Read, Watch, Listen and Assorted
A daily collection of interesting links
Developing East Asia has led the way in showing how rapid and broadly shared growth can lift millions out of poverty. And, as this book shows, the region has achieved even more: the wave of prosperity across the region since the 1980s has lifted three out of five of its citizens into economic security, where their risk of falling into poverty is minimal. Alongside this, a solid middle class has emerged in most countries. But these successes do not guarantee that inclusive growth — growth that reduces poverty and delivers upward mobility and economic security for all — is assured. The region has become more diverse, with progress varying across countries and extreme poverty increasingly concentrated among specific groups. Roughly a fifth of the region’s population still remains at risk of falling into poverty and prospects for upward mobility are seen as increasingly elusive across the income distribution, reflecting a growing concentration of income and wealth and limited access to basic social services. Challenges old and new, including rapid aging and less certain growth prospects, are also increasing the premium on economic security for all. Riding the Wave is about how countries across the region can effectively confront these challenges and achieve inclusive growth.
As Singapore becomes the hub for digital trade, it can also leverage its neutral position to allay fears among partner countries.
In the past, Singapore’s creation of a free trade port attracted physical trade flows to the country. We believe that Singapore would be well served by establishing a similar free data port that positions it as a neutral country for processing global trade data.
A free data port — an idea also proposed by former civil service head Peter Ho at the IPS-Nathan Lectures last May — would allow data from other countries to be stored and processed in Singapore, but in accordance with their individual country-specific data jurisdictions.
Though psychological and biomedical research have received the most attention, neuroscientific experiments involving brain-scanning machines have also been criticized for generating hard-to-reproduce results. For the psychologist Jerome Kagan, brain-scanning technology holds out the exciting prospect of learning the relationship between brain states and mental phenomena. But as he notes in FIVE CONSTRAINTS ON PREDICTING BEHAVIOR (M.I.T., $30), most of the psychological conclusions drawn from brain-scanning data are “tentative” and others “are simply wrong.” The reason for this, he argues, is a group of five obstacles, often overlooked, that prevent making “confident inferences” from what our brains are doing to what our minds are doing.
Meanwhile, Greece’s new finance minister, the ferociously charismatic and thoroughly Anglophone Yanis Varoufakis, became a global celebrity. His glamorous lifestyle, motorcycle, and tight T-shirts delighted the media. In Brussels, European officials still fume about his disruptive impact on their staid proceedings. In Greece he would face charges of treason. The appearance this fall of Varoufakis’s memoir, Adults in the Room, stirs old memories. The legendary Greek-French filmmaker Costa-Gavras has pronounced himself so “enraged by the violence and indifference of the Eurogroup members [i.e., the eurozone finance ministers], especially the German side, to the…unsustainable situation in which the Greek people live,” that he will turn Varoufakis’s exposé into a film.
Redesigning Governments — Paul Bennett — World Government Summit
Scott DeRue, the dean of University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, says the old model of business school education is gone. It’s no longer good enough to sequester yourself on campus for two years before heading out into the world of commerce. DeRue discusses how the perceived value of an MBA education is changing in the digital era, and how MBA programs are innovating in response to individual and company demands.
“If we are to correct the consequences of the world’s actions, we must understand the machinery that accounts for these consequences.”
“What I love about economics,” says Princeton economist Anne Case, “is that you can follow your nose. See where data and theory lead you. Discover things you never dreamed of.”
Case’s intellectual curiosity has led to a range uncommon in economics. The Princeton scholar has developed econometric theory, pioneered epidemiology, estimated technology diffusion models and explored political economy, opioid addiction and funeral expenditures. The work has taken her from India to Indonesia, from Albania to Africa, and now to Appalachia.
EF: Do you think there is much practical relevance for the theory of optimal tariffs?
Irwin: I tend to think of optimal tariffs in the context of export taxes, where some countries plausibly have market power in certain goods. It doesn’t really matter much in the U.S. context, of course, because in the Constitution we ruled out export taxes. The reason we took that policy instrument off the table is that the South, which was the primary export platform for the United States for most of the 19th century, didn’t want its cotton and tobacco exports taxed. But you can think about it hypothetically. I have done some counterfactual simulations about what would have happened if we could’ve imposed an optimal export tax. It would have been pretty high, about 40 percent or 50 percent, because we accounted for 80 percent of world production of cotton. Still, the gains from that would have been really small as a share of the South’s GDP and even smaller as a share of U.S. GDP. So I tend to think that the optimal tariff argument is a useful theoretical idea, but implementing it in a way that is particularly beneficial, even in cases where countries have substantial market power, is really difficult.
d. Lesson of the Day from #TwitterDevelopmentCourse
Colonialism increased violence in Africa by partitioning ethnic groups with artificial borders, leading to many post-colonial wars.