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Weekly selection
9 June 2018

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

  • Kenneth Rogoff, “Are Emerging Markets the Canary in the Financial Coal Mine?”

    (Project Syndicate - 6 June 2018)

    The Harvard economist thinks that a full-blown global debt crisis is unlikely to erupt. In his opinion, the recent softening of European performance is a concern, but the overall global economic picture remains strong. Although it is true that several emerging-market firms have piled up worrisome quantities of dollar-denominated external debt, many foreign central banks are brimming with dollar assets, especially in Asia. The most important reason for optimism is that global long-term real interest rates are still extremely low (reads in 6-7 min).

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  • Barry Eichengreen, “Is globalisation going to unravel?”

    (Prospect Magazine - 1 June 2018)

    The economist who argued two years ago that globalization was too deeply embedded to be reversed is now pondering whether he should reconsider. The short answer: possibly, because the balance between the amount of overall gain to the economy from further globalization looks smaller relative to the amount of compensation that is required to make it work for the losers. He explains in quite some detail why he is particularly worried about the US (reads in 8-9 min).

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  • John Gapper, “How millennials became the world’s most powerful consumers”

    (The Financial Times - metered paywall - 6 June 2018)

    This FT’s “big read” (about 7-8 min) explains in vivid terms how the biggest global generation (2bn millennials are coming of age) will upend business​ from the US to China. Their choices differ markedly from those of their predecessors (the baby boomers). In a nutshell, the millennials don’t’ want bland, mass-market products shipped from factories by huge corporations. They prefer smaller, independent brands and outlets and this pattern extends to media consumption: technology and social media have unleashed an extraordinary fragmentation in how they absorb information.

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  • Tim Herrera, “How to Make Tough Decisions Easier”

    (The New York Times - metered paywallk - 4 June 2018)

    A quick take from the Smarter Living newsletter on how not to fall into the trap of FOBO (Fear of Better Options). “Phenomenon maximization” (in the scientific jargon) leads to indecision, regret and lower happiness. It’s much better to settle for a “good enough” or what the journalist calls “Mostly fine decision”: the minimum outcome we are willing to accept for a decision (reads in 3-4 min). 

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  • Jia Tolentino, “My Visit to the World’s First Gym for Your Face”

    (The New Yorker - 7 June 2018)

    As this article shows, beauty standards are intensifying under the influence of technology, with the bar of “perfection” being continually raised. Young female adulthood is now defined by constant visual self-surveillance and an overwhelming redirection of anxiety into the “wellness” space. As a result, the financial and psychological drain created by the beauty industry grows ever stronger, resulting in a refusal “to ever be content with yourself” (reads in 8-10 min). 

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