Links for June’s End

Economics

The Elusive Quest for Prosperity in Mexico: Typically excellent article from Dani Rodrik serving as the preface to a surely fascinating book on development in Mexico by economist Santiago Levy.

Using Cladistics in Economics: As a formally trained evolutionary biologist turned economist, I’m always thinking about what economics can learn from biology.

The Dramatic Expansion of Corporate Bonds: It seems that in the post-Recession world of low interest rates and increased bank regulation, investors have turned to other instruments in the search for yield. Whether this is good or bad remains to be seen, but it should remind us that we can’t simply regulate away risk, and trying to clamp down too hard in one part of the economy (here, banks) just funnels activities into other parts of the economy that may be less desirable socially.

Jawboning Makes a Comeback: It wasn’t that long ago that common sense dictated that the control of inflation lay with the government, and not the central bank. Today it seems almost unimaginable for the government to dictate wage or price levels, and yet it was so as recently as the 1970s. Even when not directly controlling price levels, it was common practice for elected officials to conference with business leaders to convince them of the wisdom of a particular path. It is this latter practice that seems to be coming back into vogue, particularly in Japan.

A Bombshell Evaluation of Community Driven Development: CDD has been one of the trends in development policy, and it makes intuitive sense. Rather than dumping money into an outside entity for projects often totally divorced from the desires of a community, CDD aims to directly engage with the local people and work to give them what they need. Alas, outcomes on net don’t seem to have that much impact, though there are some positives.

Politics

How the Watergate Babies Broke American Politics: A really interesting history of the post-Watergate era, perhaps underappreciated in explaining how we got to where we are. File under ‘law of unintended consequences’.

Linguistics and the Second Amendment: Index to a series of posts using linguistic study to interpret the contemporary meaning of the notoriously vague Second Amendment. I love the idea of using the wealth of texts (via ‘big data’) from the end of the 18th century to try and situate the precise meaning of phrases that may have otherwise been lost to time.

When is Nationalism a Good Thing?: Short interview with the author of the new book Nation Building. Those of a liberal persuasion tend to be skeptical of nationalism, but there may be instances where it can be useful. In other words, we should think of nationalism as a means, not an end.

Potpourri

The Zen of Chaos: A theory of experimental/noise music.

Exploring the Digital Ruins of ‘Second Life’: For those of us old enough to remember the first days of the world wide web, the decay of Second Life presented here reminds me of the now lost dream of that early time. A truly free, open web of the kind that Second Life epitomized never came to fruition; instead, it seems more and more likely the future of the internet will be increasingly gated, accessed only through semi-curated platforms: YouTube, Facebook, etc.

 

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