What I’ve been reading

1. Santiago Levy, Under-Rewarded Efforts: The Elusive Quest for Prosperity in Mexico.  Probably the best current book on Mexico’s economy and why it has not grown more rapidly.  Most of all, Levy blames misallocation, and more specifically the attachment of too many workers to the low-productivity informal sector.  The author notes (p.34) that both the top 20 percent of the wage distribution, or even the top 1 percent, saw no wage growth from 1996 to 2015.

2. Sriya Iyer, The Economics of Religion in India.  A useful survey, which delivers on what the title promises.

3. Howard Sounes, Fab: An Intimate Life of Paul McCartney.  One of my favorite biographies, this book is also excellent on outlining the history of the Beatles (and subsequent McCartney groups) as problems in the theory and practice of management.  I now have ordered the author’s other books on music history.

4. Jeffrey D. Sachs, A New Foreign Policy: Beyond American Exceptionalism.  This book is somewhat less radical than I had been expecting, mostly concentrating on the potential gains from multilateralism, international cooperation, and international law.  Or is that the truly radical view?

5. Roger Scruton, Music as an Art.  The chapter on Schubert is the highlight, and perhaps the best explanation of that composer’s beauty and importance.  The book is otherwise high variance, with the remarks on morals and aesthetic philosophy much weaker.  At times he pops open an insight when it is least expected, such as on heavy metal music: “In the realm of pop they were the modernists, undergoing in their own way that revolution against kitsch and cliche that had set Schoenberg and Adorno on the path towards 12-tone serialism.”

Helene Rosenblatt, The Lost History of Liberalism: From Ancient Rome to the Twenty-First Century, presents liberals as moralists and debunks the notion of liberalism as so exclusively an Anglo-American phenomenon.

Dean Keith Simonton, The Genius Checklist: Nine Paradoxical Tips on How You! Can Become a Creative Genius, is a popularization of some of his earlier research on genius and creative achievement.

Notable is Stephen L. Carter’s new biography of his grandmother, Invisible: The Forgotten Story of the Black Woman Lawyer Who Took Down America’s Most Powerful Mobster.


The three unnumbered books aren't being read yet, or have they already been liberated?

Very great information can be found on site.

1. Wages dead in Mexico since 1995. So where did NAFTA work?

NAFTA helped Mexico, but not enough to offset competition from China.

+ 1 x hella

this is an undertold story in English. Cowen's Law says there is a literature, but I am a doofy researcher. God bless Dani Rodrik

bien pensants only accepted that China trade might possibly be net bad for a noteworthy chunk of US after strong Trump and Sanders campaigns, the 'deaths of despair' papers, the Autor paper

3rd world manufacturing probably less complementary, more directly equivalent with China's than was US manufacturing 1999 - now.

3rd word probably more dépendent on manufacturing for growth and employment than US 1999 - now

crucial subjective factors for utilitarians:
1. China life expectancy and other measures of well-being probably better before growth than those of many tropical countries devastated by Chinese competition. China probably helped less in these areas than other unwealthy countries would have been
2. China's military quickening, perhaps accelerated by global trade inclusion, may raise threat of big, big wars
3. militating the other way - concentration of gains from trade in China may improve the possibility of aggregate human technical progress, including by stimulating security expenditure and industrial realism in technically excellent countries like Russia, US, Japan, India, Germany, and France

I wonder if Helene Rosenblatt’s “The lost story of liberalism” included the 1988 event of the Basel Accord? That accord, for the risk weighted capital requirements for banks the regulators concocted, decreed a risk weight of 0% for some sovereigns and 100% for their citizens. That sure must be a moment when liberalism thoroughly go lost.

5) Would love some commentary fleshing out this phrase "with the remarks on morals and aesthetic philosophy much weaker". In general, how do we judge remarks on morals and aesthetic philosophy? Is his argument not logical? What is it that's wrong?

I haven't read this book and probably don't have time for it, but its a question I've always struggled with- how do we judge another persons morals or aesthetics? Is it completely subjective? In which case why should I care what Tyler, or anybody else for that matter, thinks?

Scruton is a combative, articulate British conservative. Tyler isn't?

6. There is nothing that could be Liberalism that runs from Ancient Rome to the 21st century. Liberalism as political theory stops being even a potential subject if you get much before 1600, if then.

You can't even let women into history. They'll re-arrange text to make themselves feel comfortable there as well.

Helena not Helene Rosenblatt, apparently. Sorry to pick a nit.

Mexico has been held back by the scarring influence of the 1994 peso crisis which makes banks and financial institutions very wary to give credit to private sector businesses.

I’m not sure one can trust the official “wage” data from Mexico to given an accurate view of how the 1% have fared there the last two decades. Examining the vaults at UBS and Credit Suisse May be more enlightening.

The impressive thing is that you were able to find two non-fiction tomes without a colon in the title

Simonton has written on genius for quite some time. That sounds like a re-hash of better, earlier works.

By far the best book I have ever encountered on the creative process, including a view on what might distinguish processes 'of genius' from those more typical, is Jacob E. Goetzals and Mihalyi Csikszentmihali. 1976. The Creative Vision: Longitudinal Study of Problem Finding in Art. Not only are the findings of their research program revealing, and to a degree available for learning, but the entire work is one of the finest examples of research design I have ever had the pleasure to read (most are anything but a pleasure to read), which I think you would enjoy as much for this as for the content. Their determinations have had a considerable effect on my own conscious process of research. Really, one of the great books, and I'm amazed at how few people have read it. Although hardly anyone reads quality academic research outside of narrow disciplinary communities, so there's that . . . .

The lack of interest by at least some Mexicans In leaving the low-productivity sector might be due to still low wages in the higher productivity sector but much worse quality of life.

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