Smart Links 28 July 2011

Articles on voodoo economics, when an idea becomes true, mathematical beauty, reflections after 11 years of reporting on the US economy, remaining hopeful on US debt default, in Europe the kids aren’t all right, an expensive Alabama haircut, George Soros’ exit, hard evidence of the bubble in gold, Chinese inflation explained, and about beards.

George Bush the first President had it right.

Financial Times – Don’t Put Faith in Voodoo Tax Cuts
Remember voodoo economics?

The magic 10% didn’t convince the people leaving comments.

Science Blog – Minority Rules: Scientists Discover the Tipping Point for the Spread of Ideas
Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found that when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society.

The unmatchable beauty of mathematical forms.

Scientific American – The Unreasonable Beauty of Mathematics [Slide Show]
If you shut yourself in a room and devise some abstract mathematics for the sake of sheer intellectual fascination, you might not expect your scribblings to have any relevance to the real world.


Eleven bad years.

New York Times – Lessons from the Malaise
When I began covering the American economy 11 years ago, it was the envy of the world.

Quote worth quoting.

“When it comes to economics, we know that a market economy with a significant government role is the only proven model of success.”

Old sage preaches calm.

Telegraph – The Kabuki Theatre of America’s Debt Ceiling
Calm down.

Unhappy kids in Europe.

Independent – IMG Chief Warns of Social Unrest in Europe
The new head of the International Monetary Fund warned European leaders of the possibility of social instability as a result of the eurozone's economic problems.

Greece comes to Alabama.

Yahoo – Facing A Debt Hit in Alabama
In a move to avoid the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, holders of more than $3 billion in debt issued by Jefferson County, Ala., are working on a rescue that would leave them with steep losses.

George Soros decides to exit the money management business.

Market Watch – George Soros Follows His Own Advice
Iconic billionaire George Soros has decided to return money to outside investors in his $25 billion hedge fund after more than four decades at the helm.

Got gold? Time to sell.

Economist – Turning Gold into Dross
WHILE equity and bond markets have remained relatively sanguine regarding the impasse in negotiations on America's debt ceiling, gold nevertheless achieved another (nominal) high today, at $1,622.


Thinking about inflation in China.

Project Syndicate – China’s Inflation Muddle
Even as the debt crises in Europe and the United States loom large and the global economic recovery falters, inflation is making a comeback worldwide.

On beards.

New York Times – What Your Beard Says About You
FOUR years ago, I grew the first full beard of my adult life on a whim.



The National Beard Registry

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Twin Virtues: Inequality of Outcomes & Equality of Opportunity©

Twin Virtues

Ultimately, the most successful societies find the balance between the twin virtues of inequality of outcomes and equality of opportunity.

The new politics must marry the twin virtues of unequal outcomes and equality of opportunity.

When too few get too much everybody loses.

Feminism is about women living their lives on their own terms, marshalling the resources of the society to make that possible, and men embracing this as vital to a successful society and their own liberation.

Can it be that striving for equality of opportunity however imperfect the process not only benefits the individual but also creates benefits for the society that are unintended but wonderful?

Economics must be a 'moral enterprise' as much as politics claims to be. Economic outcomes need to be framed in terms of right and wrong not just efficiency if only because these often align in surprising ways that are good for society and the economy.

My vision of Canada is that any Canadian child from a family of limited circumstance can expect to have a chance at lifetime of unlimited opportunities.

Free trade is a wonderful thing. Time and time again economists have proven that free trade creates enormous wealth for each country 'on the whole'. Historians have shown that free trade is usually associated with rising political, social and cultural liberty. The perennial problem is that free trade always creates tremendous disruption for thousands even millions of individuals often concentrated in one geography, and where the state is idle, not investing in best in class instruments of social justice, free trade can be a permanent ticket out of the middle class, down, not up.

Tax policy should be founded on the principle of generating steady tax revenues sufficient to maximise environmentally sustainable economic growth in order to fund fair government.

Public policy should be designed to decrease inequality before the law and increase equality of opportunity.

Capitalism is not the problem; the problem is what we do with capitalism.

Content is always more difficult to argue than conspiracy.

Let the state regulate and the market operate (most things).

Welfare strategies are best designed as a hand up, not as a hand out.

Political debate should not be fact free fighting.

Explanation lasts longer than eloquence.

Always favour empowerment over dependency.

The most enduring public figures are embraced for the causes they fought for and not the concept of themselves they hoped others would remember them by.

Find your voice and don't be the echo of somebody else.

It is possible to operate on two different levels: the practical, cautious and conservative; and the realm of ideas, open, free, and radical.