Tuesday assorted links


I'll be the first to say I've not checked any of these links. #3 looks interesting though.

#3 - author Drezner makes a nice case that Trump is too inconsistent to be credible, quoting a Mexican diplomat as saying: " “He has shown us that what’s black at 9 a.m. can be gray at 3 p.m. and white at 7 p.m.” - very true, but arguably useful from a game theory point of view (inconsistency is shown in many games to be a winning formula, though "Tit-For-Tat" with a default to be nice initially is a strategy that's hard to beat on average).

Bonus trivia: note TC is deemed by Drezner as a "social scientist" not an "economist", a reversal of fortune?!

"A Mexican diplomat." How incredibly official-sounding!

I found it to be pretty weak. Best line from #3:

"On the empirical side, my memory of the pre-Trump years is different from Cowen’s. I distinctly recall the Obama administration not overlooking China’s territorial encroachments, at least with respect to the East China Sea. Indeed, the Obama administration made it clear that it viewed the Senkaku Islands as being covered under Article V of the bilateral security treaty with Japan. It didn’t need to impose costly sanctions to add credibility to its signal, either, because the announcement itself was viewed as credible. It did not take similar action in the South China Sea, partially because sovereignty in that area remains more hotly contested."

Nothing says getting tough quite like reminding China that the islands are covered under Article V of the bilateral security treaty and then doing nothing else.


It is a hard fact that the South China Sea is a complicated mess. There are several nations contesting claims by China, including Philippines, Taiwan (if you count it as a nation), Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia, with the latter most recently conflicting with China. International courts have rejected maximalist Chinese claims, but this is a serous mess, and it is unclear which of these disputes the US should get itself involved in.

Obama was perceived as weak by the Chinese and was felt to be the first to back down (re: Syria and others). His support for half-hearted waves of government overthrow in the Middle East was far more consequential and inconsistent than anything Trump has been accused of. But as discussion by Chinese sources and on the internet made clear when Trump was elected, the Chinese feared Trump and his strategic inconsistency more than Obama.
As for the South China Sea I don't recall ANYTHING Obama did changing China's tendencies in that area.


Obama supported TPP, an economic organization that united nations around China including those disputing China on the South China Sea. Trump removed the US from that, substantially weakening the US position vis a vis China.

As for Trump doing anything in the South China Sea, nada, not a single thing.

Trump in ME has been indeed "strategically inconsistent." What was Trump doing when he invited Turkey to invade Kurdish parts of northern Syria? And then we have him exhibiting utter incoherence as in his ridiculous demands that the US "get the oil" in the Middle East. You wish to defend this nonsense, Wiki?

Obama did not "back down" on Syria. Congress refused to let gom expand American involvement there.

#2 Dairy products have seen year-over-year exponential growth in China for the last 20 years. From pizza to cheese to yogurt, he gettin' it while the gettin' is good. Amazing for a country with 60% lactose intolerance.

#4 I can't remember who said it (and google pulls the wrong correlation), but a famous Indian was quoted as saying (paraphrase) 'untouchability was the greatest job security anyone could ever have.' Likely apocryphal but simultaneously not completely wrong. If Mike Rowe was Indian, it might be something he might say.

#5 That the vast majority of people are now more comfortable communicating with their phones. And that by extension an AI that can pass a Turing test isn't far off.

The real truth about the India regime: https://www.opendoorsuk.org/persecution/countries/india/ The fourth paragraph might shock you.

#6 Scam alert

Probably is a shitcoin scam, but can you explain bitcoin as well as Akon can? If not, might be worth either adjusting your priors or providing more nuance as to why you think it might be a scam. Possibly centralized? Encryption backdoors, maybe?


Trump’s China trade was ha been useless, only costing US companies due to having to re-jigger imports to Vietnam, Thailand, etc. Whatever we “got” from the recent agreement doesn’t make up for what was lost, and in terms of business to business relationships between China & US, we may have lost for decades.

On the other hand, I will give Trump admin some credit for scaring off Macron’s euro Amazon tax for a year.

Has Canada ratified USMCA yet?

#3...I think these trade actions are on the Kabuki side, but if it keeps us from using military actions as the George W Bush administration did then it's worth it.

2. Needless to say, if the Heil terminated its coverage of the royal family, it would be a small step toward a much less profitable world for those "trading on their royal status", for which strike status and replace with celebrity.

Royal Peter’ for hire in China:
We need a good supply of royal peters.

3. Social scientist? That's been Cowen's new career for awhile - his posts at Bloomberg are at Politics and Policy not at Economics. Cowen calls Trump's phase one trade deal a success, which fits with Cowen's newfound appreciation for everything Trump. My view is that Trump is an ignoramus, and that Peter Thiel has no soul. http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/01/peter-thiel-conservative-political-influence.html

Actually, it's New York Magazine not the NYT.

Your knowledge knows few bounds, rayward. Here you tell us you know what Economics is, when many others don’t. And you know about souls (and Peter Thiel’s in particular). Remarkable!

I have read about it.


The Alfred Marshall subreddit looks interesting.

Here's a new sub for economics: https://www.reddit.com/r/NewAustrianSociety/

Interesting in an absolute sense, but not in a relative sense. Meaning that if I had the time, yeah I'd read those posts. But with too darned much other stuff to read and do, nah.

The market (of ideas) appears to agree; no comments at all that I can see. Granted markets aren't always correct.

Profits are often made by going against the market...

#4. Just once I’d like to hear an Indian public intellectual say, that the caste system is deplorable and I oppose it.

Huh? Did you bother to look at all? Here, for instance?

I think you will find a whole range of views in India if you are actually interested in the topic. People on the left and India's large non-Hindu population are likely to see caste as a relic of the past. Conservative Hindus may accord it varying degrees of respect and people in the middle will compare it to ethnic identity in other countries and say it has its purpose in giving people a sense of community and purpose but that discrimination based on caste is immoral.

3. Tyler is a great guy, but I think he made his opinion about the success of Trump with China two years ago, and now just sticks with it.

Maybe Drezner did too!

(And is just luckier in how things worked out.)

5. “My colleagues want to better understand how people behave in the wild and how we can capture every-day behavior without asking people to self report … [because] that’s a very unreliable way of collecting data,” Nebeker told Motherboard. A genuine quote.

Nebeker is justifiably casting doubt on the validity of the conclusions of the thousands of studies that are based on self-reporting.

#2. It would seem that the capitalist system has finally begun its assault on the last great bastion of feudalism

5. Kind of strange that the infamous murder of Kitty Genovese is invoked as an example of bystanders being unlikely to intervene in a public attack since that is known and described in the link in the article as being apocryphal. If the actual (counter)facts of the Genovese story didn't make people question the assumption that bystanders are unlikely to intervene, why should this new work?

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