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April 18, 2019

City Elementary, a diverse learning school located in Hyde Park, is celebrating its fifth anniversary. Please join us for this celebration and help us continue the good work of the school. Please go to https://city-elementary-benefit19.eventbrite.com to purchase tickets or make a contribution. If you cannot join us in person, please do make a contribution to City Elementary.

April 05, 2019

The simple line on the Middle East is that the Shi’a — as embodied in Iran, which is the world’s only official Shi’a state — is pushing an aggressive foreign policy that leaves the region in turmoil. In fact, Iran’s foreign policy is only a minor contribution to the chaos of the Middle East. Instead, it is important to focus squarely on the multiple dysfunctions of the Sunni states — the Arab world plus Turkey and Pakistan. Something is dramatically wrong in those countries and the consequences are poverty and political turmoil.
——Marvin Zonis

March 19, 2019

An avid China watcher argues that the travails of American companies in China, particularly Apple and GM, owe less to internal China conditions and more to the companies and their product offerings themselves.
——Marvin Zonis

March 13, 2019

Germany’s current account surplus — the balance of all its transactions with the rest of the world — is the highest in the world. In 2018 it was $294 billion. Japan’s surplus was $173 billion. China’s was a paltry $49.1 billion in the same year (although non-official estimates put the actual number $1 billion higher). Meanwhile, the U.S. ran up a current account deficit of $478.6 billion. Germany’s staggering surplus reflects a basic truth about the country. Germans like to save. They don’t like to spend. Here is an explanation for why that is true….
——Marvin Zonis

March 05, 2019

The DSM is basically the ‘Bible’ of mental health professionals in the United States. "The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5) is the product of more than 10 years of effort by hundreds of international experts in all aspects of mental health. Their dedication and hard work have yielded an authoritative volume that defines and classifies mental disorders in order to improve diagnoses.” (https://www.psychiatry.org/psychiatrists/practice/dsm) Here, an MD takes the components of the DSM definition of an “Anti-Social Personality Disorder” and applies them to the long personal history of what we know about President Trump. The result produces the shocking realization that our President is emotionally impaired and a text book example of a DSM mental disorder. This diagnosis was made during the 2016 Presidential campaign. Nothing that characterizes the President since that campaign changes this diagnosis. The value of the diagnosis is that it helps us understand more of his behavior and contributes to better forecasts of what he is likely to to do in the future.
——Marvin Zonis

February 27, 2019

Past Saudi policies in Yemen are the most likely explanation for the slow rise of the Houthis and their anti-Saudi stance. For the last four years, the Saudis have waged war against them to diminish their control over much of the country. The war has accomplished at least three things. First, it has demonstrated the total incompetence of the Saudi military. The Saudi goal of becoming a major Middle Eastern power is now obviously an absurdity. Second, the Saudi bombing campaign has utterly pulverized Yemen while its blockade of the major port of Hodeidah has inflicted a humanitarian disaster by preventing food and medicine imports. Third, by ginning up what is basically a non-existent Iranian threat, the Saudis have managed to keep President Trump committed to the Saudi cause. All in all a disaster of the first order.
——Marvin Zonis

February 22, 2019

The Trump administration has just concluded a global conference held in Warsaw meant to ratchet up pressure on Iran. More than 60 nations attended although several major countries — particularly the Europeans -- refused to send their top diplomats. Vice President Pence set the conference tone by referring to the Iranian regime as “evil” and accusing them of planning a new Holocaust. While the conference was going on, another conference was being held in the same city, a conference organized by the Iranian opposition group, the Mujahedin-e Khalq or MEK. The MEK, apparently funded by the Saudis, is committed to the overthrow of Iran’s clerical regime. The highlight of their conference was a speech by President Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. While President Trump claims regime change is not his goal in Iran, Giuliani’s speech signals otherwise.
——--Marvin Zonis

February 18, 2019

There are many ways in which government policies decrease inequality. Unfortunately, for those who believe America’s skyrocketing inequality is not only bad but even dangerous for the country, government tax policies actually increase inequality.
——Marvin Zonis

February 14, 2019

While the administration slams Iran for its domestic repression, nothing is heard of the abuse that Saudi Arabia imposes on its subjects. Since MBS — Muhammad Bin Salman — became Crown Prince, any sign of dissent in the Kingdom and any sign of criticism that comes from anyone but the Crown Prince has been ruthlessly suppressed. So women who advocated for the right for women to drive — a right granted by MBS - were imprisoned. Religious scholars with opinions contrary to MBS’ coterie of clerics get similar treatment. Here is the story of a cleric who has been outside the Saudi religious establishment and the price he and his family is paying for that independence.

(My sources in the Kingdom conform the essential authenticity of this piece.)

———Marvin Zonis

January 28, 2019

Something is clearly wrong in the U.S. Whether the statistics deal with life expectancy, social mobility, income inequality or a host of other factors, the statistics show the same thing — the majority of Americans are getting left behind. The two questions that need to be asked are “why has this come about?” and "what is to be done about it?” This article does not try to answer the first question. Instead it suggests that the American elite — made up largely of corporate executives plus some retired politicians, for example, Bill Clinton — are attempting solutions to the second question that may provide some amelioration of the problem but simultaneously preserve their own position at the top of the hierarchy. Instead, the author argues, both the analysis of the problem and the creation of solutions belong squarely in the political arena. Of course, if you believe as I do that the political arena has largely been captured by the same elite, the author’s “solution” is not going to work.
———Marvin Zonis

January 15, 2019

Brendan Brown, PhD, is one of the world’s leading monetary theorists. He is senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and associate scholar at Mises Institute. He is a columnist for Nikkei Veritas and a frequent guest on Bloomberg TV and Radio. Brown is a monetary economist whose areas of special expertise include Austrian monetary tradition, European monetary integration, Japanese monetary issues, the global flow of capital and international financial history. He has developed techniques of market analysis during a long career in international financing including the role of chief economist at Mitsubishi (UFJJ) International Finance. He has published many books on international financial topics including most recently (2018) “The Case Against 2 per cent inflation” (Palgrave). He received a PhD from University of London and MBA from University of Chicago.

Dr. Brown has begun a new publication, "Monetary Scenarios,” the inaugural issue of which is below. To receive further mailings, contact him directly at brendanbrown@monetaryscenarios.com.

——Marvin Zonis

January 11, 2019

At his recent cabinet meeting, President Trump presented an entirely false account of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 — precisely the account being pushed by Vladimir Putin. It is an account which is false. It both justifies the Soviet invasion and misstates the effect of the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan on the collapse of the USSR. Where Trump got that interpretation and why he is offering a justification for the USSR invasion remains a mystery — along with so much else about him.

November 28, 2018

In recent years, foreign owned enterprises in China have been under increasing price pressures. For example, according to tradingeconomics.com, wages in manufacturing in China increased to 64,452 CNY/Year in 2017 from 24,192 CNY/Year in 2008. At current exchange rates, that is equivalent to $9,268.47/Year. Many companies have canvassed Southeast Asia for lower cost manufacturing countries. Some bailed out of China for Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. Now, added pressure on companies in China has been added from the tariffs that President Trump imposed on Chinese manufacturing exports. Once again, fleeing China seems a good option. But no other country in the region (and probably the world) can offer the benefits of manufacturing in China. Here is one explanation, by a Chinese manufacturing sourcing company, as to why Vietnam, in fact, is not a good alternative to China.
--Marvin Zonis

November 27, 2018

In his role as military leader, Trump fails as he does as moral leader of the American people and, apparently, as leader of the non-military federal bureaucracy
--Marvin Zonis



The Kimchi Matters: Global Business and Local Politics in a Crisis Driven World,
co-authors Daniel Lefkovitz and Sam Wilkin, Chicago: Agate Press, 2003

The Eastern European Opportunity, A Complete Guide and Sourcebook,
co-author Dwight Semler, New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1992

Majestic Failure: The Fall of the Shah,
Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1991

Khomeini and the Islamic Republic of Iran,
co-author Daniel Brumberg, Cambridge: Harvard Middle East Papers
, 1987

The Political Elite of Iran.
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976


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March 5, 2014
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"Iran's New Leaders and the American Response"
August 5, 2013
"A Beheading in London; A Bombing in Boston: The Transformations of the al-Qaeda Threat"
May 24th, 2013
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"Realistic Optimism on Nuclear Talks with Iran"
May 22, 2012
International Business Times
"Austerity Push in Greece Leaves Citizens Hungry for Alternatives"
February 23, 2012
"US Economy Poised for Growth"
February 3, 2012
Chicago Tribune
"Will Israel Bomb Iran?"
November 13, 2011
Chicago Tribune
"MidEast Rulers of a Certain Age" [PDF]
March 6, 2011
Chicago Tribune
"Are We Going to Miss Mubarak?"
February 4, 2011

Les Echos
"Washington Risque de Regretter Le Depart d'Hosni Moubarak"
February 2, 2011
(French version)
Les Echos
"Washington Risque de Regretter Le Depart d'Hosni Moubarak"
February 2, 2011
(English version)

Credit Suisse
"Middle East and Africa - Regulation Will Influence the
Future of Banking"
June 1, 2010

ROOZ, 1116
"The Iranian People Are Entitled to More Freedom"
February, 2010

The Wall Street Journal
"Russian Ripples Hit U.S. Firms - Sharp Slowdown in Consumer
Spending Is Felt From Cigarettes to Copier"
August 2009

The Mind of a Mullah
June 17, 2009

Focus Trends (Dutch)
"Obama Is Jezus Christus"
February 2009

GSB Magazine
"Faculty Smackdown with Marvin Zonis: From HBS Dropout
to Iran, Nightline, and the GSB"
Part One [PDF]
Part Two [PDF]
January, 2006