Because of massive Chinese subsidies to several industries, no free trade exists and markets have failed. To survive, U.S. and European companies must seek government support to open Chinese markets and to protect themselves from subsidized products domestically.
For many years, countries in sub-Saharan Africa have spent large amounts on subsidizing fuel and electricity. For both sources of energy combined, this averages around 3-4 percent of GDP. Is this a good use of scarce resources?
The goal of continued stability -- and certainly the hope for more broadly shared growth -- cannot be taken lightly. Everybody I spoke to in Algiers agreed the country needs a more open and diverse economy to create a bigger pie, and to ensure that all Algerians get their fair share in it.
The fundamental problem with subsidies is that they benefit the rich far more than the poor. They are as expensive as they are inefficient, failing to deliver any economic or social value equal to the money spent on them.
Europe may not be dealing with freak weather events at the moment, but in economic and social terms the storm clouds over the continent have become a permanent feature on the landscape -- for at least the past three years now -- and the hard rain is now falling, in bucket loads.
Now that the election is over, what steps can the president and new Congress take to ensure our nation's ongoing clean-energy leadership? Here are five actions for Mr. Obama that, if implemented, we believe would supercharge the U.S.'s clean-tech economy.
If we can identify which members of Congress attended certain meetings, we can ask them about their interest in cutting wasteful fossil fuel subsidies first, given they are far larger than the cost of policies that support the growth of new clean energy sources.
Many businesses do not merely benefit from state intervention, but would sink without it. Liberals rarely confront the corporate interests that most rely upon Washington's redistribution of wealth to the powerful and socialization of risk.
President Obama, we get that you're concerned about the US losing its competitive advantage in relation to new powerhouses such as China, Brazil and India, but how can you look us in the eye and say that any level of poverty is okay?
Why is it that obvious reforms don't get done? Because behind every status-quo, there is a complex cobweb of vested interests of people, institutions, and corporations -- "actors" -- who would be hurt by change, so they stop it.
The key to calming these waters is not lurching from extension to extension of subsidy programs, but rather smart policy reform. We need a system that will sustain clean energy growth and maintain U.S. leadership in this highly competitive market.