Photo Jonathan Blair

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The three North-Americas and their fate

The Canadian International Council asked me "Is North America dead?"

Here is my answer:

First there are three North Americas and their “death” stories are different.

One includes the three countries and was never really born, except in the decaying value chains of the auto sector, whose relative weight for all three partners is declining.

The second includes Canada and the US: it is alive on security issues with NORAD and the new perimeter as anchors. Economically, it is getting weaker as its backbone, the auto sector, in spite of some revival, looks essentially doomed over the medium or long term as a core industrial activity. On the energy front, it is weakening too. With shale gas, the US is becoming more independent from us (and from Mexico too). Keystone is a detail, but it should push Canada to diversify markets in Asia, further exploding northern-North America. Now, it is not dead and won’t die, but its importance will decline.

The third one includes Mexico and the US. It is alive on security, on trade, on migration, but as both countries’ trade patterns diversify away from the region, it is weakening too. Not dead, not about to die, but declining.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Poor Ahmadinejad

Iranian diplomacy has to be desperate. In the middle of an increasingly tense confrontation with the United States, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is travelling to Latin America, spending his time drumming up support in... Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Cuba... Even Brazil, now under a more pragmatic leadership with Dilma Roussef, is not on his program.

The sheer scale of the drug trade

The US government has just made a deal with Benjamin, El licenciado (the Graduate), Arellano Felix, a trafficker from one of the largest Mexican criminal families: in exchange for an admission of guilt, the guy is given a setence of 25 years and a fine of US $ 100 million, whereas the US government would have been seeking a sentence of 150 years.