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Index: Economics and Finance

Pin- and pencil-making in the twenty-first century, 2.

Brent Ranalli: ‘What if we let go of the prissy public/private distinction Kant made for the sake of the Prussian censors, and recognized that it would be unbecoming of an enlightened adult to show abject and blind obedience to anyone at all, even an employer? There are a variety of structures available to give people more autonomy and dignity in the workplace, some more radical than others—including several with established track records of viability in the global marketplace.’

The Work Programme.

UPLANDS B BUSINESS PARK, BLACKHORSE LANE, SUMMER 2011 By IAN BOURN. TODAY IS BRIGHT and cloudless in the Uplands B Business Park, which overlooks the Lea Valley and its sunlit reservoirs. I lock my bicycle to some railings near the rubbish bins in the car park of Landmark House. I could have come by bus, […]

Pin- and pencil-making in the twenty-first century.

Brent Ranalli: ‘To delegate the function of a governing class to the masses is one thing. To impute the virtues of a governing class onto the masses is quite another matter, and here it takes concerted effort to make reality conform to doctrine. Public schools are the engines that turn children into citizens, citizens putatively armed with enough knowledge of history, art, music, grammar, science, mathematics, social studies, and gymnastics to be passible Whole Men and Whole Women, capable of taking a broad view and intelligently directing the affairs of a nation in the few waking hours that aren’t devoted to making a living.’

Fun with unemployment numbers in America.

Jim Clifton: ‘While you are as unemployed as one can possibly be, and tragically may never find work again, you are not counted in the figure we see relentlessly in the news — currently 5.6%. Right now, as many as 30 million Americans are either out of work or severely underemployed. Trust me, the vast majority of them aren’t throwing parties to toast “falling” unemployment.’

The drachma and the dominoes.

Liam Halligan: Let what is now happening in Europe serve as a reminder, a 28 million decibel wake-up call that serious economic debate matters and matters a lot. Attempts to dismiss or even suppress it, because it’s “hard” or “boring”, have very real human consequences.

What kind of happiness leaves no room for puppies and warm guns?

By the turn of the century, it was becoming clear that GDP was an increasingly inadequate tool even in purely economic terms; in a knowledge-driven Internet age, economic success depended on elements that were not being measured in GDP, such as the education level of the workforce, their health, and whether the whole system was sustainable in terms of the way we were using natural resources.

Affluence, comfort, and ‘the silken web of managerialism’.

Walter Weisskopf: Max Weber talked about the iron cage of industrialism in which the individual is imprisoned. What we are oppressed by today is the silken web of managerialism that does not oppress directly but bribes us into submission by incredible affluence and comforts.

Who’s dumb enough to promote loans to governments?

In 1934, the German government announced it was no longer paying on Dawes bonds. By 1936, 35% of the sovereign bonds floated in New York in the 1920s were in default—an experience similar to defaults on subprime mortgages in our own time. The vast majority of the sovereign debt that had been created by World War I also defaulted.

Among ‘Vanished Kingdoms’, whose is next?

For even the mightiest sovereigns, eventual collapse is a safer bet than indefinite life. But there is a line separating awareness of unpleasant historical facts from fatalistic acceptance, and Mr. Davies, both in conversation and in his work, treads it watchfully.

The colonization of Greece.

The Greek economy must become more competitive through across-the-board wage cuts, allowing the country to export its way back to economic health. But that hoped-for export boom could take years to materialize. Meanwhile, falling wages will only deepen Greece’s recession, making the government’s debt burden—still large even after the restructuring—harder to bear.

Greek fire and the crowds in Athens.

The crisis will not end until Greeks understand that they must live off what they produce, and adopt the policies that enable them to produce more. The larger question is whether the rest of Europe and America will learn from Greece’s chaos before they experience the same fate.

The many ways newspapers say ‘Greek crisis’.

Aleka Papariga, the communist party leader, warned of “all-out war”. After two years of being subjected to relentless tax rises, wage and pension cuts, the prospect of state entities being closed, with mass sackings, loss of benefits and even lower wages would prove the tipping point for Greeks.

A new sign above the eurozone: ‘This way out’.

The EU specifies with great detail how candidate countries can qualify for euro membership, but it offers no recipe for exit or expulsion. A natural possibility would be to start by throwing out the least qualified members, based on lack of fiscal discipline or other economic criteria.

Bureaucratic overgrazing and the tragedy of the common currency.

All around us we see examples of cases where common pool resource problems persist, at least until there is a major crisis. Parties disagree, occasionally on the magnitude or nature of the overall problem, but most often, on the sharing of the costs and benefits of addressing it.

‘A reversal of the process of European financial integration.’

Banks and investment funds in one euro-using country gorged on the bonds of others, freed of worry about devaluation-prone currencies like the drachma, lira, peseta and escudo. But as the devaluation danger waned, another risk grew, almost unseen by investors: the chance that governments, no longer backed by national central banks, could default.