Sunday, September 30, 2007

Japanese Fact of the Day

Yet, despite the new technologies, some 30 percent of Japanese people still live in homes that do not have flush toilets connected to sewage systems, according to the Ministry of Construction.

One of the barriers to achieving 100 percent coverage, says Atsushi, is convincing the government to spend more on sanitation facilities in rural areas where the population is small and made up of older people who prefer the outmoded outhouses. Data show that flush toilet usage in rural area is still at a poor 54 percent.

-Japan Toilet Taboos Down the Drain


Bound Together: How Traders, Preachers, Adventurers and Warriors Shaped Globalization


Munger and Roberts on Recycling, Peak Oil and Steroids

Phelps, Economist, Doubts Fed Can Prevent a Recession

Blinder Says Housing `Spillovers' Key to Fed Policy

Cline, Economist, Says Global Warming Will Hurt Farming

Cordingly Discusses Book on Lord Thomas Cochcrane

Krueger Sees Need to Put Risk of Terror in `Perspective'

Sentimentality from Adam Smith to Alfred Hitchcock

The psychological power of forgiveness in South Africa

Therapy Goes Digital: Is the Internet good for your head?

Oil, democracy and a CIA coup

Faking Orgasms and Game Theory

Game Theory Assorted;

The Economics of Faking Orgasm

The obscure game-theory problem that explains why rich countries are rich

What economics tells us about penalty kicks

Can game theory solve the Israel-Lebanon war?

Game Theory for Swingers


Six Fingers of Blame in the Mortgage Mess

Can We Turn Off Our Emotions When Investing?

The Perils of Financial Historicism

Bugged by Excel

Divorced From Reality


Redoing Venn diagrams as readable graphs?

Creative Destruction vs. the New Industrial State

Fun with STATA

Tabarrok writes about Justin Wolfer's work (now guest blogging at MR);

An open secret and an open sin in economics is that many empirical studies are difficult to replicate, even when journals supposedly require authors to make their data publicly available. Here is how you replicate a Wolfers paper: You go to his web page you download the data and often the code, you run it - and damn it you get exactly what is in the journal. I have done this several times and every time I am shocked that this actually works. (And before being accused of being a hypocrite let me acknowledge that I too have sinned but under Justin's example I am resolved to do better in the future.)

Do Economics Journal Archives Promote Replicable Research?
Death Penalty Data

The Divorce Myth

One on One with Jeffrey Sachs

Riz Khan interviews Jeffrey Sachs;

Tyranny of Qadaffi

Grading Class Participation

From an MIT, Economics of Education class;

An education course is a good place to try to improve your education. In particular, I want you to engage with the material and minimize "chalk and talk" where I do all the talking and you sit in your seats taking notes, doing email, etc. We are going to institute two or three procedures to help push in this direction:

-On the first day of class, we will decide whether we will choose one student each day to take class notes. If we adopt this system, the notes will then be distributed electronically to other students in the class. This should allow other students to focus more on class discussion. No student will be asked to do the notes for more than one class and a student who takes notes will be exempt from questions for the next class (see below).

-Beginning with the second class, each student should bring to class two good questions they have developed about that day's readings. Students will hand in the questions at the beginning of class and the first part of each class will involve me calling on four or five students and using their questions to begin the day's discussion. I will grade each pair of questions as Exceptional, Satisfactory, or Unsatisfactory. When a student cannot attend class, they should email their questions to me on the morning of the class.

-Policy debates to be held in section. Many issues we discuss involve significant controversy - e.g. the effect of increased spending or school choice on student achievement. To clarify these issues, we will hold a series of 25 minute student debates in Friday sections. Students will sign up in advance and we will try to give every student the opportunity to participate.

Fact of the Day

The average American spends $50 a year to deworm their dog,-In Africa, you can deworm a child for 50 cents.
-Attack of the Worms

Randomized Trials of Male Circumscision

Two Studies;

Male circumcision for HIV prevention in men in Rakai, Uganda: a randomised trial
Baseline characteristics of the men in the intervention and control groups were much the same at enrolment. Retention rates were much the same in the two groups, with 90–92% of participants retained at all time points. In the modified intention-to-treat analysis, HIV incidence over 24 months was 0·66 cases per 100 person-years in the intervention group and 1·33 cases per 100 person-years in the control group (estimated efficacy of intervention 51%, 95% CI 16–72; p=0·006). The as-treated efficacy was 55% (95% CI 22–75; p=0·002); efficacy from the Kaplan-Meier time-to-HIV-detection as-treated analysis was 60% (30–77; p=0·003). HIV incidence was lower in the intervention group than it was in the control group in all sociodemographic, behavioural, and sexually transmitted disease symptom subgroups. Moderate or severe adverse events occurred in 84 (3·6%) circumcisions; all resolved with treatment. Behaviours were much the same in both groups during follow-up.

A randomized controlled trial of male circumcision to reduce HIV incidence in Kisumu, Kenya;
Methods: Sexually active 18-24 year-old men are counselled and tested for HIV. Seronegative consenting men are randomized equally to treatment (circumcision) and control (non-circumcision)arms. The circumcised men are examined 3 and 8 days after surgery. Men in both arms are counseled and tested for HIV at 1 and 3 months after enrollment and are followed at 6, 12, 18 and 24 months with additional HIV testing, STI testing and treatment, and behavioral risk assessment. Men who are positive at screening or seroconvert are referred to a post-test support group offering care and treatment. The sample size of 2784 is designed to detect a 50% reduction in HIV incidence.

Results: Of 6686 men screened, 2784 (42%) were randomized, 1391 to MC, of whom 1334 (95.9%) completed the procedure. 11 (0.8%) of controls were circumcised off protocol. As of January 15, 2006, 744 men (86% of expected number) had completed 24 months of follow-up. Total follow-up was 3146 person-years (PY), and 54 HIV seroconversions had occurred. There were 24 adverse events among 23 men (1.7%) considered related to the MC procedure, mainly post-operative bleeding or infection, none severe, and they resolved quickly without sequellae. Incidences of gonorrhea and chlamydia infection were 4.5 and 4.7 per 100 PYs, respectively.

Male Circumcision: Is It Time to Act?
Rwanda: Government Readies for Mass Male Circumcision
Uncircumcised? Washing After Sex Might Be Risky

NIAID-Sponsored Adult Male Circumcision Trials in Kenya and Uganda

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Road Less Travelled on Economic Growth

A very good column by David Warsh;

Last week a group of Chicagoans met in Clemson, S.C., to mark the 20th anniversary of the appearance of the "Mechanics" paper. Lucas was there, as were his fellow University of Chicago professors Nancy Stokey, Kevin M. Murphy and Boyan Jovanovic; Isaac Erlich of the State University of New York at Buffalo; and Princeton's Esteban Rossi-Hansberg. Chicago's Gary Becker was called away. There was no preening at the conference, no speeches, no sociological claptrap, no press: just seven papers about aspects of the topic that Lucas had raised twenty years before.

(So much on the down-low was this Fourth Annual Development Conference at Clemson University kept that I learned of it only by accident: David Weil, of Brown University, was the star presence at the first, Acemoglu and Stanley Engerman, of the University of Rochester at the second; Oded Galor and John McDermott, both of Brown, and Joel Mokyr, of Northwestern University, at the third. Clemson chair Raymond (Skip) Sauer created the series.)

The meeting was organized by Robert Tamura, of Clemson, and fittingly so, for it was Tamura, more than any other, who fifteen years ago persuaded Lucas that the so-called demographic transition lay at the heart of the mystery of economic growth -- Tamura had been coauthor, with Murphy and Becker, of a model presented in 1988 at an influential meeting in Buffalo, at the height of the excitement, in which household decisions about the number of children to bear and the kinds of job skills to accumulate besides child-rearing were seen as inseparable from one another, and central to the advent of sustained income growth. (The so-called "quantity/quality" decision was originally described by Becker in 1960: you can have a lot of kids and let the ones who survive raise each other, or have a few and raise them yourself; as the number of children declines, the care devoted to them increases.) Today Tamura is a member of an up-and-coming Clemson department that has a strong Chicago flavor.

For a time the Becker-Murphy-Tamura fertility paper was overshadowed by Romer's "Endogenous Technological Change," which appeared in the same 1990 special issue of the Journal of Political Economy (edited by the same Isaac Erlich who edits the new start-up Journal of Human Capital). But gradually the fertility paper ("Human Capital, Fertility and Economic Growth") gained ground, especially after Lucas took up the issue in 1997, in his Simon Kuznets Lecture at Yale University. "The Industrial Revolution: Past and Future" serves as the capstone essay in Lucas' Lectures on Economic Growth. "I always thought that the Becker-Murphy-Tamura paper is a classic. I tried for weeks to understand it back when it came out and have read it again and again over the years," says Louis Johnson, College of St. Benedict/St. Johns University, who wrote to study guide for Robert Frank and Ben Bernanke's Principles of Economics. "I think there's one big problem with it: there's no simple version of the model that us mortals can work with. But the point about multiple equilibria determined by fertility and human capital levels surely has to be part of the growth and development story.”

The Clemson conference included papers by: Tamura and three co-authors (Chad Turner, of Nichols State Univrersity, Sean Mulholland of Mercer University, and Scott Baier, of Clemson) on the significance of black-white schooling differentials for productivity differentials; Chi-Wa Yuen, of the University of Hong Kong on alternative channels of human capital formation; Ehrlich on human capital and the demand for risky assets; Stokey on "catching up" and "falling behind;" Becker, Murphy and Tamura on certain features of the baby boom; Jovanovic and Peter Rousseau of Vanderbilt University, on the "Q-elasticity" of investment, with respect to old and new firms; and Rossi-Hansberg, on the importance of organization (in its most general sense) for growth.

Even confined to seven papers, the breadth of conference program was an effective demonstration of the wisdom of Charles (Chad) Jones, of the University of California at Berkeley, who observed as long ago as 1997 in his Introduction to Economic Growth that the "new growth" literature (of which Lucas's paper was among the most important specimens) had generated not one but three quite separate controversies, with a fundamentally different question at the center of each: "What is the engine of economic growth?" "Why are we so rich and they so poor?" And "How do we understand growth miracles?"

Entrepreneurship Database

Entrepreneurship Database

Quick Algebra Review

An idiosyncratic algebra review

Assorted Cost Benefit Analysis

A course on Cost-Benefit Analysis

Cost v. Benefit: Clearing the Air?

Why Costs Should Count

Decision Analysis in Health care (online course GMU)

New Foundations of Cost-Benefit Analysis (Book Forum)

Guide to cost-benefit analysis of investment projects

Cost-benefit analysis : evaluation criteria

Cost - benefit analysis : issues and methodologies

Where to use cost effectiveness techniques rather than cost benefit analysis

Cost benefit analysis of public projects and programs

Former Marine, Now Al Jazeera Reporter

Fareed Zakaria show;

The popular documentary Control Room followed the interaction between a US Marine Press Officer and the Arabic news channel, Al Jazeera, in the months following the US invasion of Iraq. Well, that Press Officer, Josh Rushing, now works for Al Jazeera and he joins us today. Josh, you began your life really as a Marine; you--you signed up when you were 17 years old. You served in the Marines for 15 years and now you’re working for Al Jazeera. Does it feel like a long journey or does it feel like you’re doing something that’s natural?

Hard Talking Jeffrey Sachs

Sachs appeared on the Hard-Talk show recently

What on earth is logarithm?

Understanding Mathematics- A guide

Assorted on Bounds Testing

Bounds testing approach: an examination of foreign direct investment, trade, and growth relationships

Causality between economic growth and immigration: An ARDL bounds testing approach

Bounds testing approaches to the analysis of level relationships;
This paper develops a new approach to the problem of testing the existence of a level relationship between a dependent variable and a set of regressors, when it is not known with certainty whether the underlying regressors are trend- or first-difference stationary. The proposed tests are based on standard F- and t-statistics used to test the significance of the lagged levels of the variables in a univariate equilibrium correction mechanism. The asymptotic distributions of these statistics are non-standard under the null hypothesis that there exists no level relationship, irrespective of whether the regressors are I(0) or I(1). Two sets of asymptotic critical values are provided: one when all regressors are purely I(1) and the other if they are all purely I(0). These two sets of critical values provide a band covering all possible classifications of the regressors into purely I(0), purely I(1) or mutually cointegrated. Accordingly, various bounds testing procedures are proposed. It is shown that the proposed tests are consistent, and their asymptotic distribution under the null and suitably defined local alternatives are derived. The empirical relevance of the bounds procedures is demonstrated by a re-examination of the earnings equation included in the UK Treasury macroeconometric model.

Democracy Pakistan Style

More than 10,000 riot police and plainclothes officers were stationed around the court and the nearby Electoral Commission offices, where the nomination papers for 43 presidential hopefuls, including Musharraf, were being scrutinized for eligibility. Some 1,000 lawyers and political workers brandishing banners and shouting "Go, Musharraf go!" were forcibly prevented from entering the Electoral Commission grounds. Within minutes of reaching the gate, baton-wielding police charged the protesters. Yasser Raja, a 33-year-old lawyer from nearby Rawalpindi was beaten repeatedly on the head; when he attempted to protect himself the police continued to attack, causing extensive damage to his upraised arm. His lawyer's uniform of white shirt and black suit was soaked in blood, but he continued to shout anti-Musharraf slogans. "These things cannot stop us," he said. "We are ready to sacrifice more and more. Our blood will not be taken in vain."

It seemed as if the police were ready to take up the challenge. Someone threw a stone — though it's not clear who — and the police returned the volley with rocks of their own. Some witnesses say they saw police passing around bags of rocks, others say they simply picked them up from nearby piles of rubble. Within minutes the fighting escalated. Security forces fired tear gas shells directly into the crowd, causing a panicked stampede. The police, protected by helmets, body armor and shields, kept up the barrage of stones and gas until they forced the protesters across the street to the grounds of the Supreme Court. Aitzaz Ahsan, a leading Supreme Court lawyer and former Interior Minister, who had served as an advisor to the court on the hearing for Musharraf's candidacy, was directly targeted by the police, as were several other leaders of the protest. Ahsan was hit by a brick in the kidneys at point blank range, then beaten on the head with batons, which shattered his glasses. A colleague, who had thrown him to the ground in an attempt to protect him, was beaten so badly that the force of blows broke his arm. Several hundred protesters were dragged off in waiting police wagons, the rest took refuge in the cool halls of the Supreme Court, where the blood of the wounded pooled on the white marble steps of the main entrance. "There is blood on the steps of Pakistan's Supreme Court," said Ahsan. "The people of Pakistan have a right to protest, yet they have been brutally attacked. This whole situation is as noxious as the tear gas itself."

-Riots in Islamabad Over Musharraf

Simulate Doing Business

How would a country's ranking change if it reformed? See the impact of reforms by using the ranking simulator (Excel, 186KB) to change indicator values. This exercise assumes that other countries don't reform

The Road Less Traveled of Business Regulatory Reform

Indoctrinated Economists

An interesting paper by Ariel Rubinstein, A Sceptic's Comment on the Study of Economics;

This research was motivated by my concern about the way economics is currently being taught in our universities. Students who come to us to 'study economics' instead become experts in mathematical manipulations. Furthermore, I suspect that their views on economic issues are influenced by the way we teach, perhaps without them even realising it.

A survey was carried out among two groups of undergraduate economics students and four groups of students in mathematics, law, philosophy and business administration. The main survey question involved a conflict between profit maximisation and the welfare of the workers who would be fired to achieve it. Significant differences were found between the choices of the groups. The results were reinforced by a survey conducted among readers of an Israeli business newspaper and PhD students of Harvard. It is argued that the overly mathematical methods used to teach economics encourage students to lean towards profit maximisation.

Does Studying Economics Inhibit Cooperation?
Do Economists Make Bad Citizens?
Are political economists selfish and indoctrinated? Evidence from a natural experiment

On Aid and Growth and World Bank Research

"The influence of Easterly’s work has been equaled only by a series of papers and reports that use cross-country evidence to study how globalization affects poverty in countries with and without good policies. The paper by Craig Burnside and David Dollar published in the American Economic Review in 2000, “Aid, policies, and growth,” has currently 743 cites according to Google Scholar. Contrary to Easterly’s arguments, this paper, which argues that aid is effective in countries with good policies, has become the orthodoxy for those who are in favor of aid, and is cited in many prominent Bank documents. Dollar’s widely cited (893 cites on GS) paper with Aart Kraay on “Growth is good for the poor,” needs neither abstract nor summary. Another paper by Dollar and Kraay, in the Economic Journal in 2004, argues that countries that used large tariff cuts to open their trade to the beneficial effects of globalization have seen more poverty reduction than those that have not. Many of these arguments are brought together in a 2001 Policy Research Report on Globalization, growth, and poverty written by Dollar and Paul Collier. All of this work has had an enormous influence on the intellectual debates about globalization and poverty reduction and, to many around the world, it is seen as defining the World Bank’s position on these issues, as well as establishing the Bank’s intellectual leadership in the globalization debate.

The panel agrees that this provocative research program has set out some stimulating research questions, and applauds the Banks initial efforts. At the same time, however, we see a serious failure in the checks and balances within the system that has led to Bank to repeatedly trumpet these early empirical results without recognizing their fragile and tentative nature. As we shall argue, much of this line of research appears to have such deep flaws that, at present, the results cannot be regarded as remotely reliable, much as one might want to believe the results. There is a deeper problem here than simply a wrong assessment of provocative new research results. The problem is that in major Bank policy speeches and publications, it proselytized the new work without appropriate caveats on its reliability.

Unfortunately, as one reads the research more carefully, and as new results come in, it is becoming clear that the Bank seriously over-reached in prematurely putting its globalization, aid and poverty publications on a pedestal. Nor has it corrected itself to this day. We wish to emphasize that we, too, believe that countries with good policies and institutions are far more likely to benefit from aid than, say, countries with deep corruption and poor governance where aid can delay reform rather than enhancing it. There is a strong theoretical presumption in favor of this commonsense dictum. However, it is very unclear empirically where the line can be drawn, or which policies matter, and in our view, the jury is very much still out on any quantitative assessment of the issue. Nor does the panel challenge the Bank’s need to mount strong arguments in favor of its policies. Our problems are with the way that Bank research was used in the process, given the great credibility attached to what the Bank says.

Some of the Bank’s research on globalization, aid, policy, and poverty, was read by Francesco Caselli (LSE). He reviewed the Bank’s 1998 Policy Research Report Assessing Aid, written by Dollar and Lant Pritchett and which makes heavy use of the Burnside and Dollar argument that aid reduces poverty in countries with good policies. (The Burnside and Dollar results were then available as a 1997 Working Paper.) The argument is packaged for the broader policy community, and is used to argue for focusing aid on countries where there is both poverty and good policy. But as Caselli notes, subsequent studies, including a state-of-the-art study from the IMF that, although still within the tradition of cross-country regression work, is methodologically stronger than earlier work, have shown that the Burnside and Dollar results are not robust. It is possible to argue that the authors of Assessing Aid were simply unlucky, and that they could not to know that the ground on which they chose to take their stand was so deeply undermined. But the panel takes a somewhat different view. There is at the very least a good argument that it should have been clear from the outset that the evidence could not bear the weight that was placed by it in the arguments about, and justification for, Bank policy.

In spite of having been published in the American Economic Review, the Burnside and Dollar paper is unconvincing. The analysis uses an index of policy that combines the government surplus, the inflation rate, and an openness measure, at least two of which are measures of outcomes, not of policies (as is indeed recognized in later work by Collier and Dollar). It is also clear from the way in which this index is constructed that the results are not robust; attempts to work with all three measures fail, as does a principal components index, and the final index is constructed using a regression of growth on policy that is at best arbitrary, and at worst appears to be inconsistent with the main equation of interest. But this issue is dwarfed by the specter that haunts all of this literature, that external aid is not only a determinant of economic performance, but is determined by it. Burnside and Dollar conform to the previous (and subsequent) literature by using an instrumental variable technique, but this is a chicken-and-egg problem that is not readily resolved by mechanical means. In particular, it would require an unusually generous suspension of disbelief (even for cross-country regression analysis) to accept the identification assumption that the size of a country’s population, the (one period lag) of the share of its imports that come in the form or arms, and whether or not it is Egypt have no affect whatever on their economic growth rates except in so far as they affect its receipts of foreign aid. Again, we are not arguing that the Burnside and Dollar paper is weaker than most of the literature on aid effectiveness, but we are arguing that its results provide only the weakest of evidence for their central contention, that aid is effective when policies are sound.

The Bank did not appear to recognize the weakness of this evidence. Not only did it form the basis for the PRR Assessing Aid, but its results were built upon in a series of papers by Collier and Dollar that were published between 2001 and 2004 in the Economic Journal, in the European Economic Review, and in World Development. These papers use an arguably improved indicator of the quality of economic policy (derived as an average of scores by Bank staff on a number of dimensions) but they make no attempt to deal with the chicken and egg problem, arguing that because Burnside and Dollar’s results were very much the same whether or not they used instrumental variables, there is no need to worry. So their results, which go into the further Bank documents cited below, are derived by ordinary least squares regression. It is not clear why such an argument would hold for a different data set and different variables but, in any case, it is founded on the scarcely credible assertion that the identification assumption in Burnside and Dollar are valid. The Bank then built on this second round of work, giving it extended prominence in a 2002 book The Case for Aid, which brings together a speech by President Wolfensohn, a paper summarizing the Monterey consensus by Chief Economist Nicholas Stern, and a monograph-length substantial analysis “The role and effectiveness of development assistance,” by Ian Goldin, Halsey Rogers, and Stern, written for and presented at the Monterey conference. The monograph brings together evidence from a number of sources, but it contains detailed calculations of the effectiveness of current Bank aid, now directed to poor countries with good policies, as opposed to aid that is not so directed, including some of the Bank’s own previous lending.

We think that the Bank was unwise to place so much weight on one paper whose evidence is so unconvincing. At the same time, there was other work being done by Bank researchers, particularly by Easterly, that did not find aid effective, even conditional on good policies. That work shares many of the problems that are inherent in trying to use the cross-country evidence to make a solid inference about the effectiveness of aid. But the Bank reports prepared for Monterrey did not present a balanced picture of the research, with appropriate reservations and skepticism, but used it selectively to support an advocacy position. Once again, we emphasize that we do not think that the research was unusually weak relative to the literature. Nor do we challenge the appropriateness of the Bank’s making the best possible case for its policies. But once the evidence is chosen selectively without supporting argument, and empirical skepticism selectively suspended, the credibility and utility of the Bank’s research is threatened.

There is a similar set of issues with the paper “Growth is good for the poor” which is sometimes used to argue that, in the presence of economic growth, explicit anti-poverty measures are redundant. Yet, here too, there are serious questions about whether the conclusion is really supported by the evidence. Their measure of the incomes of the poor (the average per capita income in the bottom fifth of the population) is derived from aggregate national income using either estimates of the share of the bottom quintile from surveys, or from estimates of Gini coefficients of income inequality together with the assumption that incomes are distributed according to the lognormal distribution. The problem is that many of the estimates of the income shares and of the Gini coefficients are quite imprecisely measured and, when the data are uninformative about the true level of inequality, Dollar and Kraay’s procedure guarantees that, on average, the incomes of the poor will track average income. If the Gini coefficients were random numbers, the conclusion would be guaranteed. So, in the end, we do not know how much of the result is genuine, and how much is driven by errors in the data.

In this case too, there was a very different view in other Bank research, in this case by Branko Milanovic, who was providing extensive empirical evidence of increasing income and consumption inequalities in the world, and taking a much more jaundiced view of the benefits for the poor of growth and of globalization. Milanovic’s results have been criticized by others, and the panel takes no view on the issue, but there is certainly no consensus that his findings are incorrect. Yet once again, the official position of the Bank gave selective prominence to one set of views (for example, in the Monterrey document), although it is does not appear to the panel that one set of results is any stronger than the other."
-Evaluation of Bank Research

Aid, Policies, and Growth data set
Aid, Policies, and Growth: Revisiting the Evidence
Aid, Policy and Growth: A Threshold Hypothesis
Ten Reforms to Make the World More Conducive to Development
Globalization’s Assassin

Blogs of the Day

A Jihad for Love

Chapati Mystery

Top Econometrics Blogs;
Columbia Stats
Statistics Consulting Blog
Institute for Quantitative Social Science
Guy's Econometrics blog

The many contradictions of Pakistan

The Bhutto Complex;
On April 4th, 1979, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the overthrown Prime Minister of Pakistan and the father of Benazir Bhutto, was hanged by the State of Pakistan under the military dictator Zia ul Haq.

Zulfiqar Bhutto was an incredibly charismatic and popular leader [known for his fiery presence at the U.N. as Pakistan's Foreign Minister] but he was filled with contradictions. He was an intellectual who came from landed elite. He was schooled in the best of places and was bourgeoisie yet claimed to speak for the people with socialist convictions. He rose to prominence not from the mass politics but from the inner halls of bureaucratic power under the dictator General Ayub. When he became the Foreign Minister of Pakistan, in 1963, he wanted Pakistan on the forefront of Islamic countries and South Asia instead he stoked the fires in Kashmir. He hated the military but all of his best friends were military men. He was the most trusted man Ayub had but, in 1969, his own political ambition led him to create the political party [PPP - Pakistan's People Party] and, subsequently, topple Ayub. He instituted industrial and land reform but the only beneficiaries were landlords and industrialists. He gave speech after speech on the terrors of landholding exploiters of the people but he remained a landholder and courted the landed elite as his base. He promised 18 acres of land to each peasant and they got, well, nothing. From 1972 to 1977, he shaped Pakistan in his fractured image. More than anything, it was his death which came to symbolize the end of civil power in Pakistan.

Zulfiqar Bhutto was a popular PM. Perhaps, the most popular figure in the history of the nation. After his execution and Zia's long tenure of military dictatorship, Benazir Bhutto emerged as the hope of millions and the spearhead for democracy. The day she returned to Pakistan for the first time in 1986, those millions turned out to welcome her. The cult of personality that had built up around her father, herself, her brothers, her uncles, grew larger and larger but her tenure was just as maddenigly contradictory as her fathers. She courted the Islamists as much as she let the Army dictate her government. She tried to be the voice of feminism and modernity yet failed to do anything substantial for the rights of women and minority in her nation.

Benazir Bhutto is reportedly working on a deal that will bring her to power in Pakistan in companionship with Pervez Musharraf.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Quote of the Day

De Long ends a lecture with;

Next time, I'll talk about Adolf Hitler, whose big problem--besides being a bloodthirsty persuasive paranoid genocidal psychopath, that is--is that he pays to much attention to (a) Malthus, (b) social darwinists, and (c) cowboy novels.

Free Text Books

Two books by John Erdman;

A Companion to Real Analysis

A ProblemText in Advanced Calculus

Lecture Notes in Microeconomic Theory: The Economic Agent by Ariel Rubinstein

Bargaining and Markets

Related blog which claims links to Free Books

A nasty little bug in Excel 2007

-Arithmetic Is Hard--To Get Right(The Wolfram Blog)

Where are they now

Tony Blair at Clinton Global Initiative.

Podcast of the Day-Socrates the Man and Myth

From In Our Time- Socrates

Budapest-The Golden Years

von Neumann Memorial Lectures;

A panel discussion of John von Neumann, Hungarian education, and early twentieth century mathematics, Budapest: The Golden Years is the first of two public events that comprise the von Neumann Memorial Lectures. The event is sponsored by the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies and the John Templeton Foundation.

The panel will use their familiarity with the life, times, and person of John von Neumann to explore the circumstances of his education and upbringing, as well as those of the many other creative and productive mathematicians and scientists from that time and place. The panel will attempt to bring to life for the audience the spirit of Hungary in those years.

The starting point for the discussion is The Social Construction of Hungarian Genius, 1867–1930, a paper by Professor Tibor Frank, an historian of Hungarian exiles.

The Courageous Monks

Myanmar and the world
The outside world shares responsibility for the unfolding tragedy in Myanmar
LIKE North Korea's Workers' Party, another vile dictatorship that has visited misery and penury on its own people, Myanmar's junta has survived in part through diplomatic triangulation. Like North Korea, it has borne isolation and rhetorical hostility from the West by cosying up to the neighbours, notably China. And it has tried to avoid total subservience to any one of these by playing them off against each other....

Western and Indian analysts worry that China sees Myanmar as part of its so-called “string of pearls” policy of building naval and intelligence bases around the Indian Ocean. There were reports that China was delivering signals equipment for monitoring stations on various coastal sites, and had a permanent presence on Great Coco Island (see map). Such talk has fuelled Indian paranoia, though Western analysts dismiss it.

Border trade, through the thriving, sleazy town of Ruili, also boomed. In the 1990s it included opium and heroin; shared needles produced China's first HIV epidemic, helping teach China the importance of “stability” in its neighbour.

In recent years the economic relationship has been transformed by China's hunger for energy and its involvement in big infrastructure projects. According to EarthRights International, an American NGO, Chinese firms are by now involved in about 40 hydropower projects and at least 17 onshore and offshore oil-and-gas projects. They have also announced plans to build a 2,400km (1,500 mile) oil-and-gas pipeline from Arakan in western Myanmar to China's Yunnan province."

See also The Irrawaddy

Monday, September 24, 2007

There are many ways to make a fool of one-self

President Lee C. Bollinger's 'introductory comments';

Let me close with this comment. Frankly, and in all candor, Mr. President, I doubt that you will have the intellectual courage to answer these questions. But your avoiding them will in itself be meaningful to us. I do expect you to exhibit the fanatical mindset that characterizes so much of what you say and do. Fortunately, I am told by experts on your country, that this only further undermines your position in Iran with all the many good-hearted, intelligent citizens there. A year ago, I am reliably told, your preposterous and belligerent statements in this country (as in your meeting at the Council on Foreign Relations) so embarrassed sensible Iranian citizens that this led to your party’s defeat in the December mayoral elections. May this do that and more.

I am only a professor, who is also a university president, and today I feel all the weight of the modern civilized world yearning to express the revulsion at what you stand for. I only wish I could do better.

See also Juan Cole's commentary;

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to New York to address the United Nations General Assembly has become a media circus. But the controversy does not stem from the reasons usually cited.

The media has focused on debating whether he should be allowed to speak at Columbia University on Monday, or whether his request to visit Ground Zero, the site of the Sept. 11 attack in lower Manhattan, should have been honored. His request was rejected, even though Iran expressed sympathy with the United States in the aftermath of those attacks and Iranians held candlelight vigils for the victims. Iran felt that it and other Shiite populations had also suffered at the hands of al-Qaida, and that there might now be an opportunity for a new opening to the United States.

Instead, the U.S. State Department denounced Ahmadinejad as himself little more than a terrorist. Critics have also cited his statements about the Holocaust or his hopes that the Israeli state will collapse. He has been depicted as a Hitler figure intent on killing Israeli Jews, even though he is not commander in chief of the Iranian armed forces, has never invaded any other country, denies he is an anti-Semite, has never called for any Israeli civilians to be killed, and allows Iran's 20,000 Jews to have representation in Parliament. . .

The real reason his visit is controversial is that the American right has decided the United States needs to go to war against Iran. Ahmadinejad is therefore being configured as an enemy head of state.

Assorted Accounting

Great Moments in Accounting;

Thanks to a relatively new accounting rule, firms like Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs last quarter booked hundreds of millions of dollars in gains based on worsening perceptions of their own creditworthiness.

How does that work? If the market decides a company is a bigger credit risk and starts demanding fatter risk premiums to buy its debt, the value of its existing debt falls. Under a rule being phased in throughout corporate America known as Financial Accounting Statement No. 159, that same logic applies to a company’s own debt. Companies that mark their liabilities to a market price, as Wall Street usually does, thus record as revenue a drop in the value of their own debt obligations.

In essence, they make money because they owe less.

Accounting experts said the exercise is perfectly legitimate, particularly if firms that mark liabilities to market do the same with their assets. At the same time, it highlights one of the ironies of so-called fair value accounting. “If you have a liability that declines in value because your credit worsens, you have a gain,” said Stephen Ryan, associate professor of accounting at New York University’s Stern School of Business.

But Moody’s Investors Service said buyers should beware of gains booked when brokers mark down their own debt liabilities. “Moody’s does not consider such gains to be high-quality, core earnings,” it said in a report issued Friday.

A misleading obsession with share prices

Ignore the wisdom of accounting at your own risk;

It was - rather surprisingly - Goethe who declared that double entry bookkeeping was the loveliest invention of the human mind. I doubt if the great German intellectual was thinking of his country's trading relationships with the US or the fiscal policy of the newly founded American republic. But double-entry bookkeeping is the key to understanding when deficits matter and when they do not.

The double-entry principle is that whenever there is a debt there is a credit. If there is a deficit, there is a corresponding surplus in the same column of someone else's books, and a corresponding surplus in a different column of your own books. America's trade deficit is, necessarily, a trade surplus for the rest of the world. The deficit that attracts attention is a deficit on current account: Americans buying more goods than they sell. There is therefore a matching surplus on capital account: the corollary of the current account deficit is that the rest of the world buys more dollar assets than it sells. These principles are as relevant to the public sector as to the books of private companies.

A good system of management accounts defines its categories so that deficits signal when management action is required. If a shop makes a profit on men's clothing and a loss on women's clothing, it needs to do something about the women's clothing division. But accounting expertise requires business judgment. An airline may lose money on its short-haul routes and make profits on long-haul operations, but only by understanding the business will you learn whether this is bad management or good strategy. Whether deficits matter depends on the context.

Three distinctions are particularly important to national accounts - those between capital and income items, those between public and private activities and those between domestic and foreign transactions. The capital-income balance indicates whether you are building for the future, the private-public balance spells out the implications for future levels of taxation and the domestic-foreign balance is a guide to the future course of your currency.

Auditors need to escape the Prisoner's Dilemma

IMF at Club of Rome

A recent speech of IMF's Managing Director Rodrigo de Rato,

Aurelio Peccei and Alexander King were visionaries, and one of the fruits of their vision was the first formulation of the book "Limits to Growth," since updated several times. I think that we have yet to find out whether there are binding limits to growth. For my part, I am optimistic about the prospects for long-term, sustainable growth. I believe that even where resources are finite, there is still scope for technological progress and for improvements in the way resources are used, which can lead to a continuing improvement in people's standards of living. But I certainly believe that there are tensions that accompany growth, and we are currently seeing these in several areas

I would like to talk today about tensions arising in three areas. First, tensions in financial globalization—the very substantial increases in flows of capital across borders. These tensions are evident in the current turmoil in credit markets, and I will talk briefly about their implications for the global economy and the lessons we should draw from the recent turbulence. Second, tensions in the area of environmental policy and, specifically, the challenge of dangerous climate change, which is the most pressing environmental issue of the day. Finally, tensions coming from demographic change and, specifically, the effects and policy challenges for governments arising from aging populations....

An International Monetary Fund staff team headed by Jaime Caruana, who many of you will remember was previously Governor of the Bank of Spain, will be releasing a detailed report on global financial stability issues later today in Washington...

However, we now expect that global growth in 2008, while still high by historical standards, will be slightly lower than in 2006 or 2007. We also believe that risks to this projection of a modest decline in growth are mostly tilted to the downside. In particular, if the financial market turbulence turns out to be prolonged, the impact on the global economy could be substantial. The Fund will present its World Economic Outlook—a detailed assessment of global economic prospects—in about a month, just ahead of our Annual Meetings...

How then can policy makers channel this effort to overcome the externalities of man-made climate change? I believe that they should look for answers in the same place that the problem originates: in economics. Policy makers around the world need a reasoned assessment of the economic costs and benefits of climate change and of the policies that can be adopted to combat it. These include policies to mitigate climate change—to prevent what can be prevented—and also policies to adapt to climate change—to respond to what cannot be prevented. The International Monetary Fund has a role to play here, too. The World Economic Outlook that we will present in October will discuss estimates that others have made of the economic costs of climate change. It will also consider some of the economic issues involved in the choice of methods to mitigate climate change—especially the main options of imposing taxes on greenhouse gas emissions or of setting caps on them, combined with a system of internationally traded emissions permits. It will also discuss some of the economic issues involved in adaptation to climate change by countries. This is just the beginning of the Fund's work—we will have more to say in the following World Economic Outlook, which will be published in the Spring—and what the Fund is doing is only part of the work that needs to be done. Other international institutions are working on other aspects of the problem. And cooperation between international organizations and between governments will be needed to solve the problem. But with reason and with political will, I believe it can be solved....

Older populations are likely to produce less, because the active labor force is a smaller part of the population. For example, in the euro area, there are at present about four people in the age range 15-65 for every one over 65. By 2050, that ratio is projected to be closer to two to one....

The Club of Rome

Photo of the Day- Castro reads Greenspan

He also held up a copy of the new book by former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, "The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World." At one point he read passages from the book.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Help Wanted- Stuck with a T-Mobile

Please advice me on the best mobile phone service providers in New York- I took a T-Mobile plan (which has very poor connection inside buildings in up-town New York )and was told that I could change the plan or disconnect the service after paying a charge of 200 dollars.

A stooge Dalai Lama and other podcasts

Tackling Indonesian terror

Democracy - Singapore style

A stooge Dalai Lama; The future of the worldwide Anglican communion
China has announced that in future it will control the re-incarnation of senior Tibetan lamas, including the Dalai Lama. Already there are two Penchan lamas - the real one, and the Communist stooge. Does China now intend to create its own state sanctioned Dalai Lama?
Also, the primate of the Anglican Church in Australia, Archbishop Phillip Aspinall of Brisbane, flies off to a crucial meeting in New-Orleans this week with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the bishops of the Episcopal Church in the United States over the consecration of gay bishops and the blessing of same-sex unions. The future of the worldwide Anglican communion is hanging in the balance.

The Word of God Times Three: Part 3
How do Muslims understand the revelation of God to Muhammad? The final in a series looking at Jewish, Christian and Muslim beliefs concerning the Word of God and how it was transmitted.

The Word of God Times Three: Part 2
Frank Peters, from New York University, explains the Christian understanding of Revelation, and how they came to possess a different Old Testament to the Jews.

The Astrolabe in Medieval Islam

Dante's Divine Comedy

Morality and restraint
There are poor children starving in Africa, so you should really eat up your food, shouldn't you? Perhaps you should, but why are their needs morally more significant than your desire for enjoyment.

The psychological power of forgiveness in South Africa

The history of air

The great global warming debate

King Kong, Charles Darwin and the Irish Fenians

500th anniversary of an outbreak of sweating fever
Medical Historian Dr Jim Leavesley from Margaret River, Western Australia, talks about the history of the epidemic of sweating fever, from the first outbreak in 1507 to the last one in 1551.

Risk assessment
Professor Joseph Arvai from Michigan State University talks about how we judge risks and respond to them

The link between maleness and autism characteristics

Iran: Nukes, the French and the U.S.A.
Over the past week the threats of an attack on Iran over its nuclear program have stepped up a notch, with the French Foreign Minister saying, "We have to prepare for the worst, and the worst is war".

Russ Roberts of EconTalk

Books Recommendations

Contours of the World Economy 1-2030 AD-Essays in Macro-Economic History
Angus Maddison

(Not yet published according to Oxford, but available according to Blackwell)

Tutorial for Next Week

Discuss the following;
In short, Sri Lanka is a textbook case of how globalization works. Where there is liberalization, the economy booms; where there is no reform, the economy stagnates.

-Dr. Shanta Devarajan, the Chief Economist of the South Asia Region at the World Bank

Six Transformations in China 960-2030 AD

A forthcoming speech of Angus Maddison at ADBI;

1.) Intensive and extensive growth in the Sung dynasty 960-1280, when per capita income rose by a third and population almost doubled. There was a major shift in the centre of gravity of the economy. In the eighth century three-quarters of the population lived in North China, where the main crops were wheat and millet. By the end of the thirteenth, three-quarters lived south of the Yangtze. This area had been swampy and lightly-settled, but with irrigation and early ripening seeds, it provided an ideal opportunity for massive development of rice cultivation. There was also a significant opening to the world economy in the southern Sung, Yuan and early Ming dynasties (1130 to 1433), which ended abruptly when China withdrew, at a time when its maritime technology was superior to that of Europe.

2.) After a long period of mediocre progress and episodic setbacks, the second transformation occurred between 1700 and 1820, when population rose nearly threefold (much faster than in Europe and Japan), with no fall in per capita income. This achievement was possible because of accelerated use of dry-land crops from the Americas (maize, sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes and peanuts), which could be grown in hilly, sandy and mountainous areas. There was also a huge expansion of the national territory and closer control of docile tributary states. China remained isolated from the outside world and repudiated British efforts to establish relations at the end of the eighteenth century.

3.) Because of technological backwardness, and weakness of governance, there was a third transformation from 1840 to 1950. China suffered from internal conflict and collusive foreign intrusions on its territory and sovereignty. The economic results were disastrous. Chinese GDP fell from a third to a twentieth of the world total, and per capita income fell in a period when it rose threefold in Japan, fourfold in Europe and eightfold in the USA.

4.) The fourth transformation in the Maoist period (1950-78), saw a significant recovery of per capita income, but growth was interrupted by disastrous economic and social experiments, wars with Korea, India and Viet Nam, and long years of almost complete autarchy.

5.) In the fifth transformation (1978-2003), China reversed the Maoist policies and adopted a pragmatic reformism which was successful in sparking off growth much faster than in all other parts of the world economy. There were large, once-for-all, gains in efficiency in agriculture, an explosive expansion of foreign trade and accelerated absorption of foreign technology through large-scale foreign direct investment.

6.) In the sixth transformation (2003-2030), catch-up will continue, but the pace of progress will slacken as China gets nearer to the technological frontier. Maddison has assumed that per capita income will grow at an average rate of 4.5 per cent a year between 2003 and 2030, but that the rate of advance will taper off over the period. Specifically, he assumes a rate of 5.6 per cent a year to 2010, 4.6 percent between 2010 and 2020, and a little more than 3.6 per cent a year from 2020 to 2030. By then, it will have reached the per capita level of western Europe and Japan around 1990. As it approaches this level, technical advance will be more costly as imitation is replaced by innovation. China will overtake the USA as number one economy in terms of GDP, will produce nearly a quarter of world GDP by 2030. Its geopolitical leverage will certainly be greater then than now.

Assorted on Sri Lanka

Unleashing Sri Lanka's Potential-I

Unleashing Sri Lanka's Potential-II
In short, Sri Lanka is a textbook case of how globalization works. Where there is liberalization, the economy booms; where there is no reform, the economy stagnates.
- World Bank's Chief Economist for South Asia

Poverty Assessment for Sri Lanka: Engendering Growth with Equity: Opportunities and Challenges

Sri Lanka's Sources of Growth
Summary: This paper uses the growth accounting framework to assess Sri Lanka's sources of growth. It finds that while labor was the dominant factor contributing to growth in the 1980s, labor's contribution declined over time and was overtaken, to a large extent, by total factor productivity (TFP) and, to a lower extent, by physical and human capital accumulation. A higher growth path over the medium term will depend on securing a stable political and macroeconomic environment; implementing structural reforms necessary to improve productivity and efficiency of investment; attaining fiscal consolidation; and creating space for the private sector.

Sri Lanka: Selected Issues

Creating poverty maps for Sri Lanka

Economic Challenges of Post-Tsunami Reconstruction in Sri Lanka

Top Ten Dirtiest

World's Worst Polluted Places 2007

Friday, September 21, 2007

You Tube Lecture- A New Kind of Science

Stephen Wolfram on A New Kind of Science

The Brand Clinton Created

The impact of the Clinton brand has been increased considerably by its institutionalisation in the Clinton Foundation. Despite its name, this is really a non-governmental organisation, not a classic grant-making foundation, though there are plans to raise an endowment. It takes to a new level the post-presidential activism pioneered by Jimmy Carter—though the Carter brand occupies a specialist niche by comparison with the Clinton brand's mass-market appeal. Founded in 1997 to oversee the building of the Clinton Presidential Library, the foundation is now a global organisation that both runs programmes in areas such as fighting HIV/AIDS, poverty and climate change, and also helps other philanthropists develop programmes of their own.

Mr Clinton has not reinvented philanthropy, as some claim, but he does espouse a businesslike approach to giving money that is now fashionable among the new rich. He calls these philanthropists “bleeding-heart cheapskates”: they are “not naive, they don't want to waste a lot of money, they like low administrative overhead, they measure pretty ruthlessly for return.”

Mr Clinton's greatest success so far has been cutting the price of anti-retroviral drugs for AIDS victims in poor countries. This involved negotiating bulk-purchase agreements with generic drugmakers. Although critics say that an arrangement of this sort was on the cards before Mr Clinton got involved, at the very least he accelerated it, benefiting many people. Now he is trying to repeat this trick to mitigate climate change by co-ordinating bulk-purchase agreements between the governments of some of the world's biggest cities and makers of low-energy products.

Partnership is the essence of brand Clinton. Anti-retrovirals are supplied to poor children jointly with the Children's Investment Fund Foundation of Chris Hohn, a hedge-fund boss. In 2006 the Clinton Hunter Development Initiative to promote sustainable growth in Africa launched with $100m from Sir Tom Hunter, a British billionaire. This year brought the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative to create alternative jobs in mining communities: $100m from Frank Giustra, a mining mogul, inspired matching sums from Lukas Lundin and Carlos Slim of Mexico, the world's richest man. “This ought to be a multi-billion-dollar effort,” says Mr Clinton. “Twenty-four other mining firms want to contribute, so this could get very big in a hurry.”

The CGI, a sort of “Philanthropy Oscars” launched in 2005, is Mr Clinton's annual pulpit to evangelise a philanthropic boom that he says is still only in its early stages. The CGI's 1,000 participants—65% from business—must pledge some good work, which they must accomplish or show progress towards, if they are to be invited back. Most honour their pledges, Mr Clinton insists, though it is hard to be sure since there is no naming and shaming. He says that 14 people were not allowed back last year.

-How Bill Clinton became a leading brand in the giving industry

Why the World is more complex than we think

Just some flyer's that I came across in NY;

The Economics of Begging

In Pakistan;
Beggars in Lahore can earn more than 20,000 rupees a month, by some estimates—a far cry more than the roughly 4,600 rupees per month people earn on average in Pakistan.

In US;
According to Pancoast, begging can be lucrative. He claims the family sometimes makes $300 a day asking for money and has made as much as $800. The family also receives $500 a month in food stamps.

In India;
Out of the 5,000 or so beggars surveyed on the streets by Delhi University's Social Work Department this year, four held postgraduate degrees and begged on weekends to supplement their salaries, six held college degrees, and 796 had studied to the secondary level. In Mumbai, the city's 300,000 beggars collectively earn an estimated Rs180 crore (more than $45 million) a year.

In Indonesia;
"I earn Rp 30,000 a day from begging. I would not get that much if I was still selling vegetables. I also expect to earn more in Ramadhan," she said.

Lelah, 38, also hopes Ramadhan will be a profitable month. She traveled with her three children from Sukabumi to Bogor two weeks ago to start begging at the Baranangsiang bus terminal.

Thanks to FP blog.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Time Management Tips from Bob Solow

"Everything reminds Milton Friedman of the money supply. Everything reminds me of sex, but I try to keep it out of my papers."
- Robert Solow

You might remember him from the article, A Contribution to the Theory of Economic Growth. He also happens to have got a Nobel for it. Here’s some original time management tips from the maestro (emphasis mine).

If you see something that needs doing, do it. It is not easy to for me to explain what I mean by this guideline, but I think it has been deeply ingrained in me for a long time. I rather believe that I was once promoted to Acting Corporal at the age of 19 because of this trait. I suppose that it entails a partial contradiction of the conventional injunction to get your priorities straight before acting. To my mind, the priorities are not so certain that one ought to pass up any opportunity to get something useful done. Perhaps it also reflects my belief that much more good is done by tinkering than by starting over from scratch. I claim for this approach that it fits in with the Hippocratic injunction to the doctor to “do no harm” and that gradient methods are a good all-purpose recipe for local optimization. What about global optimizations? Good point. I suppose I worry that enthusiastic seekers after global maxima run the risk of falling off steep cliffs. On the bad side, I know I sometimes find myself doing meaningless busywork when I could presumably spend my time at something more useful. My wife reminds me that once, when we discovered that the automatic wake-up mechanism in our hotel room was not working, I spent an hour and a half trying to fix it. (I got it to work. Once.) No recipe for coping is perfect.

-Eminent Economists Their Life Philosophies, p. 271-2

Nobel Interview
Solow, Bhagwati, Krugman Evaluate the Human Cost of Trade, Economic Liberalization
The U.S. Economy: The Last 50 Years and the Next 50 Years
The Embodiment Question

Prize Lecture

Mysteries of Growth

Solow's Surprise: Investment is not the Key to Growth ch. 3 of Easterly

Aliens Have Landed

Peruvians get sick from apparent meteorite crater

Oil on the Brain - Book Event

Oil On the Brain: Adventures from the Pump to the Pipeline, Lisa Margonelli

Mankiw's Macroeconomics- Most Popular Titles at World Bank

From World Bank-IMF Library, current top titles include the following amongst others;

Mankiw's Macroeconomics

Equity analysis : assessing value, forecasting performance / Eve Harvey.

The Oxfam handbook of development and relief

Sovereign wealth management

The collected writings of John Maynard Keynes.

Audio-tech business book summaries

The bottom billion : why the poorest countries are failing and what can be done about it

Methodology for current account and exchange rate assessments

Practical introduction to financial modelling / Robert E. Graham.

Model rules of professional conduct

Growing Public: Social Spending and Economic Growth since the Eighteenth Century

International economics : theory and policy

For Comment; What books do you think World Bankers should be reading?

You-Tube of the Day- The White Man's Burden

Can the West Save the Rest?

Marx, Rostow, Kuznets, Gerschenkron

Lecture of the Day from Brad Delong

Teaching Using Podcasts

For Discussion: Should professors use podcasts in teaching?

Some people who do;

Brad Delong

Professor Richard Robb at Columbia University

Egypt and Female Circumscision

Why is that every time NYT writes up Egypt, it's a about female circumcision.

The End of America

Naomi Wolf on the Colbert Report

Fascist America, in 10 easy steps

Coming Soon to the Blogosphere, Hopefully

Rodrik is doing his best to convince them.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Development Blog of the Day

Shantayanan Devarajan, Chief Economist, South Asia Region, World Bank Group has started a blog


DeLong Wants Fed's Focus on Financial System Regulation
Bradford DeLong, an economics professor at the University of California at Berkeley, talks about the Federal Reserve's role in the regulation of the U.S. financial system, investing in stocks versus bonds, and DeLong's assessment of former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan.

Kahn of UCLA Says New York, Los Angeles Are Green Cities

Dedrick Calls U.S. Trade Gap Calculation `Misleading'

Linden of Berkeley Says Apple's iPod `Doing Very Nicely'

Varian of Google Says Internet Needs To Be More Global
Hal Varian, chief economist at Google Inc., talks about the outlook for Internet search technology, the third edition of his textbook "Microeconomic Analysis," and improving the efficiency of information gathering. Google is the owner of the world's largest Internet search engine. Varian and Keene spoke at the annual meeting of the National Association for Business Economics

The Civil-Military Divide
As a result of the drop in American public support for the war in Iraq, members of the military and their families are feeling increasingly isolated and misunderstood as they bear the brunt for simply carrying out orders. However, this also highlights a divide which has existed between members of America's civil and military establishments since Vietnam. In fact surveys reveal that elite members of civil and military institutions remain suspicious of one another, and continue to harbour strong negative stereotypes about the other. It turns out this has wide-reaching implications for government policy, particularly on the way wars are waged. On Late Night Live we explore the history of this divide and look at how a more coordinated approach to Iraq - one which included greater civilian and even humanitarian input - might have turned out.

C. Peter McColough Series on International Economics: A Conversation with Peter Mandelson

Greenspan on the Daily Show

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad comes to NY

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is going to speak at the World Leader's Forum at Columbia University next Monday.

Post your questions in the comments section.

Iran blocks access to Google and Gmail
Why Bush won't attack Iran
Iran warns U.S. of crushing response
Ahmadinejad Spars With CFR Members

Olmert makes a bid for peace through strength;
On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he was interested in holding peace talks with Syria, without precondition.
We want to make peace… we are willing to make peace with Syria unconditionally and without demands. I have a lot of respect for the Syrian leader and the Syrian policy.

Taken by itself, the offer is a strange one, as it requires the Syrians to do absolutely nothing. However, when viewed in light of recent events, it makes sense. Allegedly, the Israelis conducted an air strike against a Syrian nuclear facility earlier this month. Now, a few weeks later, Olmert offers to talk to the Syrians "unconditionally".