Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Blyth in the Media in Summer of Crises

August 15, 2011

Mark Blyth

In media ranging from CNN to the Financial Times, Faculty Fellow Mark Blyth has held forth over the summer on issues including the Middle East, the Greek and US debt crises, and gold-versus-paper currency.
 
Some of the commentary continues to reverberate from Blyth’s “Black Swan” article, co-written with professor of risk engineering at New York University’s Polytechnic Institute Nassim Nicholas Taleb for the May/June issue of Foreign Affairs. A Boston Globe article summarized Blyth and Taleb’s comparison of the revolutions taking place in the Middle East and the financial crisis, emphasizing the authors’ suggestions to “focus on causes, rather than catalysts” and to “be more willing to do nothing.” A Financial Times blog post also quoted the article’s comparison of the revolts in the Middle East to “the financial crash of 2008,” predicting a similar financial explosion in the “highly constrained system” of China.
 
In reference to the debt crisis in Greece, Blyth said on CNN Money in July that the Greek government could “default without shutting down the country.”
 
Blyth was also quoted in a Guardian article titled “Barack Obama warns Americans will suffer without debt crisis deal,” saying that the US economy’s dependence on China and fiscal gap make for an unprecedented situation that makes it difficult to predict what the impact of defaulting would be.
 
Blyth’s YouTube video last year criticizing austerity as a means of resolving government debt was also referenced in a post titled “What does austerity mean & is it virtue or vice?” on the Chicago Tribune’s On Money blog. While spending cuts may seem like the logical, easy solution to a growing debt crisis, “there is a time and a place for austerity,” the article summarizes.
 
And, in a National Review Online article titled “Not Worth a Dollar,” Blyth advocated that a paper standard allows for more transparency than does gold. “With gold, you can fudge it … with a paper standard, you better be telling the truth,” he said.

Blyth, a political economyst, directs the undergraduate International Relations and Development Studies Programs at Brown.

By Watson Institute Student Rapporteur Anna Andreeva ‘12