Links round-up

Hi all,

 So, I don’t know exactly what has happened, but instead of Sri Lanka doing the normal thing where they get my hopes up just a little, and then dash it into tiny pieces on the sharp rock of a batting collapse, we actually won the test last week. Not only that, but we’re absolutely *tonking* Australia in the second test.  The only logical explanation is that the end of days is upon us and we will need to settle all earthly accounts shortly. So I should probably get a move on and send these links out.

 1.       This doesn’t sound like very good news for developing countries (part 2,309,913 of a continuing series): Planet Money on a new technology to mechanise garment production. No, not a simple sewing machine. It’s a robot – one that a US Scientist has a million dollar grant to develop, which would basically allow all of the labour content of textile and garment production to be removed. The people involved seem remarkably chipper about the prospects of the millions of people in developing countries for whom textiles offers the most realistic route out of poverty, perhaps because they’re about to become gazillionaires and plan on compensating the losers. Somehow I doubt this. (Transcript, that sound in the background is Bangladesh swearing).

2.       India are about to remove a big chunk of the non-tariff barriers that reduce their ability to export (and others’ ability to import) – and with it, will wipe out a big chunk of its tax collection capacity. This has some people worried, given that people have finally woken up to my favourite pet stat – the tiny proportion of Indians who actually pay tax (most people quote that 1% of the population pay income tax; though it should be noted that the number of ‘effective taxpayers’ is closer to 3%).

3.       This is definitely one for the economists only, and even then, only the ones who want a few equations to set their hearts racing: Dietrich Vollrath investigates a puzzle in the data on US Manufacturing output, prices and share of GDP. He uses some investigative economics and equations to provide one possible solution to the puzzle, explaining it clearly at each step. I read Dietz because he’s a brilliant growth economist, but also because he helps me understand things I could not have understood on my own. He must be a great teacher.

4.       You may not have noticed, but London’s housing market is absolutely and completely nuts. Tokyo’s on the other hand (while still objectively damn expensive) is much better behaved, with prices fairly steady despite increasing populations. Alex Tabarrok whips out the red marker he uses to deface regulation and suggests a reason why (there may be other explanations, and the headline ‘Libertarian disapproves of regulation’ is hardly a shocker, but this seems sensible to me).

5.       If you can see beyond the patronising cartoons, this Vox article, drawing heavily on Claudia Goldin’s work, is a really good explainer of the root issues behind the gender pay gap. It’s very good, but doesn’t have a convincing answer to what to do when it’s not just flexibility but number or hours that need to be put in when a job is a natural monopoly (i.e. not suited to sharing due to extremely high sunk costs to achieving role-specific competence). Fairer childcare burdens doesn’t solve that problem. Anyway, we’ll be lucky when that’s the only gender-equality problem we have left to solve.

6.       Michael Clemens on migration, which is self-recommending, but the politics around this are going in the opposite direction to where he (correctly, in my book) puts the common weal. And I don’t know who has answers on that.

7.       Do a survey, help a friend! My friend Matt has a great, great idea for a fun paper, but needs your help. It’s easy and you will all get co-author credit (I didn’t clear that with him, but it’s only fair, right?).

8.       Lastly, the only real appeal of the Olympics for me is the boxing (and though we’ve lost the genius Vasyl Lomachenko to the pros, Robeisy Ramirez Carrazana has moved up a weight class to Bantam, and if he’s as good as he was last time, they may as well hand over the medal now). But LitHub have a great piece on how writers relate to the Olympics, and it’s full of little gems like “[In Syria] We write about suffering, about love, about war, oppression, hope, optimism, pessimism. But not sports.” Well worth a read.

 Have a great weekend, everyone!

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