Links round-up

Hi all,

You know the downside of spending a week in Thailand eating the ocean short of prawns and a week in Sri Lanka developing a section of midriff devoted entirely to rice and curry? (There is no downside, obviously, but I have to say something now). It’s coming back to 1600 articles in your RSS feed, several hundred e-mails and a meeting calendar that qualifies as a cruel and unusual punishment. The links probably miss some brilliant stuff– apologies. I confess to not actually reading all 1600 and instead doing actual work.

Quickly, though: Last time, I asked for the economic ideas that we should shred, and I got some glorious answers. Some of them are properly brave – Coase theorem into the bin, anyone? And should we junk the idea that education is a prerequisite for economic convergence? Someone guessed my own pet hate (Gary Becker), but my favourite answer came from Thom A who proposed the late William Baumol’s theory of contestable markets in industrial organisation, introduced in a hilarious AEA paper which casts him as the Luke Skywalker of an intrepid band of economic rebels.

1.       I made some strong predictions in private about the outcome of the recent General Election, and these turned out to be spectacularly wrong,  so wrong that I wrote a navel-gazing e-mail about the mistakes and biases my predictions had fallen prey to. I almost certainly would have avoided that e-mail if I’d just read the 538 coverage of the elections, which came out only after I went on leave. Nate Silver’s piece on the range of likely outcomes and what the polls really say was magisterial and addresses the major biases I suffered from. His analysis was spot on, and he – almost uniquely – was able to say that the result wasn’t much of a surprise. Related: Nate also thinks that Trump might be behind recent political trends in Europe.

2.       A lot of good stuff on migration came out while I was away. Most excitingly, Michael Clemens did a piece for Vox summarising stuff I’ve already linked, but dropping the bombshell that he’s about to publish a book called The Walls of Nations. If I come round to your place and you don’t own this book, we’re done. Also from CGD, how migration to the US drove India’s tech boom, while 538 cover new research on the possible economic benefits of refugees. And lastly, a great piece on what distinguishes those who leave from those who stay. It’s packed with interesting ideas, so much so that I want to see the original research…

3.       A wide ranging interview with Dani Rodrik, covering the usual bases: globalization, trade and internationalism, and what the limits on these should be. It had never occurred to me that Rodrik is an optimist in pessimistic clothing. Consider this quote: “If national economies were run properly, they could generate full employment, they could generate satisfactory social bargains and good distributive outcomes; and they could generate an open and healthy world economy as well.” That’s a bold claim.

4.       Gabriel Zucman and co look at tax evasion in Scandinavia using the Panama Papers and Wikileaks – most people seem to mainly pay what they owe, but the super-rich are masters of avoiding this: up to 30% of their taxes are avoided. Also on inequality – how do Americans and Europeans think about inequality and their ability to overcome it? Despite Raj Chetty taking it out back and delivering a thorough thrashing to it, apparently the American Dream lives on. Emphasis on ‘dream’.

5.       Dan Rogger on the different kinds of civil servants who staff bureaucracies in developing countries. Engaging, interesting and a hugely under-studied topic.

6.       Need a reading list on gender? (The answer is yes, by the way). This one is really good, covering wage gaps, participation in roles of power, incentives to collaborate and more. Recommended. And equally useful – a stopwatch that measures the relative time women and men spend talking in meetings. I’m more than happy to report results back next week if you use this. Just send me a screenshot of the final score and the number of men and women in the meeting.

7.       LeBron lost, yes, but I’m going to quote D’Angelo Barksdale to you: “the King stay the King“. He averaged a triple-double in the finals, in which he appeared seventh straight year. As The Ringer noted, nothing changes for him: if he wins the championship again, people will ask if he was better than Jordan. And if he never does, they will still ask themselves the same question. That’s his only competition now, that ghost. Also, he did this in the NBA finals. It was disrespectful to the Warriors, his teammates, gravity and my credulity. Anyway, Pakistan won the Champions Trophy in the most Pakistan way possible – completely unexpectedly and punctuated by moments of utter genius. You can’t have it all, and at least we got that.

 There’s heaps more in my RSS feed, but my patience has worn thin – it’ll have to wait till next week.

 Have a great weekend, everyone!


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