Krugman Unwillingly Embraces Improving Economy - October 31, 2003 -

Times Watch for October 31, 2003

Krugman Unwillingly Embraces Improving Economy

As even the Times trumpets on Friday's front-page that the U.S. economy is improving ("Economy Records Speediest Growth Since the Mid-80's" is their surprisingly enthusiastic headline), columnist and resident doomsayer Paul Krugman begrudgingly agrees, while adamantly refusing to credit his arch-nemesis Bush: "Still, it's possible that we really have reached a turning point. If so, does it validate the Bush economic program? Well, no."

For the rest of Krugman's muted reaction to the economy's recent growth, click here.

Columnists | Economy | Paul Krugman

Thatcher the Throwback

Alan Cowell's Friday dispatch from London, "Ex-Home Secretary Seeks to Lead Britain's Conservatives," attacks from the left the bid by Michael Howard to take the reins of Britain's Conservative Party, after party leader Iain Duncan Smith's loss of a no-confidence vote Wednesday.

Cowell writes that "Mr. Howard, a former barrister and the son of Romanian-born immigrants, will be under pressure to win the support of moderate Tories who see him as a throwback to the right-wing policies of Margaret Thatcher. As home secretary, he was known to be tough on crime in the 1990's and who has been virulently opposed to Britain adopting the European single currency, the euro. He has also been depicted by his critics as somehow sinister and shady, dogged by a remark by a onetime aide who said there was 'something of the night' about him."

However, as Cowell noted in a Thursday piece, the author of that remark, Ann Widdicombe, supports Howard's bid.

For the rest of Alan Cowell's piece on Tory infighting, click here.

Britain | Alan Cowell | Margaret Thatcher | Tories

U.S. to Blame for Bulging British Bellies?

While her London colleague Alan Cowell talks of a "throwback" to the days of Margaret Thatcher, reporter Lizette Alvarez's own story for Friday ponders a return to the nanny state that Thatcher opposed. In "U.S. Eating Habits, and Europeans, Are Spreading Visibly," Alvarez says the U.S. is to blame for bulging Brits, and brings up the possibility of government intervention to stop people eating so much.

"Krispy Kreme arrived in Britain this month at the food section of Harrods, just a quick sashay away from pricey bonbons and minitubs of pt," writes Alvarez. "It is another example of how familiar American-style eating habits, and their bulging consequences, have become in Britain and most other European countries. Sedentary lifestyles are part of the reason, experts say. So is an environment where adults and children alike are bombarded with commercials for yummy, sugary foods. But most of all, Europeans are eating differently: they are eating more like Americans."

Is there anything the U.S. isn't to blame for?

Alvarez adds, almost regretfully: "But unlike smoking, eating is not outright harmful to health, so it is more difficult to control by legislation.Doctors recently proposed adding a 17.5 percent 'fat tax' on some fattening foods sold here, but the idea was criticized as unjust to the poor, who consume more processed foods than wealthier people. Ireland is already holding government hearings on the idea of such a tax."

For all their vaunted cosmopolitanism, Times reporters seem to have an outsized sense of America's influence worldwide. Such signature British offerings as fish and chips are hardly low-calorie, and it wasn't the U.S. that invented the deep-fried Mars bar (a Scottish invention popular in London).

For the rest of Alvarez's story, click here.

Lizette Alvarez | Britain | Diet | Health | Obesity