Links round-up

Hi all,

Before we start, a quick PSA: I’ve been having a lot of trouble getting the links out the last couple of weeks, due to a laptop upgrade (even with the extra stress in getting the links done, it’s definitely an upgrade), so please let me know if you’ve not been getting all of the e-mails. I’m aware that sending an e-mail to check if my e-mail is working is getting to Darwin awards levels of stupidity but I’m relying on those who do receive it to hear the complaints of those who don’t and tell them to e-mail me. There are more holes in this theory of change than in Hank Williams’ bucket, but it’ll have to do. And while I’m linking great songs filled with euphemisms for drinking, pour one out for Pete Shelley of the Buzzcocks, punk superstar and writer of one of the most perfect pop songs since Teenage Kicks, Do Anything.

  1. In time-honoured links tradition, we dive straight in to the bad news. A portion of the US yield curve inverted yesterday [cue dramatic music: Dunn-dunn-dunn!] After a wine-fuelled refresher course in the yield curve with a friend last night I can try and explain: investors typically requires extra compensation for holding longer term bonds because they lose the opportunity to make productive investments today. When the yield curve inverts, it means that they do not need such extra compensation, a sign that they think the shorter term investments aren’t going to be profitable – i.e. they expect a recession. As an indicator for a recession, a particular form of this inversion has a 100% hit rate, but luckily we haven’t seen that form inversion quite yet. Planet Money, whose Cardiff Garcia stans hard for the yield curve, dig deeper (transcript).
  2. If a recession is coming, try very hard not to enter the job market for the first time during it. Tim Harford lays out the role of luck in career earnings, with one big source of that luck being whether you enter the job market in good times or bad. It shouldn’t matter, but does, because humans are hopeless at computing complicated problems.
  3. However, we can learn. Christie Aschwanden, one of my favourite writers on science, has been covering the extended and sometimes acrimonious replication crisis afflicting social psychology since 2015. And she comes with good news: all this pain is doing what it was meant to, and improving the standard of research in the field.
  4. When I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t sleep, I watch basketball highlights. Branko Milanovic, on the other hand, casually shoots off an erudite blog linking contemporary French politics, the history of violent protest and the fight over who has to suffer for the greening of our economies. He takes off from the Gilets Jaune protests to again remark on the central flaw of Kate Raeworth’s doughnut economics: that in order to comply, rich countries will either need to agree on how to distribute a net halving of our incomes (which is politically impossible) or use technology to dramatically green all our production (which renders it indistinguishable from the techno-optimism that characterises market capitalist approaches). For balance here’s Kate’s latest write-up, and as far as I can see it still cannot address Branko’s point.
  5. Lagarde and Ostry on the macroeconomic implications of gender diversity. This is one of the more convincing ways of setting out the macroeconomic effects of better female participation in the workforce (using a model based on complementarities arising from differences in how women and men work, which could be controversial). But still, why do we need economics for this question? Surely gender equality should be pursued for its own merits, and not for the benefits it brings the economy?
  6. Michael Clemens and Kate Gough on what we need to do to make a Global Skills Partnership work. In case you need convincing that this is an important thing to do (and you shouldn’t), Perry Bacon, Jr. (whose name manages to simultaneously make me hungry and nostalgic) details all the ways Trump has managed to affect migration without putting a single brick in the wall.
  7. Finally, to cheer ourselves up, 538  answer the important questions, like: who would win a fight between an anaconda and a Komodo dragon? Amazingly most actual academics asked got into the spirit of things and gave an answer. And one more bit of musical bliss from Pete Shelley, this time squarely on the punk side.

Have a great weekend, everyone!


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