing health care expenditures that might arise, which might lead later to rationing care and raise the question of the right to life of very old sick people. He also stresses the possibility of serious intergenerational conflicts in the event that public spending were to become too heavily biased towards funding pensions and the health care needs of the elderly at the expense of the working population and their children. In this regard, the ability of elderly people to organize pressure groups and their greater propensity to vote relative to younger age-groups means that politicians tend to court them and listen closely to their demands; as their numbers rise, the imbalance favouring them at the expense of young people might increase significantly, according to Thomas Mahoney.
The article remains as interesting now as in 1988, to judge from the pattern of demographic change in the United States and its likely consequences (see also the article by Charles du Granrut on "Crunch time for the pension system in the United States?" in this issue, p. 21). It remains just as relevant, too, for the other industrialized countries experiencing an ageing population, in particular France and the "old" countries of Europe.
People often - in France, in particular - contrast the way the pensions systems work in Europe with the system in the United States, the former being labelled broadly "state-run", whereas the latter is based exclusively on capitalization. Yet the reality is far more complex than it appears, as Charles du Granrut argues here: the American system does not rely entirely on capitalization and pension funds; public authorities also play an important role.
Charles du Granrut first outlines the main features of the American pension arrangements (social security, private systems, capitalization...) and how they contribute to the income of retired Americans. He goes on to analyse the main trends highlighted in various recent reports. As he emphasizes, the ageing of the population will undoubtedly have a major impact on the state pension system as the reserves seem to be condemned to run out if the way the system works is not reformed. And the supplementary pension schemes, as they stand, are far from being able to make up for the shortfall in the reserves of the state system, largely because the pension funds have been underfunded and American households save too little.
Like Europe, the United States is therefore at risk of encountering major problems with regard to financing pensions in the coming decades, with potentially serious consequences for intergenerational fairness and for the standard of living of the elderly. But perhaps America will be able to cope more easily, thanks to the flexibility created by the fragmented nature of the system
With the end of the Cold War, many hoped that there would gradually be less cause to resort to war; 15 years later, this has clearly not happened. Violence persists in various forms: civil wars, ethnic cleansing, genocide, terrorism, etc. What should the response be, especially on the part of a democratic country? Can violence be used against violence and, if so, according to what "rules"? Are there circumstances when intervention is more permissible than others?
These are some of the issues discussed here by Jean-Jacques Salomon, in reviewing a multi-author study edited by Pierre Hassner and Gilles Andréani (Justifier la guerre? De l'humanitaire au contre-terrorisme [Justifiable War? From Humanitarian Aid to Counter-terrorism]. Paris: Presses de Sciences Po, 2005), as well as several other books about ethical questions in international relations. In this debate, the sharp contrast between the European and American attitudes obviously take centre-stage, along with the problem of the United States' readiness to act unilaterally, combined with its refusal to submit to international law with regard to waging war and respecting prisoners' rights.
Inventeur du concept d’« hyperterrorisme » pour expliquer la nouvelle guerre de l’après-11 septembre, François Heisbourg s’interroge dans son dernier ouvrage sur le déclin de l’Occident en tant qu’entité stratégique. Devant l’auditoire, il a, dans un premier temps, brossé les tendances lourdes et les caractéristiques de l’après-guerre froide.
This article presents the uchronia imagined by Philip Roth in his recent novel, The Plot against America (London: Jonathan Cape, 2004, 391 pp), a look back at the years 1940-1942 in the United States, drawing on a mixture of his own experience and various real events of the time. What would have happened if Charles Lindbergh had run for President in 1940 and had won against Roosevelt? Would the United States have played the same role in the Second World War?
Almost four years after 9/11, America is still traumatized and many are haunted by the fear of further terrorist attacks. In order to cope with this concern with security the United States administration has created a ministry unlike any other in the world - the Department for Homeland Security - which pursues a very strict policy of internal security, mainly geared to keeping most of the American population in a state of heightened alert.
Benjamin Friedman offers here a highly critical assessment of this policy, arguing that the country's leaders have developed a state of generalized fear that plays into the hands of the terrorists while giving Americans an illusion of safety. In his view, the homeland security policy is too ambitious, exaggerates some threats and encourages unnecessary fearfulness by asking people to prepare for a terrorist attack when in fact they run little risk of being victims. To this end, vast sums are spent ill-advisedly, indirectly preventing the funding of measures which would be far more worthwhile, including for American domestic security.
He ends the article by advising that it is essential to shake off this paranoia. The terrorist threat does exist but it is limited geographically and would probably be better prevented if this fact were taken into account. What is needed, therefore, is to introduce greater realism into the homeland security policy and accept that, come what may, there is no such thing as zero risk, now or probably ever.
For several years now, the question of state reform has frequently been under discussion in France, where no government of any political party has been able to make real progress in this regard, as the mounting public deficit shows. Yet the topic is also in the news in countries that some commentators hold up as models, such as the United States.
As Thierry Vircoulon argues here, from a reading of two books on ways of reforming the US Federal administration recently published on the other side of the Atlantic (Urgent Business for America: Revitalizing the Federal Government for the 21st Century. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 2003, and High-Performance Government. Structure, Leadership, Incentives. Santa Monica: Rand Corporation, 2005), the problem of how to reorganize what the Federal administration does, and how the many public agencies deliver their services, has been under examination for some years now in the US. The debate about methods of public management, finding ways of improving performance using criteria normally applied in the private sector, benchmarking, etc., is sometimes very similar to the discussion of these subjects in France. It has been given a further boost since 9/11 since the concern with security implies certain changes and a renewed reliance on the state.