Assorted links

by on January 7, 2012 at 3:51 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Tyler Brûlé visits New Zealand and Australia.

2. Wilkinson on Rogoff and growth, although Will is closer than he thinks to the view he calls nutty, in fact he seems to hold it!

3. Does the narcissism of a CEO matter?, and the paper is here.

4. Rachel Strohm on development education at SAIS.

5. Economists who are gathering information on what other economists think, and why they are doing it.

Andrew1 January 7, 2012 at 4:58 pm

Agreed with the sentiments in #1. Australians needs to spend less time advertising ‘the outback’ and more time talking about their cities, their suburbs, their food and how their middle class has the best standard of living anywhere in the world.

CBBB January 7, 2012 at 6:06 pm

What food? Kangaroo Steaks and Alligator pie?

CBBB January 7, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Vegemite?! Shrimp on the BARBEE?

Deman January 7, 2012 at 7:32 pm

As an ex-melbournite, I can attest to the quality and variety of local culinary. Large scale skilled immigration is the likely culprit (Saxons, Greeks, Lebanese, Italians, Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese, Indians, Thais, Malaysians etc)!

CBBB January 7, 2012 at 7:39 pm

Yeah but those aren’t Australian

Deman January 7, 2012 at 7:45 pm

I am sure the visitors/tourists (focus of the article) won’t mind that the food they have in the italian or chinese quarter is not ‘Australian’. Not everyone goes to Scotland/India primarily to eat Scottish or Indian food – its the overall experience.

CBBB January 7, 2012 at 7:48 pm

Oh I don’t make a habit of reading the links before commenting

Careless January 7, 2012 at 9:44 pm

well, yes, but you can’t keep on talking about all those and your middle class at the same time

Deman January 7, 2012 at 10:08 pm


The middle class includes recent immigrants, in fact, immigrants perform significantly better as they are sorted for skill/education through the skilled migration program combined with the low unemployment rate. Note unlike US/Europe – the level of illegal immigration (correlated with skill levels) is very low. This is primarily luck though – geographical isolation and no land borders.

CBBB January 7, 2012 at 6:07 pm

It’s another natural resource boom country – nothing to brag about, these people didn’t work for it they just ran around throwing boomerangs and wresting crocodiles and one day happened across some shiny metals.

Deman January 7, 2012 at 7:39 pm

There are lots of resource countries including Australia (where the resource boom is a more recent phenomenon). Not all resource countries however enjoy one of the highest qualities of living standards both from an economic and non-economic perspectives including quality universal health care, tertiary education and relatively responsible and cost effective governance. Look it up.

CBBB January 7, 2012 at 7:43 pm

G’day Mate

Deman January 7, 2012 at 7:50 pm

Cheers mate! Did I mention we smash everyone in the sports we play? Except soccer :(

CBBB January 7, 2012 at 9:13 pm

As far as I can tell it’s just another Canada but with nicer beaches.

kiwi dave January 8, 2012 at 2:18 pm


Bollocks to that. We’re world champs in Rugby League and Rugby Union. And we’re coming back in cricket: remember Hobart!

anon January 7, 2012 at 5:17 pm

4. Rachel Strohm on development education at SAIS.

From that post: “the fallacy of assuming that poverty somehow stripped people of agency”

If only the neo-imperialists all over the world could be disabused of this assumption.

JWatts January 9, 2012 at 11:47 am

“A bit of background here. I studied international development in undergrad as well, at Dartmouth’s geography department, which (among the human geographers) largely espouses a critical geography approach. ”

WTH is Critical geography?

Definition: The umbrella term for a varied, and varying, group of geographical concepts and procedures centred on opposition to repressive and inequitable power relations: in capitalism, class, colonialism, disability, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexuality. As such, critical geographers stress the role of dominance and confrontation in the production and reproduction of landscape, place, and space. Critical geographers have also turned their attentions to inequalities within academic geography and its learned societies, recognizing the exclusionary nature of both.

*headslap* That term is Orwellian in nature.
‘geographical concepts and procedures centred on opposition to repressive and inequitable power relations’. There are certainly geographical constraints to power relations, but to label this ‘critical geography’ is a little absurd.
Why not just call it Geopolitics? Since apparently the entire subject matter seems to be politics and it has very little to do with actual geography. What’s with the academic ‘new speak’ that is taking over rational thought processes?

Kaganovich January 7, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Who goes to graduate school to “fill gaps in knowledge”?? Especially an MA program, and especially SAIS in dc. It’s prestige and networking only. She can pretend that wasn’t why she went there. Or she could have downloaded any curriculum and read books in her bedroom.

Worse than the prestige and status schemers are those that go to the same schools and act surprised or pretend that wasn’t why they went there.

CBBB January 7, 2012 at 8:02 pm

You can say this about a lot of degree programs – any liberal arts program can be easily learned on your own

Cliff January 8, 2012 at 3:11 pm

What, like acting?

CBBB January 9, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Acting? What?

Jay January 7, 2012 at 6:21 pm

“Second, editorial boards don’t want wishy-washy, hedged opinions. As a result, op-ed pages are more likely to publish someone advocating an unequivocal position than someone who offers a more nuanced argument.”

Couldn’t have explained the NYT and Krugman better myself.

anon January 7, 2012 at 7:16 pm

(@Jay is quoting from the article linked at 5.)

Also sounds like most think tanks and all “do tanks”.

See “Devaluing the Think Tank” at

JWatts January 9, 2012 at 11:41 am


Paul Johnson January 7, 2012 at 8:10 pm

5. I don’t get it. The Wisdom of Crowds works well if you’re trying to guess the weight of a cow, or give the answer to “The volcano known as Eyjafjallajokull is closest to what Icelandic city?”. Mushing a big committee together to get an opinion about the future? If you put these economists together they probably couldn’t agree on what to have for lunch.

y81 January 7, 2012 at 8:23 pm

2. I think Wilkinson’s paper is confusingly written, as it isn’t clear when he is giving the other side’s arguments, and when he is giving his own. But if you read carefully, he is arguing that high economic growth is very, very important, and the less you know about the future, the more important it is.

Matt January 7, 2012 at 8:59 pm

The claim Wilkinson is calling nutty is the idea that there should be 0 discounting of future lives/wellbeing. Ironically, this is the claim he is implicitly adopting when he argues that levels of economic wellbeing in the far future are “really really” important. If you have a modest discount rate, then the importance of substantial differences in gdp per capita 150 years from now don’t really matter so much.

The fact that he doesn’t know which positions he is taking–including implicitly adopting viewpoints he labels “nutty”–all while taking a fairly hysterical tone towards Ken Rogoff, is sort of an embarrassment. Robin Hanson made a similar argument to Rogoff’s on his blog a few days ago, where he talked about the human race becoming more risk averse as it continues climbing the “ladder” of wellbeing. Its a serious point, whether right or wrong, and suffice it to say that WW is out of his league here.

vt January 7, 2012 at 11:25 pm

“I think this is nutty, but let’s go with it. Under the right circumstances, a zero discount rate can lead to the strongest possible growth imperative.”

by “implicit” did you mean “explicit”?

Matt January 7, 2012 at 11:51 pm

Nope. The “nutty” part means he doesn’t literally agree. The “lets go with it” part means he’s entertaining the idea for the sake of argument, or as a thought experiment. It’s implicit because, despite both of these disclaimers, the very low discount rate is actually at the heart of his main argument.

Cliff January 8, 2012 at 3:13 pm

No, I don’t think so. What difference does the discount rate make for his argument?

R Wood January 9, 2012 at 11:21 am


It seems to me that you have the future-discount effect backwards.

You wrote, “If you have a modest discount rate, then the importance of substantial differences in gdp per capita 150 years from now don’t really matter so much.”

As I’m used to using the terms, and as Wilkinson clearly is using them, a HIGH discount rate means that you care less about different growth rates in the future, and a LOW discount means that you should care a lot.

JWatts January 9, 2012 at 11:59 am

This is Wilkinson’s conclusion:
‘But as far as we know, it’s not self-defeating. As far as we know, growth is instrumental to health, happiness, longevity, the development of basic and not-so-basic human capacities, and peace. As far as we know, nothing does as much good.’

That statement is very hard to disagree with. We have a world of evidence that high growth rate countries tend to be better areas to live in than low growth rates countries. The evidence that slowing growth would lead to a better world is pretty circumstantial. The evidence that high growth has historically led to a better world is substantial.

Rich Berger January 8, 2012 at 7:05 am

2. How many readers would WW get if Tyler didn’t link to him?

3. It certainly does matter when it’s the US CEO. Only one more year, thank God.

david January 8, 2012 at 12:33 pm

WW’s a columnist for The Economist, so his effective readership might be larger compared to Marginal Revolution.

For his blog, well, he doesn’t care enough to fix his blog software, so who knows.

Bogwood January 8, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Will Wilkinson is probably smart enough to recognize that all growth stops. Growth is a false trail, as the hash house harriers say. So what is his agenda and how much potential for deceit or fraud? Being from Missouri should be a positive. A philosophy degree a mild negative. Cato institute a negative? Maybe when taking such a radical view there should be full financial disclosure. Has someone slipped him a coffee cup or new pen to promote the obviously flawed growth alternative?

Cliff January 8, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Well, we haven’t reached the end of time yet, so who is to say?

JWatts January 9, 2012 at 12:05 pm

“Will Wilkinson is probably smart enough to recognize that all growth stops”

Well yes, that’s an axiom of physics usually codified as the ‘Second law of thermodynamics’. So we should definitely consider this in the long run, sometime in the next 10**90 years. But I suggest we procrastinate for the next billion years or so. Since, that’s the equivalent of going to the coffee pot to get a cup of coffee.

kiwi dave January 8, 2012 at 2:13 pm

No. 1: so glad Tyler Brûlé went to Great Barrier Island. It is truly amazing place that is totally off the tourist radar and even out of the consciousness of most Kiwis. Can’t for the life of me understand why: it’s only a half hour flight or 2.5 hour ferry ride from Auckland. Absolute gem: virgin forests, mountains, untouched beaches. Largely undeveloped, too: no mains electricity (everyone has their own generator and septic tank). But utterly stunning. Just the flight over (in a little Britten Norman Islander) is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

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