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Weekly selection
1 June 2018

5 insightful op-eds or articles to help make sense of today’s world

  • Philippe Legrain, “Overcoming the Politics of Pessimism”

    (Project Syndicate - 31 May 2018)

    Nothing is more urgent than to do this! The think-tanker argues that reassuring the majority of voters who are fearful about the future requires ambitious policy solutions to help governments increase the economic pie faster and share it more fairly. Three major changes are required to do so: (1) governments must do more to spur productivity growth; (2) authorities must crack down on value extraction; (3) governments must bolster both opportunity and security (reads in 6-7 min).

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  • Eduardo Porter, “The Profound Social Cost of American Exceptionalism”

    (The New York Times - metered paywall - 28 May 2018)

    This is the NYT economic editor’s last column. He ponders what he calls “America’s fundamental paradox”: how can one of the richest, most technologically advanced nations in the history of humanity accept — proudly defend, even — a degree of social dysfunction that would be intolerable in any other rich society? Read-on to grasp what he means (reads in 5-6 min).

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  • Andrew Scott, “The Myth of the Ageing Society”

    (World Economic Forum - 25 May 2018)

    An interesting contrarian opinion! The LSE economist explains why the rapid increase in lifespans over the past few decades means that age is not what it used to be. The old-age dependency ratio’s (OADR) argument is less valid than it used to be because the assumption that old people are unproductive consumers of government benefits is now wrong. Scott argues that, unless public policy reflects that fact, the dividends of longevity may be squandered (reads in 6-8 min).

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  • Richard Baldwin, “Globalization at a ‘Holy Cow’ moment”

    (Graduate Institute of Geneva - 28 May 2018)

    This is a very short piece presented in an unusual format. It makes a fundamental point with far-reaching consequences for decision-makers of all kinds: we are at a juncture (which the economist calls a “Holy Cow moment”) where we tend to under-estimate the impact of technology as well as its speed and how quickly the nature of globalization will change as a result (reads in 2-3 min).

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  • Adam Sternbergh, “Read This Story and Get Happier”

    (The Cut - 28 May 2018)

    In the face of an epidemic of unhappiness, Professor Santos decided to design a course in “positive psychology” that has become the most popular course at Yale. Some interesting insights: many of our priorities around happiness are completely erroneous; our minds are very good at persuading us to follow intuitions about happiness that turn out to be entirely wrong; nearly everything we think will make us happier won’t, because nearly everything we’re likely to list (more money, a different home, a better job) is some circumstantial change… A rather long (about 20 min) but a fascinating and necessary read!

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