100 in 100: How majoritarian vs. proportional democracies tackle polarization…

By Roger Scher

Plurality/Majority (Majoritarian) vs. Proportional Representation, or Mixed electoral systems. Source: International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, IDEA, Stockholm, Sweden; 2015. https://www.idea.int/news-media/media/electoral-systems-national-legislation. Note: below there is a map that only includes countries considered “free” by Freedom House, while the map above includes countries that are considered “not free”, like Russia, or “partly free”, like Nigeria, because they have elections. China and Saudi Arabia, by contrast are considered as “having no elections” in the map above.

Beginning in the 20th century, the consensus view has been that majoritarian democracies are more stable and moderate than proportional representation democracies.

Majoritarian democracies can be broadly defined as having elections that require candidates to win a plurality or majority of votes in an election district to capture the seat. Proportional representation is found in democracies where seats in the legislature are acquired according to a party’s proportion of votes nationwide, whether they win in a district or not.

The view that majoritarianism reduces polarization had emerged…


By Roger Scher

Source: images.search.yahoo.com drawn from www.catholiclane.com

Over the last three decades, Center-Right and Center-Left reformers around the world have identified the key elements of country success.

Four principles of economic policy emerge from a study of this reform record.

In an effort to derive lessons for the U.S. today, this article considers programs implemented since the 1990s by governments we could call centrist.

This article will assess the record of governments led by these Center Left leaders:

  • German Social Democrat Gerhard Schröder,
  • U.K. Labour leader Tony Blair,
  • and, U.S. Democrats Bill Clinton and Barack Obama;

And, by these Center Right leaders:

  • Spain’s former…


How the “Infrastructure Ten” could save the Republic

By Roger Scher

Source: Politico, 6/10/21. Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mitt Romney arrive for a bipartisan meeting on infrastructure after original talks fell through with the White House. | Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Why this is important. If America’s political parties could cooperate on policies that advance country success, then our democracy would work. The efforts by 5 Democrats and 5 Republicans in the Senate, what I might call the “Infrastructure Ten”, or to use an old term, the “Gang of Ten”, could serve to safeguard the Republic.

If America’s Democrats and Republicans cannot work together to accomplish the nation’s business, then our democratic institutions will weaken. This is what has happened in dysfunctional democracies throughout history and around the world. …


100 in 100: South Africa, Nigeria, Tunisia…

President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa. Source: tralac.org; photo: gcis.gov.za

What can the U.S. learn from the experiences of African countries?

A great deal.

In our series, A Hundred Countries in a Hundred Days (100 in 100), you will recall that we are defining “days” by the standards of other planets in the solar system. This provides time for analysis. We will now look at three African countries.

I am by no means an Africa specialist. Before becoming global head of country risk at GE, I had two regional specialties — Latin America and Asia. That said, with GE’s large footprint worldwide, I…


Per capita GDP, US$, from IMF WEO, April 2021; IMF forecasts 2021–26

This post officially launches “A hundred countries in a hundred days”, a Country Success series. This may seem ambitious for a single country risk analyst like myself to do… and do well. So, in deference to this sympathetic view, I will only commit to meeting this goal by the standards of the solar system, rather than Earth (see below).


Follow-up — Bernie Sanders goes to bat for Reconciliation to get more spending…

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) shares a laugh as he warms up before his baseball game against the Leaders Believers Achievers Foundation at the Field of Dreams Baseball field on August 19, 2019 in Dyersville, Iowa. (Photo: Joshua Lott/Getty Images); From Common Dreams

The strategy of “progressives” is to wait for the bipartisan infrastructure negotiations (of the “Infrastructure Ten”) discussed in my last Bipartisanship Watch post to fail in order to move their spending priorities forward in reconciliation.

The Politico article excerpted below argues that Sen. Bernie Sanders is taking a quiet but determined approach to preparing an alternative reconciliation bill, replete with all of President Biden’s spending items. He is on deck, warming up, swinging his bat.

Perhaps Bernie is doing this so as not to anger Commissioner Gordon…


Source: IMF WEO, April 2021. General Government Debt (federal, state, local), 2019

Thank you all who have subscribed to my Substack newsletter, Country Success… IT’S FREE…

If you haven’t, please subscribe here. Read my latest post on President Biden’s speech to Congress here.

Tell friends who might be interested. It’s all about getting a critical mass of subscribers. This newsletter needs some exponential math… Apologies if I have sent you duplicate requests.

In my latest post, I comment on President Biden’s impressive speech before Congress last week, arguing that his economic plan should be anchored to lessons learned from reformers around the world, from Center Left to Center Right.

Partner with me…


In the class I teach on Country Risk at NYU, this month we convened a model corporate Country Risk Committee, to review the “firm’s” largest country exposures in China, Germany and the U.S., among other countries.

Here are five cool charts and tables the students and I discussed.

China

China suffers from a debt overhang. As the country has powered ahead as an exporting and innovation juggernaut, it has also experienced excessive credit growth resulting in bad debts.

Credit is “Total Social Financing” (TSF), including bank loans (>60% of total), shadow banking, corporate bonds & equities, govt bonds, etc., a metric the Chinese authorities track. IMF forecasts. Sources: IMF Article IV reports & WEO, Scher GE presentation 2015, Haver

The chart above shows that when credit (the green line) grows faster than GDP (the red line), then credit-to-GDP (the blue bar) rises…


The Net International Investment Position — what the U.S. owes the rest of the world — ain’t lookin’ good…

By Roger Scher

Although this post is a bit wonkish, please don’t stop reading it till the end because there is a really cool chart there…

Ok, full disclosure, this chart at the end is a bit busy — too busy in fact — and challenging to decipher. It will be worth the wait, however, because it is chock full of information about what is driving America’s excessive borrowing abroad, how long this has been a problem, and what can be…


The Biden team is doing a good job on pandemic rescue & green investment, but should do more to protect the job-creating multilateral trade & investment system the U.S. helped erect after WWII…

By Roger Scher

WTO data

American Jobs Plan

Quick out of the gate, the Biden administration has done a commendable job funding health care and the prudent opening of schools, replacing aggregate demand, down due to the pandemic, helping the neediest and reducing inequality, and now rolling out an infrastructure plan, fully funded, that would drive productivity and GDP growth higher.

Well, nearly fully funded.

First, the higher corporate taxes are back-loaded…

Roger Scher

Roger teaches political economy at NYU, is the former Head of Country Risk at GE, & co-author of Ten Point Plan for the U.S. (https://countrysuccess.net/)

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