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Weekly selection
16 February 2018

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

  • Barry Einchengreen, “The Lessons of Black Monday”

    (Project Syndicate - 12 February 2018)

    The economist draws a historical precedent between recent market conditions and Black Monday (October 19, 1987). Both occurred against the backdrop of monetary-policy tightening by the Fed and dollar weakness; and in both cases, algorithmic trading amplified volatility. In 1987, despite all the drama, the impact on economic activity was muted. Would it be the same today? There is less room to cut interest rates, and much sentiment hinges on the President’s reaction. “A president who plays the blame game would only further aggravate the problem” (reads in 5-7 min).

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  • Scott Galloway, “Silicon Valley’s Tax-Avoiding, Job-Killing, Soul-Sucking Machine”

    (Esquire - 8 February 2018)

    This is a rich yet concise, must-read, article that tells us everything we ought to know about the danger posed by big tech. The early tech investor turned academic details how four companies (Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google) ended up dominating our daily lives in a manner unprecedented in human history. In his opinion, these behemoths enjoy unfettered economic domination and hoard riches on a scale not seen since the monopolies of the gilded age. He recommends ‘busting up’ big tech (reads in 15-20 min).

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  • Dan O’Neill, “Is it possible for everyone to live a good life within our planet’s limits?”

    (The Conversation - 8 February 2018)

    The answer is no! The ecological economist explains that if everyone on Earth were to lead a good life within our planet’s sustainability limits, the level of resources used to meet basic needs would have to be reduced by a factor of two to six times. Worryingly, the more social thresholds that a country achieves, the more biophysical boundaries it tends to transgress. The logical conclusion: wealthy nations must move beyond the pursuit of GDP growth: it no longer improving people’s lives in these countries, but is pushing humanity ever closer towards environmental disaster (reads in 5-6 min).

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  • Oliver Wainwright, “Not the end of The World: the return of Dubai's ultimate folly”

    (The Guardian - 13 February 2018)

    This may be the most extreme example of luxury and exclusivity gone mad! It’s worth reading the article in full to get a sense about how hubris is leading the fantasy archipelago of 300 artificial ‘countries’ back in business (reads in 12-16 min).

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  • Thu-Huong Ha, “Knee-Jerk cynicism is a failure of critical reasoning, says Steven Pinker in a new book”

    (Quartzy - 14 February 2018)

    In his new book (“Enlightenment Now”), the Harvard psychologist extols the promise of human civilization and its potential to save itself from darkness. He puts forth a forceful case for optimism, based on humanity’s post-enlightenment track record. Through the ideals of progress, science, reason, and humanism, he argues, people have improved their collective lot across myriad measures, including health, wealth, inequality, safety, peace, civil rights, even happiness (reads in 5-7 min).

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