Tuesday assorted links


#6 Argentinians will be Argentinians. Macri is just the latest of a long line of "free market reformers" who promise the world they can make something else out of Argentinians.

Argentina is a test case for how lazy culture can destroy a vibrant economy. At one point over 100 years ago they were richer than many countries, certainly Italy, on a per capita basis; now they're a basket case (Italy well ahead, and Greece). The obverse is South Korea, which in the early 1960s was at African GDP/capita levels, but now a powerhouse. To me, the interesting thing is that the Tiebout hypothesis doesn't seem to hold between countries: nobody is leaving Argentina to emigrate (or are they?) "Venezuela-style". I guess only the best and the brightest are international types like myself.

Unless the country is in absolute shambles, this kinds of states have a non-trivial amount of emigration among "the best and the brightest". You'll find them in either the US or Europe, depending on whether they could go to a US university, or had a Spanish grandparent to get easy EU market access.

Still, it's not all of them: Good connections mean a pretty darned good life, even when the country is in shambles.

Thanks Bob, sounds very plausible, especially the Spanish grandparent part (I happen to know Spain is liberal in granting citizenship based on that criteria).

100 years ago, of course, and for much of the 20th century, Spain was poorer or as poor as Argentina, though. So Spain was able to do it; was it all credit to the EU?

My God, how does he come up with this stuff???

He's retired. His horrid wife has been writing the column for 18 years.

#6. Some questions

Q1: Since 1946, how many Argentina's Presidents have left their position bequeathing a fiscal crisis for the new one to solve?

Q2: How many of those fiscal crises have been caused by the policies of Argentinian governments and how many by a change in the rest of the world?

Q3: How many times have Argentinian governments been recommended to implement a serious fiscal consolidation plan since the first crisis of 1951 and how many times they attempted to implement it?

Q4: The probability that the new government will announce a serious consolidation plan in December 2019 is zero. Why?

Q5: Regardless of how the new government deals with the fiscal crisis, the probability that he/she will devalue the peso to at least 80 per dollar in December 2019 (today 60 pesos per dollar) is one. Why?

Q6: Why do foreign economists who know nothing about Argentina think that they can recommend surgery, "any" surgery?

Q7: Why is Argentina becoming a good example of what other countries should expect?

Note to PK and others who know nothing about my country's history: Since 1946 all Argentina's fiscal crises have been accompanied by a foreign exchange crisis (meaning that the new president had to devalue the domestic currency).

My take

Q2 - all of them caused by Argentina

Q3 - Argentines have never attempted to reform in any serious way. Focusing on the government is a giant red herring. Argentines have no desire or appetite for reform. And yes, this is the future of every country in N or S America to include the US.

Q4 - because Argentines rather debase their currency and continue idiocy

Q5 - because the structural deficits demanded by the populace are unsustainable. Which is also the reason no one will even entertain the possibility of lending in pesos.

Q7 - public choice economics has a flawless record predicting behavior. Where go the incentives behind Argentina’s woes, so go all of our misaligned incentives.

Let us be blunt: the Argentinian refime is a disaster. It is a savage regime ruled y a bunch of crazy caudillos.

Q6: because foreign know-nothings have to assess the situation as long Argentina asks foreign loans. Local experts could shine if funding came from domestic savings.

1. Trolling both the misogynists and misandrists:

"Chimpanzee society is characterized by severe gender inequality. Female chimpanzees are almost always dominated by males and there is much male violence against them. Gender relations in bonobo society are markedly different. Female bonobos dominate males and there is no significant male violence against them. This striking difference between these similar species of ape has been attributed to the following twin factors. First, unlike female chimpanzees, bonobo females tend to band together into powerful coalitions capable of thwarting males. Second, unlike male chimpanzees, bonobo males tend not to form strong coalitions with other males."

Sexual politics as coalition.

PR is right, you're a troll! lol

That's not fair, the text at Tyler's link neatly, and seriously, plays into Alex's piece on female comparative advantage, blank slate responses, and then links Anonymous2 provided to Bay Area gender philosophers.

Anyway who even sometimes thinks "It's all about status" should be able to tie that back to this section on great apes and gender coalitions.


Here's some straw and cloth, go build me a strawman to demonstrate how unreasonable your worldview is.

Ok, you explain why females didn't get the vote in the 1770s.

Well clearly your excerpt about violent male chimpanzees sheds important light on the topic....

Swing and a miss. Stuck in Putin’s Trump maze.

Liberals are the bonobos - Warren, Biden. Looking forward to the future with hope and realism. Creating a society in which Males of the species are stripped of the patriarchy and its privileges, and without access to firearms or weapons to live out their homicidal rage dreams. Male bonobos don’t need a #metoo movement.

Republicans and Russians, but I repeat myself, are Chimpanzees. Trump, Mattis, Police, Nazis, but again I repeat myself. Only use their limited mental faculties to oppress minorities and women. Use pseudoscience like intelligence, IQ, or “genes” to make themselves feel superior. React with rage when confronted with Science.

Decent parody.

We’re the New Left. We support chemical castration of all cisgender heterosexual males with over 20th percentile testosterone. This is science. Not creationism insanity. 80% of men create 100% of crime. Castrating them will create a population of mellow and low crime adults.

This should be done from birth, under a suboptimal system. But ideally this is surgical removal of male sexual organs of all registered Republicans or anyone who registers towards individualism on a personality test or owns firearms.

We have a real chance to lower violence by forcing all men to become eunuchs.

Also then women Can decide our future.

Warren/Biden 2020

If I may say so, you guys are a little funny, about when you choose to take the biological view and when you choose not to.

If I understand correctly, you believe that evolution would direct men and women to behave differently, but evolution would *not* direct them to seek status or power?

See again evolution.

"Anyone" not "Anyway"

What did females need in order to gain the vote in the United States of America? A stronger gender coalition.

Not sure why that's really trolling anybody. Humans don't really form similar gender-specific coalitions within tribes, do they?

Maybe your invitation to the meetings where men get together and conspire how to keep women down just got lost in the mail?

It has been a while in American society, but as I say, I think the pro- and anti-sufferage arguments could be viewed that way.

And I understand that this may be a weird view, but I think a certain component of feminism and anti-feminism may be viewed as coalitions seeking power.

I suppose, but neither one seems to have been all that successful.

Well here's a little nugget on that. We are a democracy founded in 1776, and the possibility of a first female president still hangs.

It's a deep question. Maybe too deep for any of us. What part of that 200+ year lag is biological and what part is cultural?

It took 185 years to elect a Catholic as POTUS and 233 years to elect a non-Caucasian . What's the rush on a babe?

True. Gender is just one element of the WASP axis.

Maybe young people won't even know what a WASP is, but I think in those days male gender was implied. MWASP.

"...democracy founded in 1776..."

We are not a democracy, we are a republic. Jeesh. Don't they teach US history in Russian troll school?

We are a democratic republic. There is no mutual exclusivity between the two terms, which describe different dimensions of politics.

#6: It's funny when people say that Macri's "neoliberal" reforms have failed. Yeah, they failed because they never happened. The fix for that? More peronism, which is the root of the problem and will obviously make it worse. Funny too how Krugman doesn't mention any of these things.

When foreigners won't loan you any more money, you call it a neoliberal reform and then let neoliberalism take the blame.

So giving money for the "vulture funds" is not a magical solution for economic problems. Who would have thought that?

It is funny how neoliberalism, just like communism, never fails because the real thing supposedly has never been tried (and never will be). I am old enough to remember how Americans used to support Menem's reforms and how Lawrence Summers tried to bully Brazil into imitate them. When said reforms collapsed Argentina's economy in the early 2000s, America betrayed the Argentinians just like it had betrayed the Hungarians in 1956 and the Kurds in 1991. And that is how the Kirchners made a name for themselves: dealing with the consequences of American policies for Argentina.

Peronism exists because Argentina under American control (the military junta, Menem, Macri, etc.) is probably the one place in the world where it seems almost reasonable.

That is just factually wrong. Peron got to power by overthrowing Castillo, who was a "conservative" and not really under American control. Argentina actually was "neoliberal" until then, and it had not only the best economy in Latin America but it had an economy comparable to the highest performers in Europe. So Peron created the problem. Now, it is true that Neoliberal reform was tried many times in Argentina but the problem is always the same: it is hard to deconstruct government. So yes, in that sense, the issue is not the deconstructed government created other problems, it is just that these governments could not get it done. You can call that failure a political failure but it is simply insane to call it ideological failure.

Not at all. Perón was elected in a real election in 1946. It is hard to say the same about Castillo.

Perón was a demagogue for sure, but demagogues are a cent a dozen. America has had its Bryans, Perots, Coughlins, Wallaces, etc.

Why is Perón more relevant than ever in Argentina? He died in the 1970's. No one remembers his peers such as Vargas and Allende. American policies radicalized the Argentinians.

After failures as the generals', Macri's and Menems's, to say neoliberal reforms have never been tried in Argentina is like saying Soviet Union's agriculture had issues because Stalin didn't try collectivization hard enough.

Again, the Kirchners' made a name for themselves dealing with the chaos Clinton and Bush unleashed in Argentina.

Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice. While Argentina collapses under Macri, Brazil's economy, under President Captain Bolsonaro's correct leadership, put an end to years of retraction and is growing again.

1. A late-19th century, American humorist, Mr. Dooley, wrote, “It is more comfortable to feel that we are a slight improvement on a monkey than such a fallin’ off from the angels.”

6. If the question is when Argentina will recover, a first-pass answer is never.

The monkey / angels thing is good.

I'm an admirer of Theodore Roosevelt, The Rough Riders, and etc.

Dooley commented on TR's book on the Spanish American War that it should have been subtitled, "Alone In Cuba."

Shruti: “A big reason for the slowdown is the war that has been waged against India’s vast informal economy.”

If the informal economy shrinks and becomes formal, then the regulatory and tax burden on the formal economy should drop.

Why? Do you think the India government will relax regulations and lower tax burdens at some point? Won't they just keep raising them? What government ever stops adding regulations?

1. " Gender inequality is gauged by the female to male
sex ratio, widely believed to be determined largely by discrimination in the intrahousehold allocation of resources. It is commonly considered a key measure of women’s relative well-being and has the advantage of being suited to both crossnational and sub-national analyses. The national female to male sex ratio is found to be significantly correlated with the national life expectancy sex ratio, the UNDP Gender Development Index and the UNDP Gender Inequality Index."

Part of the calculation of the UNDP Gender Development Index is the gender gap in life expectancy, where it is assumed that in Perfect Equality women will live 5 years longer than men, because biology can give natural advantages to women over men but never the other way around. Thus, it is unsurprising and almost tautological that the male-female ratio is correlated with the UNDP Gender Development Index, the longer women live relative to men, the higher their ratio to men will be.

"The study’s measure of nations’ ancestral ecological endowments is a plausible one for the following reasons. It is based on crop yields modelled to depend solely upon the
climate, believed largely unchanged for at least the past one to two millennia.

Current economic circumstances held constant, gender inequality in well-being is found to be more pronounced, that is, the female to male sex ratio lower, in regions whose peoples’ ancestors experienced greater resource stress. This connection holds cross-nationally, as well as sub-nationally, across the districts of India. It is consistent with the hypothesis that ecological resource scarcity led to gender inequality in the
intra-household allocation of resources in the past and that the associated behaviours have been culturally transmitted to the present as norms. Hence, even if a region deprived of ecological resources, such as the oil-producing Middle East, was to come upon prosperity in the modern era, its women might continue to suffer discrimination in resource allocations whose final outcome is a shortening of female life spans and a
skewing of the female to male sex ratio."

The problem with this is that in Malthusian conditions a generous resource endowment is quickly cancelled out by population growth so the areas where crops can be grown more easily become more populated rather than richer. A much simpler explanation is that dense areas got rich first, which leads to more egalitarian norms. And to the exception of the Middle East there's a similarly obvious explanation.

2. “There is no correlation between cultural similarity and buyer satisfaction, consistent with perceived differences in trustworthiness not being validated by actual transactions.”
Put your money where your mouth is?

the thing about a third party definition is you'll never find your way home.

3. Shruti: “A big reason for the slowdown is the war that has been waged against India’s vast informal economy.”
Central banks, and their regulators, do not have a monopoly, and central bank share of the currency market will vary. This is generally not taught to undergrad econ students because it means learning the analysis of competitive markets.

5. Hong Kong protestors are creating new Chinese characters.
Is the long term Chinese cultural cycle about maintaining control of Chinese text? Their written language promotes, then demotes great literature centers.

6. Paul Krugman’s take on Argentina.
Argentina done this nine times since independence.
The question is why are Argentinians unable to come to agreement. It is something about colonial Spanish rule. Failed Hispanic states seem quite common down there. What is the difference?

Spain never struggled through to obtain checks and balances we have in English law and custom. At least not during colonial times. No separation of powers, no checks and balances.

Because the local elite does not feels 'Argentinian'. They are just there to extract as much and as fast as possible of slightly brownish workers. The local elite has no plan for the future, no plan to improve productivity. Profits today, the rest doesn't matter.

1. It's because they were CUCKS!

Just kidding. Maybe the neolithic men in the more resource starved regions were more likely to be raided and have women stolen by neighboring tribes. Or they could have sold the women off but been unable to afford to buy brides in return.

Why are you kidding? What you described is 100% cuck. I would know.

" Maybe the neolithic men in the more resource starved regions were more likely to be raided and have women stolen by neighboring tribes. "

Doesn't history teach us the opposite? Prehistoric societies from resource starved regions raided the periphery of more prosperous, stable regions.

Or maybe this paper disproves that piece of folklore? But how does the paper explain Scandinavia, a region that was historically both poor but had a high degree of gender equality?

History is written by the victors. The more prosperous stable regions were better able to oppress and enslave the peripheral regions, take they women and resources, and annex the territory if it was desirable. They had larger better equipped armies. See the roman empire. It was much more successful at raiding and enslaving it's neighbors than were, for instance, the Visigoths.

Maybe scandinavia wasn't really poor. Or maybe it didn't have a high degree of gender equality.

"History is written by the victors. "

Well history is written first by those who can write, and secondly by the victors of those who can actually write. But to your point, maybe the Romans did indeed raid the marginal regions for slaves to a far greater extent than they were raided. And maybe after the killing was done, there were more women than men.

It's quite possible that civilizations were the net gainers in the raiding but since the barbarian regions didn't have a lot of writers on hand, we don't read their side of the story.

Exactly. We're reading the Roman side of the story, not the Visigoths - so obviously the Visigoths are going to be portrayed as murderous barbarians raiding the periphery of the civilized world. While the Roman Empire's own expansion is curiously left unmentioned.

Shruti : “A big reason for the slowdown is the war that has been waged against India’s vast informal economy.”

(Rule # 1) Problems of any one system always have roots outside that system. Problems of the poor are always caused by rich and powerful.
(Rule # 2) When in doubt, refer to rule number 1.

The Argentine Stock Market dumps -40% when the pre-election results favoring Peronism come in.

nothing else to add to that.

don't cry for me evita, you stupid f**ks

sorry to be provocative amongst intellectuals but this is just the truth:

#5— Good for the Hong Kong protesters; but it looks like it'd take the better part of an hour to spray-paint that character on a wall.


there's no floor on
the bottom this time


#5 > Hong Kong protestors are creating new Chinese characters.

So what is the freaking big news?? Only good enough to sucker the ignorant Western readers.

Traditionally only the olden Chinese shaman had created such very complicated writing and that tell you the nature of the beast and the people who promoted them.


Since olden days there are many written characters unique only for Cantonese, not for Mandarin. Example,


Written Cantonese and standard written Chinese equivalents, with Cantonese Yale romanization Gloss Written Cantonese Standard Written Chinese

is 係 haih 是 sih (Mandarin: shì)
not 唔 m̀h 不 bāt (Mandarin: bù)
they/them 佢哋 keúih-deih 他們 tā-mùhn? (Mandarin: tāmen)
(possessive marker) 嘅 ge 的 dīk (Mandarin: de)
Is it theirs? 係唔係佢哋嘅? haih-m̀h-haih keúih-deih ge? 是不是他們的? Sih-bāt-sih tā-mùhn dīk? (Mandarin: Shì bùshì tāmen de?)

and the long list of particles and loan words.

More recently China mainland has switched to the 'Simplified Chinese' writing while HK still adheres to the 'Traditional Chinese' writing. So visually the writings for China and HK have already diverged greatly. The percentage different is not known but that could already be up to 50%. So what is the freaking big news if HK invented more unique written words?? Does the Australian slang words different from the Queen's English also get such big splashing??


Replacing a character with another existing character that sounds the same or similar:
穀 → 谷; 醜 → 丑; 蘋 → 苹; 鬆 → 松; 隻 → 只; 乾、幹 → 干; 髮 → 发; etc.

Drawings of how the complex shaman character talismans are used. The fourth drawing shows the detail of the Shaman talisman used to subdue the "walking corpse" (zombie).


Another one with the talisman sticks to the fore-head,


An allegedly true recollection.


They saw a line of corpses, lurching, hopping, swaying through the streets, to the beat of the gong. They saw white cloths covering the heads of the dead, faces positioned up and forward, supposedly looking toward their final resting place.

They saw Taoist priests “herding” the dead, keeping them in line; one brought up the rear, a couple flanked either side of the line, one was the leader of the procession, and one walked ahead beating the gong.

But what did my grandfather actually see?

While it would be easy to write off my grandfather’s story as just one of old-world superstition or even a child’s nightmare, as it turns out there may be more than a little truth behind what my grandfather saw almost 100 years ago in Guangzhou.

No, I’m not saying that my grandfather saw a line of corpses reanimated by the power of prayer parading down the main street of his village. But what I am saying is that maybe my grandfather saw what was meant to trick people into thinking they were seeing a line of corpses reanimated by the power of prayer.

The lack of a strong link between spoken and written Cantonese means that:

a) HKers tend to use simple yet technically incorrect characters that sound similar to the word they mean. Sometimes it just means omitting the 口, like 地 instead of 哋. Sometimes it's a completely different character like 比 instead of 俾. And sometimes they do it even for words shared between Cantonese and Mandarin (and therefore formal written Chinese), like 反 instead of 飯 (this last category is mostly for handwriting by blue collar workers, especially in restaurants - e.g. menus written on the wall).

b) HKers easily pick up foreign loan words, since spoken Cantonese already has many words without clear (or at least well-known) written characters, so not everything needs to fit perfectly into the existing system. Here's a hilarious encounter I had with a father-son electrician team: Son: "HKers use a lot of English words that Cantonese people in Guangzhou don't know, like "hold" and "keep"", Dad: "Huh, "keep" isn't Chinese?", Son: "Of course not, how do you write it?", Dad: "I don't know how to write a lot of characters!"

Great post, informative, thanks.

Asking because you seem to know about it, does the rapid changing of these languages bother anyone, like older folks who don't want to/can't keep up? Or are they keen to stay mentally active that way?

That was to 'anonymous' right above at 12:38am

5. I'm almost completely unfamiliar with Chinese characters so help me out. IIRC, while Chinese characters are compound, combining two concepts into one character doesn't always combine the meaning, e.g. firefighter.

If someone invents a new character, e.g. Orwell inventing "Crimestop," does the new character need to be taught or explained, or is the meaning self evident?

Are there rules for construction of new characters? A "computer" is obviously something that computes. How does Chinese do this? How is spoken Chinese connected to pictographs?

Most Chinese characters are a combination of multiple smaller parts, and most are phono-semantic compounds, where one of the parts indicates the pronunciation of the character, whereas the other part gives a clue to the meaning. There's some patterns and rules that enable people to deduce which is which in most cases. Due to linguistic drift, the pronunciation of the character, particularly in different dialects, may not be exactly the same for character that share the same phonetic part.

Most new characters are formed this way. In some cases, if someone is already familiar with the *spoken word* that the character corresponds to, they could guess the meaning of the character, but it's not always easy.

To be credible the new word has to be included in some "reputatble" dictionary and to be popular/easily accessible it has to have an unicode representation unless people are willing to mess around with
tiny picture files. Overly complicated new words become the shaman franken words which cannot be displayed in the 'normal' character size on screen due to the limited pixels available.


Jackie Chan merged his two words given name to create one new word,


"A new word is taking the internet by storm in China - but no one knows quite what it means."

2: "There is no correlation between cultural similarity and buyer satisfaction, consistent with perceived differences in trustworthiness not being validated by actual transactions."

Perhaps, but conditioning on a collider can be a problem here. If people are trading less with those with cultural differences, and doing so in a way that they only trade with the higher rated, most otherwise trustworthy looking "other," then that will reduce the amount of trade with the culturally different, but people who are culturally different with whom they trade will have higher average objective ratings than the culturally similar trade partners. (Indeed, the paper shows that the differences are most pronounced when looking at willingness to trade with someone with a less established or lower reputation on eBay.)

From the paper, "In our final set of results, we examine whether, conditional on a transaction having taken place, cultural distance predicts buyer satisfaction."

A lack of correlation with satisfaction measured at that point doesn't necessarily mean much. Papers similarly have demonstrated that "conditional on being drafted, height doesn't matter for NBA players."

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