Links for the Week Ending 12th May

  • Most of the articles dealing with Niall Ferguson’s comments on Keynes are light weight and not worth the bother of reading, but this article in American Prospect via The Browser goes a little deeper. And if you want to give the subject even more respect, then I highly recommend a paper by David Blanchflower, former member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, who wrote an insightful and important paper in 2004 called “Money, Sex and Happiness: An Empirical Study”. Economics, sex and happiness may appear strange bedfellows (pun, of course, intended), but they really aren’t.
  • A few weeks back, The Economist did a piece on climate sensitivity that got a lot of things right but also a lot of things wrong. Nonetheless, I thought Skeptical Science’s original riposte by Dana Nuccitelli lacked subtlety since it questioned why The Economist was looking a climate science at all. Given that The Economist is, in effect, the house magazine of the English-speaking global corporate, financial and political elite, I would think its coverage of the subject should be welcomed. Further, Nuccitelli didn’t realize that The Economist‘s deputy editor, Emma Duncan, has been covering the subject for decades—and in a far more serious and sympathetic manner than almost all the rest of the Anglo-Saxon business press. Anyway, Nuccitelli has followed up with a much better article: a climate sensitivity 101 for The Guardian. Well worth a read.
  • Staying with The Economist, last week’s issue had a long article titled “Generation Jobless” on global youth unemployment.  While the author did touch on the impact that disruptive technology was having on the job market, it still gave top billing to a) lack of growth, b) job cartels and c) poor links between education and work. Personally, I think they have the problem the wrong way around. Technology and resource constraints are the reason for a lack of growth, particularly in advanced countries, so governments have to create labour policies that take low growth as a given. Further, as The Economist points out,  “new technology is unleashing a storm of “disruptive innovation” which is forcing firms to rethink their operations from the ground up. Companies are constantly redesigning work—for example they are separating routine tasks (which can be automated or contracted out) from skilled jobs. They are also constantly redesigning themselves by “upsizing”, “downsizing” and “contracting out”. Against this background, I believe the state will have to take a far more interventionist path with regard to employment, otherwise all hell will eventually break loose.
  • The social geographer Danny Dorling has a wonderful article in this week’s New Statesman (part of a special on Britain’s ruling elite) running the numbers on the changing concentration of wealth in the U.K, but unfortunately it is not available online. However, Dorling’s past articles, lectures and papers are available at his University of Sheffield web page here and include some cracking data visualisation graphics; for example, here and here. Meanwhile, Simon Kuper in The Financial Times dissects the French elite here.
  • And The Observer charts the rise and rise of London, the home of the global elite, as it continues to detach itself from the rest of the U.K.

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