Posted by: CJ | January 6, 2010

Fun Links

This is just a bunch of links I’ve found over the past few days that are very interesting, but I have little to add. Apparently the holiday break has given many of my favorite bloggers time to write up new and interesting things, or at least find good links.

  1. Chris Blattman’s  tab dump from a week ago. Includes a comparison of prices of various liquids to printer ink, a link to “If Star Wars had Facebook”, and GiveWell’s analysis of microfinance.
  2. Blattman summarizes a talk given by Dani Rodrick. In the talk, Prof. Rodrick apparently argued that China’s various economic actions over the past decade haven’t been malevolent in intent, but focused on maintaining China’s economic growth. And, since China has more poor people than any other nation except India, it’s hard to argue China is wrong on humanitarian grounds. This is part of a larger narrative that if one is truly dedicated to reducing human suffering and poverty, then the growing wealth of places like China and India is cause for rejoicing.
  3. Matt Yglesias reviews Brad DeLong and Stephen Cohen’s book The End of Influence. The book, broadly, is about America’s oncoming decline in power relative to the rest of the world. Especially China. But it’s not scare-mongering. It’s an honest intellectual effort to understand why is happening and why. Yglesias concludes with this very interesting remark, which dovetails with the narrative in Rodrik’s talk. “As a result, we’re going to have to transition to a very different-looking world economic order—one in which self-conscious government planning is going to play a bigger role, one in which US living standards will decline relative to our major trading partners, and in which American cultural and ideological influence is likely to wane” That will be an interesting change indeed. I hope it doesn’t cause even more hysteria in American politics.
  4. Ezra Klein just conclusively convinced me that term limits are utter folly. The knock-out argument was the following: “As a California budget-watcher pointed out to me, when you get Arnold Schwarzenegger in a room with the leadership of the Senate and Assembly, Schwarzenegger has the most budget and legislative experience in the room. A guy who was starring in Terminator films as recently as 2003 is now the most seasoned elected official during one of the worst crises California has ever had.”
  5. Daniel Davies has two separate pieces, one quoted by Brad DeLong and the other at Crooked Timber, using an excellent line. “The production of more or less mendacious intellectual smokescreens for policies which favour the interests of rich and powerful men isn’t a sort of industrial pollution from the modern economics profession – it’s the product.” It’s comments like that which make me glad I avoided going into academic economics.

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