Links for Week Ending 14th April

  • Ugo Bardi’s blog has a post on Jorgen Randers’ and his book 2052. Randers was one of the original authors of the much misquoted 1972 book “The Limits to Growth” (see my post here). He appears to have gone through all the DABDA stages to reach a resigned acceptance of a pessimistic future. And I thought I could be gloomy. 
  • But then again not as gloomy as his co-author Dennis Meadows: here.
  • As someone who used to lurk at the bottom of the hedge fund food chain, it has always been a psychological boost to know that there are some persons at the apex of the food chain who share my concerns over the threat posed by climate change. One such person is Jeremy Grantham, Chief Strategist of GMO, who has never been afraid to put the investment game into a proper perspective. At its most basic, this means asking the question: “What is the point of out-performing your benchmark over many years (and amassing gazillions of dollars) if your children have a significant likelihood of frying?” (To me, not asking this question, is the moral equivalent of the concentration camp commandant who leads his own kids into the gas chamber.) Read Grantham’s interview here in The Guardian.
  • Cyprus is important because it shows the precarious nature of the power relationship between the state and its citizens in a globalized economy. Governments have, for many reasons, often decided to appropriate the wealth of individuals, but in the modern era this has been usually done by stealth; in other words, by inflation or progressive taxation. But in this particular case, one day you woke up to find that what was yours was theirs. And even that which remained yours (under the €100,000 deposit insurance limit), has become stuck within one geographical zone due to capital controls. Look and learn. A good starting point is Pawel Morski’s blog “It’s Not That Simple” to show you how the smart money knew many months ago that the writing was on the wall for a blatant money grab of the trusting money’s wealth.
  • I’ve already blogged (here) that Thatcher’s growth record was mixed, and here is another look at the data suggesting that the productivity record was also patchy (here). And another slice of the data here. And Krugman putting Thatcher’s record up against the dreaded French here. In all of this, we are in a world of counterfactuals. What Thatcher did (which I certainly would not deny) is make the labour market more flexible. I can see the legacy of this everyday in my home town of Henley, with its United Nations of youth staffing its pubs and cafes (with Brits very much in the minority). But was this an unstoppable trend due to globalization anyway? And could we have got from A to B a different way? Tough one to tell.
  • If, like me, you enjoying grazing over the writings of left and right with the hope that your preconceptions will be challenged, then I recommend Owen Jones’ book “Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class“. Given the existential crisis within neoliberalism since the 2007/08 credit crunch, Owen asks why the left has failed to respond with a coherent alternative (here). Why indeed?

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