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Tag Archives: Economics – General

Cutting the financial sector down to size

That’s the provisional title I used for my latest piece in Inside Story. Peter Browne, the editor, gave it the longer and clearer title “Want to reduce the power of the finance sector? Start by looking at climate change”. The central idea is a comparison between the process of decarbonizing the world economy and that of definancialising it, by reducing the power and influence of the financial sector. Both seemed almomst impossible only a decade ago, but the first is now well under...

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Adani’s silent partners

A month after Adani got the final approvals for its Carmichael mine, it’s still hard to work out what’s going on with Adani and the Galilee Basin in general. Adani has been making a fair bit of noise, but the project still seems to consist of tree clearing and road building. To get past this stage, and without significant in-house experience of major projects, Adani needs partners: engineering design firms, construction contractors, and so on. And even if no external funding is...

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A message from the recent past

That’s the headline from my latest piece in Inside Story, in Libra, Facebook’s newly announced cryptocurrency. Opening and closing paras below Facebook’s announcement that it is launching a #cryptocurrency called Libra raises two questions. Will Libra compete with the most famous cryptocurrency, #Bitcoin ? And what is a cryptocurrency anyway? …Ultimately, the crucial part of the name is “crypto.” What Bitcoin and Libra have in common is a desire to avoid the constraints of...

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Can globalization be reversed (wonkish)

The term “globalization” came into widespread use in the 1990s, about the same time as Fukuyama’s End of History. As that timing suggests, globalization was presented as an unstoppable force, which would break down borders of all kinds allowing goods, ideas, people and especially capital to move freely around the world. The main focus was on financial markets, and the assumption was that only market liberal institutions would survive. The first explicit reaction against...

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Keynes and Versailles, 100 years on

The 100th anniversary of the Treaty of Versailles is coming back. I have a piece in The National Interest which ran under the headline (selected by the subeditor, as is usual), America Needs to Reexamine Its Wartime Relationships. Keynes first came to public attention with his critique of the Versailles Settlement, The Economic Consequences of the Peace, whith foreshadowed, in important respects, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money. I argue that the rise, fall...

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Why would a billionaire persist with Adani when it will probably lose money?

That’s the title of my latest piece in The Conversation, republished on the ABC website. Possible answers So what could be going on? Perhaps Gautam Adani is willing to lose a large share of his wealth simply to show he can’t be pushed around. Alternatively, as on numerous previous occasions, his promises of an imminent start to work may prove to be baseless.The third, and most worrying, possibility is that the political pressure to deliver the promised Adani jobs will lead to...

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Eye of the needle, again (crosspost from Crooked Timber)

The US college admissions scandal is rolling on, seemingly endlessly. There’s been a lot of discussion of moral decay, hypocrisy and more. But no one seems to have mentioned the central point. The number of places in the Ivy League and similar schools has remained almost unchanged for decades, even as the demand for those places has been swelled by a wide range of factors, most notably by the growth in all forms of inequality, which is mediated in part by unequal access to education....

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Pinker polymathic

The New York Times has a piece pushing the idea that nuclear power is the solution to our environmental problems. It’s familiar stuff, citing the French success in the 1970s, the promise of Gen IV and small modular reactors, and so on. Indeed, two of the authors had an almost identical piece in the Wall Street Journal in January. What’s most interesting is that the set of authors[1] this time includes Steven Pinker, who seems to be spreading his claims to expertise yet more...

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What’s happening to the Australian Dairy Industry

I just recorded a radio interview for ABC Toowoomba on the dairy farmers’ campaign against supermarkets selling milk for $1. Here are my notes for the discussion Consumer prices have increased 20 per cent since 2010, when the milk price was $1.30/litre, so to maintain the real price, the current price would have to be around $1.56. Dairy producers in Australia have been under continuous pressure to increase herd size and reduce costs, with those unable to do so having to leave...

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Monopoly: too big to ignore

That’s the headline given to my latest piece in Inside Story Here’s the opening para Two hundred years after the birth of Karl Marx and fifty years after the last Western upsurge of revolutionary ferment in 1968, the term “monopoly capitalism” might seem like a relic of outmoded enthusiasms. But economists are increasingly coming to the view that monopolies, and associated market failures, have never been a bigger problem. and the conclusion The problems of monopoly and...

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