That is my latest column for Bloomberg, here is one bit from it:
In other words, a country can experience hundreds of years of bad events, but if it succeeds in attaching itself to a benevolent, moderately competent protector, it still can have a fantastic future of peace and prosperity, even if it does not stand on the global cutting edge.
If Macedonia doesn’t make it into the EU, it is not difficult to envision a future where the country ends up being picked apart by a variety of pressures from Russia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Albania and Greece, in some unknown combination. Keep in mind that an independent Macedonian nation has existed for only a few decades over the course of many centuries, and so its continuing existence cannot be taken for granted.
But when it comes to economic development, don’t just look at demographics or economic policy. Ponder the hegemon.
I wish to thank J. and P. for conversations that spurred some of these thoughts.