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Weekly selection
12 January 2018

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

  • Barry Eichengreen, “Ready or Not for the Next Recession?”

    (Project Syndicate - 10 January 2018)

    For a combination of economic and political reasons, the global economy in general, but the US in particular, is ill prepared to respond to a possible recession. The economist explains why. Contrary to the past, policymakers have little or no room to respond by cutting interest rates, reducing taxes, and boosting transfers to the unemployed and other casualties of the downturn (reads in 3-5 min.)

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  • Mathew Burrows, Robert Mannings and Owen Daniels, “Top Risks of 2018”

    (Atlantic Council - 4 January 2018)

    According to these 3 foresight specialists, they are: (1) North Korea On the Brink; (2) United States Poses Obstacle to Global Trade; (3) The United States in More Crisis? (4) Putin’s Post-Electoral Dilemma; (5) Can Europe Function Without a Crisis? (6) No End to Conflict in the Middle East; (7) Worsening Chaos in Yemen; (8) Slow Pace of Reform in Saudi Arabia Risks Sowing Frustration and Resentments; (9) A Scuppered Sputnik Moment for the United States and Europe? (10) Terrorist Threat Increasing Outside the Middle East; (11) Populism: it’s Too Early to Dismiss (reads in 8-10 min).

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  • Anatol Lieven, “The Only Force That Can Beat Climate Change Is the U.S. Army”

    (Foreign Policy - metered paywall - 9 January 2018)

    Now that the Trump administration has removed climate change from the list of security threats under its new National Security Strategy (NSS), the academic contends that military is the only institution that can break the partisan deadlock on the issue. He quotes various reports showing the link between global warming and critical issues of national security. The threat comes from the direct impact of climate change on agricultural production and sea levels but equally importantly from the huge waves of migration that climate change is likely to cause (reads in 6-8 min).

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  • Jenny Anderson, “A letter from two big Apple investors powerfully summarizes how smartphones mess with kids’ brains”

    (Quartz - 8 January 2018)

    Two big investors who own around $2 billion in Apple shares just asked the company to consider how technology affects children’s wellbeing. In their letter, they state that the average American teenager gets her first smartphone at age 10 and spends almost 5 hours a day on it, excluding texting and talking. More than half report feeling addicted to their devices. This letter may mark a turning point: it also takes a dig at social media companies, and it is the first time that money enters the tech backlash arena (reads in 4-6 min).  

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  • Alexandra Schwartz, “Improving Ourselves to Death”

    (The New Yorker - 15 January 2018)

    A bleak, but must-read! This article vindicates a statement we made in “Ten Good Reasons to Go for A Walk”: the self-help / self-improvement industry makes us miserable. The reason is this: “Self-help advice tends to reflect the beliefs and priorities of the era that spawns it.” Since our era is obsessed with efficiency, productivity and the relentless pursuit of happiness, we end up getting trapped in the “hard doctrine of personal optimization.” We therefore go to great lengths to transform ourselves into superior human beings - the surest path to stress, or worse… (reads in 15-20 min.)

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