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From Trump’s trade wars to Brazil’s fires, the world is on the brink

Niall Ferguson

By Niall Ferguson (Original source The Times)

‘“Hey, Toreador! . . . We head for the edge, and the first man who jumps is a chicken. All right?” In Rebel without a Cause, Jim (James Dean) and Buzz (Corey Allen) play the most famous game of chicken in Hollywood history, driving their jalopies at full speed towards a Californian cliff. At the last minute, Jim jumps. Buzz, his sleeve caught on the door handle, plunges to his death.

Games of chicken are all around these days. Indeed, it starts to feel as if the whole world is playing a massive, multiplayer game of chicken.

Clearly, Boris Johnson’s jaunts to Berlin and Paris last week were part of a diplomatic game of chicken. The prime minister repeated his readiness to go over the cliff of a no-deal Brexit if the European Union is not prepared to scrap the Irish backstop. Contrary to some UK press reports, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and French president, Emmanuel Macron, essentially reiterated their commitment to the existing withdrawal agreement. Vroom!”

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