Daniel Altman

This Is Not Your Father's Stock Market

6 ways that global investing is breaking the rules.

Do you know who Haruhiko Kuroda is? He's the man who's been selling happy pills to Wall Street for the past couple of weeks, causing the stock market to rally beyond its already precarious peaks. The influence of Japan's central bank governor on trading in New York is just one of the reasons the market hasn't been behaving in ways that conventional assumptions would predict. In fact, the boilerplate investing caveat that "past performance is no guarantee of future results" has never been truer. Here's a rundown of what looks different now.

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Divided, We Stand

If Republicans win, does the global economy, too?

Today's midterm election in the United States holds forth the very real prospect that both houses of Congress will fall into Republican hands for the first time since 2005. With an unpopular Democrat still in the White House, governmental gridlock seems assured. But the rest of the global economy will be watching to see if the two parties can finally work together -- and perhaps, in some ways, they can.

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The Dark Side of Dilma

Why Brazil's election result is nothing but trouble.

Close elections in corrupt countries stink. Sure, it's great to see a peaceful transfer of power, especially when the numbers are on a knife-edge. But the result that Brazil has just produced in its presidential election -- 51.4 percent for Dilma Rousseff to 48.5 percent for Aécio Neves -- is about as destructive as can be.

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The Canary in China's Central Bank

Is Beijing's Ben Bernanke on his way out?

How quickly will China follow through on the ambitious package of economic reforms its government adopted last November? With quarterly growth in the country's output at a five-year low, at least according to official statistics, it's the trillion-dollar question. That's how much economic activity might be unleashed by breaking open state-dominated industries and taking the brakes off capital markets. And the first part of the answer may come down to a choice between two men.

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When the Petrodollars Run Out

Oil and gas prices are falling through the floor. And some countries are woefully unprepared for the drop.

It's good to be Vladimir Putin these days. The Russian president can jerk most European countries around without fearing the consequences, thanks to their dependence on his natural gas. Meanwhile, Putin's customers are probably dreaming of the day when they can tell him to piss off. But when they can finally live independently of his resources, international influence won't be the only thing that crumbles for Russia and other petrostates.

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