by Tyler Cowen
on September 17, 2013 at 12:36 pm
1. Peak names, and the half-life of Shaquille.
2. How many jobs are vulnerable to automation? And Jim Olds on Average is Over. And me on Washington Post TV. “Average is Over, Boys and Girls.”
3. An hour of myself, and then with Joseph Stiglitz in the second half, on inequality.
4. Guelph family lives like its 1986.
5. Why did the Indian economy stagnate under British rule?
6. Chinese live crab vending machines.
7. Mosaicism (very interesting).
Um, there were computers in 1986.
Yeah but only an Apple Plus or a VAX
There was also the Apple IIe with a wide variety of games, including my favorites, Karateka, Lode Runner and Choplifter.
The guy in the 1986 family was just looking for an excuse to grow a mustache and a mullet. It’s also hilarious that he is wearing a modern Blue Jays jersey–it should be of Dave Stieb, Fred McGriff or George Bell. Also, as someone who lived through 1986, I promise that baseball games were broadcast over live, including cable, television. No need to listen to the game by radio.
When this was making the rounds a couple of weeks ago, my friends and I got a laugh from it. What’s funny is these two apparently can’t use the modern conveniences supplied to them. How hard would it be to look up this stuff on the nearest Google machine? They seem to have confused 1986 with 1936. But, it has put them on TV and the Interwebs, thus fulfilling their destiny as post-modern humans.
That guy reminds me of another great Canadian, Bruce McCulloch, from Kids in the Hall.
True, my family got cable in 1982 with a wide array of baseball, including Cubs (WGN) and Braves (TBS). Just standard def though, ouch. HBO and MTV were available, including mostly music videos on the latter.
Why are the Chinese vending machines in yen?
The Y stands for Yuan, the denominational unit for RMB (which literally means “people’s currency”).
Yuan, yen, and won all share the same etymology. The word means “round” and comes from Spanish silver dollars.
They’re not, they are in yuan. Same symbol.
Is it normal to have both the symbol and the word? Seems kind of like saying $25 dollars.
Never would have thought that ginger tea was an appropriate pairing for crab.
Loved this bit;
“Shi built a “Crab Villa,” a multi-tired box designed to make crabs feel like they’re in a cave. Shi says he came up with this idea one day, long after hairy crab season had ended, when he found a crab hiding under his sofa.”
My favorite radio host and my favorite blogger?! Life is too good.
Don’t read the comments, LOL!
The book only has 3 Amazon stars thus far (5 votes, but it’s questionable if all 5 voters read the book). I think 3 stars sounds about right for the over-under on Amazon. Any bets?
TC handles a hostile situation more smoothly than anyone out there.
#7 — I would like to know the ramifications of mosiacism in skewing DNA test results in criminal law contexts as well as civil law (inheritance and immigration).
Could a “mosiac” or “chimera” person be falsely found guilty of a henious crime, based on DNA evidence? Or perhaps more likely, might some evade justice with their own DNA?
No. All chimeras are closely related to each other. So your scenario is only valid when relatives as an alternative suspect is an option. And even that is easily tested with merely more markers.
Greg Clark explored this pretty deeply in Farewell To Alms. Looking at explanations for why the colonies of European powers didn’t industrialize like their home bases. Barriers to trade and capital movement were even lower than today, and colonial legal systems were more hospitable for investment from domestic counterparts.
The conclusion pretty clearly was the cultural difference between British and Indian workers. British workers had better work ethic, showed up to their shifts on time, whereas Indian workers would show late or not at all, send their relatives to work in their place and take breaks whenever they felt like it. Based on that I’d say the change in Indian growth rates is technological, not political. Modern industrial and IT technology allows for managers to more monitor their employees, nipping bad habits in the bud and quickly firing bad workers. That makes it easier to run a sweatshop in a low work ethic country in modern times.
No. That doesn’t explain the rapid shift to higher, albeit so-called “Hindu” growth rates following independence and then the post-reform surge since 1991.
Is it really accurate to say the Indian economy stagnated under British rule? Upon looking at the graph found in the link, we see an ongoing slight decline in Indian per capita GDP from 1600 to 1750 when British rule began. That decline continued throughout the early part of the Raj 1750-1880. After that point, the Indian economy began to pick up and improve – but not that much.
Looks to me that this decline/stagnation occurred well before British controlled India, and the decline was reversed after the British began managing India directly after the Sepoy Mutiny. Indeed, the author even states this himself in the link.
Instead, we have a long term decline in Indian per capita GDP for reasons that have nothing to do with the British. If we extended this line even farther into the past, we’d probably see about the same trend – a more or less stable GDP per capita with very slight increases or very slight decreases balancing out over the century. India had a lot of wealth – but it all went to the people at the top. Ordinary Indians were in a Malthusian trap.
When the British began colonizing India, they initially left most of the country as is. Once direct British rule began, they began making investments in India that slowly reversed the trend. The Great Depression and WWII briefly interrupted this, but after the war ended and India gained its independence, the growth revived. The trendline from 1890-1980 seems about the same. It is not until India approved real market reforms in 1990 or so that growth skyrockets.
There are probably lots of things the British can be blamed for, but Indian stagnation was not one of them as prior to the arrival of the British, the native Indian rulers (whether Hindu or Muslim) presided over the same problems. The only difference is that the British eventually did something about it.
Look again. GDP growth rates between circa 1950 and 1991 were considerably faster than that during direct British rule, which anyway began well before 1890.
It all depends on how you want to cut the trendline. I took the level of growth that started around 1890 and lasted until 1920 or so. If I kept that trendline static, it would intersect with Indian until about 1980 or so. Obviously that ignores stagnation and decline in the mid-period, but that is the era of the Great Depression and World War II. Then Indian GDP per capita after independence falls even more, but that is the period during the Partition and war with Pakistan. All that time was extremely disruptive or depressive for reasons that don’t have to deal with British governance. After it bottoms out, it does increase dramatically. So if you divide the trend into three areas (initial British direct rule 1857-1920, the disruptions of the protests movements, depression, war and partition 1920-1950, and stable Indian growth 1950-1980), you can make the distinctions you made. If you want to factor in the disruptions/depression at the end of British rule, you should also factor in the disruptions that happened immediately after independence.
However, I am always very reluctant to attribute higher growths in the first thrity year postwar period to anything special about governance in that country alone. The thirty year period after the end of World War II saw astounding economic growth everywhere in the world regardless of what that country did. The country could be capitalist (US), socialist (Sweden), fascist (Spain), corrupt democracy (Italy), corrupt one party rule (Mexico), Communist (Soviet Union), newly decolonized (any number of African countries whether pursuing a capitalist or socialist model), or anything else – growth boomed. This makes me very skeptical that there was anything special about independence that accelerated growth. Most likely, even if India had remained part of the Empire, they would have seen greater growth.
Talks about the rate growth in the period of the British Raj and the independence era also hides the other big factor that must be mentioend. India per capita GDP was stagnating long before the British ever arrived. If the British inherited stagnation, then they can’t be the cause of it.
It’s entirely possible that after having kicked India back into per capita growth, that the new government improved that rate faster than the British would have. However, after one looks at all the facts, I don’t think the initial growth rates of India are all that impressive compared to the British.
of course I am using very much rule of thumb here. I am going by a small graph in the article, not doing number crunching.
India was basically a Malthusian society during the colonial times, any improvement was eaten up by increased population, so maintaining GDP per head pretty constant. This was evident as there were still major famines during the British rule period. In fact large parts of Indian society is still like this, you can see subsistence farmers farming in the same way as they did 1,000 years ago, even close to major cities.
I have always wondered why, given the size of India, Britain during the first and second world wars did not expand the ship building industry there, instead of buying ships from the US. Britain was desperately in need of ships to replace the ones sunk by the German subs, but instead of building up a ship building industry in India, they went to the US instead. There was plentiful cheap labor in India and ship building technology is not exactly the most difficult to master. I don’t know if there were supply constrains, but iron ore, the most major material, could have been obtained easily from Australia. Similarly with other war materials. Britain never seemed to consider India as a potential supplier, even though it was one of the most populous countries in the world at the time.
(a) A substantial part of colonial policy administration was to _prevent_ the development of industries in India which might compete with the UK;
(b) Shipbuilding is not as simple as it sounds, and requires quite a bit of supporting infrastructure;
(c) The US already had substantial shipyards ready to go
(d) The US provided _financing_ for the ships, often practically giving them away (“lend-lease”), which India was not in a position to do
(e) The shipping route from the US is much closer than from India, which would have either involved going all the way round Africa or through bottlenecks at Gibraltar and the Suez canal where it could easily have been sunk.
a) do you have a reference for this policy? I would have thought that the British state was not monolithic enough to prevent investment in industries by private individuals. Greg Clark gives plenty of examples where investment in India was tried by entrepreneurs during the British Raj, but low productivity meant that even with the low wages, they were not successful. Even if there was such a specific policy, do you not think this would have been waived given the dire straights that the UK was in at least in the 2nd world war? Certainly the UK had to give away a lot to the US as you mention, were the UK really that protective of their industry that they would rather give away their empire to the US? Finally, a moments reflection would suggest that this wasn’t even a good idea, since buying from the US means building up a competitor that they had less control over.
b) Shipbuilding, of the type of ships we are talking about, is fairly simple. The British certainly had expertise in this area (the Clyde was still a massive ship building area) that could easily been exported. Once you have the plans, it is mostly welding. Design once, build many. Dry docks and cranes were not difficult to build.
c) Do you really think that the US had idle shipyards ready to go for the vastly increased demand? Even if they did, new ship yards are very quick to build.
d) I agree on financing, but why didn’t they at least try to raise the production of material in India? They controlled a vast country, with more people than the US.
c) Agree on the length of the route, but that is a one time cost,as ships are designed to be used many times, I would not have thought that a significant factor. Planes for instance were manufactured in Australia during the war, and flown to the UK.
It is often alleged that the British conspired against Indian industry, and perhaps in the early days they did. But by 1900 that was clearly not the case. The Tata empire got all the support it could want from the British Indian government. They imposed protective tarrifs to protect the infant industry in things like steel for instance.
The Indians had a lot of experience in ship building. Remember a lot of the trade of the British Empire was carried on Indian-built ships. In fact I think the longest surviving British sailing ship still afloat was built in India. Of course that was back in the days of timber and sail. However a lot of industries were built up in India during the War. Hindustan Aircraft for instance, got its start, with the help of the Indian administration and a local Rajah, in 1940 due to the war. So did Hindustan Motors. Even Tata Motors.
As for ship building, India came out of WW2 with a sizeable modern industrial base. With the help of former Nazi scientists, they were able to become one of the first countries to build an “indigenous” jet fighter for instance. That HAL the British helped build. Shipping would have been much easier.
A substantial part of colonial policy administration was to _prevent_ the development of industries in India which might compete with the UK
Preventing home grown industry not owned by the politically influential capitalist classes back home would be believable, but the colonial policy being to prevent British firms (or capitalists) expanding ownership and industry there if all conditions were equal except wages were lower, or higher levels of tax could be extracted, seems not.
So probably the reason for lack of expansion by British industry there was lack of skills and supply chains, i.e. infrastructure and worker ability, which conditions were not set by the colonial administration, rather than different cultural histories.
“ship building technology is not exactly the most difficult to master”
I think you underrate the difficulty and infrastructure needed to build a WW-era ship. Just getting the furnaces / lathes / large steam cranes etc. up and running would take a few years, a luxury not available during the war era.
We can never know those reasons for sure, but we can say that since 1997, Kobe has been the name of choice for parents opting to name their children after basketball players.
No. We can’t say that. Some basketball players actually have common first names. How do we know how many kids named “Chris” or “Kevin” were named for NBA stars?
Or the more obvious: “Michael” or “Jordan”
Right. Michael was the most popular baby boy’s name in America for much of MJ’s career. His fame added to the popularity of Michael, but was more of a bonus. Michael is a good traditional name _and_ the top athletic hero shares that name, so it’s all good.
In contrast, did Tiger Woods’ decade of popularity elevate Tiger much in the baby name lists? Americans aren’t that celebrity-oriented in baby names.
Tiger lent his name to Asian mothers.
1. Both Stiglitz and Tyler seemed to agree that rising inequality is something happening across the world with roughly equal force. Their apparent unanimity undermined what I’ve read from some journos/econs about the trend being minimal in Germany and some other places. 2. I wish Tyler engaged with Stiglitz’s point about those at the top being top-heavy with rent seekers, instead of having invented the laser, transistor, etc. 3. I would have liked to have seen more debate around Tyler’s contention that the US will never have as much equality as the Nordic countries because it is not as “homogenous,” which neither Ashbrook nor Stiglitz seemed willing to unpack.
I am guessing that Blair and Morgan were raised by married parents. So they have missed the central feature of their own childhoods.
My recollection is that Onrtario has common law marriage so these two might be married after all.
Yeah, I went there too, we’re going to mimic everything about the 80s, including moving to an entirely new house and buying all new furniture, but we’re going to retain the very un-80s lifestyle of raising kids as boyfriend and girlfriend.
“Guelph family lives like its 1986.” Oh dear, what are the Ghibellines going to do about that?
With regard to mosaicism, here is one of the interesting suggestions about its relation to homosexuality:
A very low hanging fruit to test, too – if only anyone could bother (and be funded to do it)
#3. Best part of the interview: Tom Ashbrook scolding Tyler for being a dispassionate scientist.
Oh boy, as if we need more hotheaded commentators in the public discourse!
Between 1750 and 1850 we didn’t exactly have British rule in India!!
The East India company was dominant in certain parts of the country – Madras region, Bengal, Bombay area. But hardly a strong pan-Indian governing power. It was one of the several players in a disintegrating country.
British rule in the real sense began in 1857. Between 1857 and 1914, there was real economic growth. Even the stats bear this out. It was not dramatic, but there was growth.
Regarding post Independence growth –
All over the world growth rates post 1950 have been much much higher than in the last century – including US/UK/Japan. Economies worldwide obtained the escape velocity to grow fast. It just happened to coincide with the process of decolonization.
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