Posted by: CJ | September 14, 2010

Links

Bunch of links. Most rather interesting.

The first is from Scott Sumner. He talks about the Germany Economy. He has this quick line at the end:

Germany’s strength, in my view, is its manufactured goods export sector.  I don’t know why they are so good at building BMWs and turbines, but my hunch is that it isn’t fiscal stimulus.  It probably has more to do with an educational system that has a technical skills track, and which doesn’t bore normal boys out of their minds in a futile attempt to use schools to create an egalitarian society.

I’ve talked to people about that idea before. But their impression was German technical schools are rather dreary places, were students are frustrated by being relegated to 2nd class status. But now I want to look into that more. Second class status is frustrating, but so, I imagine, is 10-15% unemployment rate. (Which is what it’s at for non-college educated worker looking for jobs. For college educated workers it’s only 5%.)

In other news, HR (human resources) departments using credit scores to rate applicants is unfair and probably exacerbates unemployment. It’s biased against those that weren’t prepared for unemployment, those that had unemployment come at a bad time regardless of circumstances, and those that are long-term unemployed. (Since your credit score goes down for frequent credit checks, which happens if you’re looking for a job.) H/t Kevin Drum.

Two articles on better eating and its relationship to a more healthy planet.

Jim Webb proposed affirmative-action based on income rather than race. Coming from a small town(-ish) working-class(-ish) white background, I’m fairly supportive of that idea.

Jonathan Chait notes that when issues of race come up, the Obama administration folds, astoundingly quickly.

Michelle Bachman thinks that a great idea if the Republicans win the house is to start investigating everything. There are ways I’m not happy about the Obama administration, but nothing I’ve read (and nothing I remember from the Clinton years) suggest this strategy would be good for the nation at all. In fact, it reminds me why I detest Bachmann so damn much.

On the US GDP-to-Debt ratio, Tyler Cowen has many comments, including this:

7. At some sufficiently high debt-gdp ratio, it becomes a foreign policy issue and a big one.  Postwar UK had a high debt to gdp ratio, and to this day it is a fine place, but that debt meant the end of England as a world power, for better or worse.  The U.S. for instance used financial issues to push England around and they basically had to give up on their overseas commitments.  A very high debt ratio here would mean the end of the U.S. as a global world power, again even if gdp does OK.  A global power needs the option of spending a lot more, quickly, without asking for anyone’s permission.  Your mileage on a U.S. retreat from the global policeman role will vary, but it’s the elephant in the room which hardly anyone is talking about.

Cowen is usually a very clear thinker, and he has a point. Being the global policeman costs a lot of money, and we often act like it doesn’t.

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