Links round-up

Hi all,

With the final test in full swing and nicely balanced, I’m not going to lie: I’m pretty distracted right now. It doesn’t help that I’m working from home, with the sun shining outside and the garden in full view (increasingly dominated by a courgette plant that began life occupying a small corner of one of the beds and now threatens to colonise not only the adjoining bed but also the garden next door – any tips on how to prevent him causing a small diplomatic incident?). But it’s not been all good this week: Jeanne Moreau died, saddening anyone brought up on the French New Wave. And as for anger…

  1. It’s been a while since I went on a full scale rant here, but this really set me off: this week’s events in Venezuela are completely shameful, the icing on the cake on years of sustained economic crimes against humanity. Ricardo Hausmann presents the case for the prosecution, and it is shocking: “Venezuela’s GDP in 2017 is 35% below 2013 levels, or 40% in per capita terms… Income poverty increased from 48% in 2014 to 82% in 2016… The same study found that 74% of Venezuelans involuntarily lost an average of 8.6 kilos … in weight. The Venezuelan Health Observatory reports a ten-fold increase in in-patient mortality and a 100-fold increase in the death of newborns in hospitals in 2016.” Let’s be totally clear here: the scale of this suffering can only be laid at the feet of those making policy. Every decision made has been a bad one, starting from the ones that had short-term payoffs. Doubling down on them is one of three things: criminal stupidity; venality and corruption; or evil.
  2. “Like killing a fly with a sledgehammer: you’re going to do more damage than good.” Keeping with things that have made me furious this week, this is how long-time Links round-up hero Michael Clemens has described the proposals tabled by Trump to limit legal migration. It is brilliant, not just for those interested in immigration – Clemens describes how the economy functions as a dynamic entity, in ways that can be difficult to grasp for those who haven’t studied it (and even for some of those who have, evidently). Related, Michael also blogs on a new paper he’s done looking at the relative importance of violence and conflict and economic conditions in stimulating outward migration (he finds them around equal, at least in the context he examines); and Vijaya Ramachandran has a short but very sweet post pointing out that despite all of the restrictions they face, Syrian refugees in Turkey have already invested more than $300 million in the economy there.
  3. Speaking of Trump, and continuing on the theme of ranting and anger: the National Review absolutely eviscerates the myth of President Dealmaker here: “He isn’t smart enough to do the job and isn’t man enough to own up to the fact. For all his gold-plated toilets, he is at heart that middling junior salesman watching Glengarry Glen Ross and thinking to himself: ‘that’s the man I want to be’”.
  4. Want good news? It will annoy the myriad China-pessimists I seem to meet these days, but it seems like China has quietly and competently begun to deal with its debt problems.
  5. Speaking of quiet competence, there’s the Bank of England. In a speech that should be required reading for anyone interested in trade and anyone who would like to understand how the theory of comparative advantage explains why we’re all so much better off today than we were 20 years ago, Deputy Governor Ben Broadbent discusses how importing as much as exporting explains why we get paid more to do stuff today; and also discusses the winners and losers of the process, and how to respond to them.
  6. I was really prepared to dislike this (the Guardian touching on economics always raises that spectre for me), but it’s actually very good. Viv Groskop discusses the gender pay gap and offers sound advice: “It seems we are all saddled with preconceptions about money and gender that will take years to unravel. In the meantime, why not risk being disliked? Ask for what you’re worth. Be prepared to demonstrate it.”
  7. Unlikely as it sounds, you know where you will get a very sound (background) discussion of economics? Trading Places. So good, in fact, there is actually a Congressional ruling known as the Eddie Murphy rule. Read this wonderful oral history of the movie, which makes the joke I would love to reproduce, but am reduced to linking to.

Have a great weekend, everyone!


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