Thursday, 1 October 2015

End September Links

# Arc of Prosperity asks Did universal bilingualism give Scots an advantage in the past? - I've had this idea ever since I read Billy Kay's The Mither Tongue. It should be possible to examine further (at least to look at correlations if not necessarily causation) by looking at regions of countries which have a lot of bilingualism (e.g. Catalan and Spanish in Catalonia) against regions of the same country which don't.

# The BBC reports on encouraging news from about the potential for a climate deal to include relatively undamaged countries accepting responsibility for those suffering a lot of damage. The article does quote Julie-Anne Richards from the campaign group, Climate Justice, saying that "the current situation being experienced with migrants in the Mediterranean was stiffening the resolve of poorer countries to make sure that an agreement on people displaced by climate change was part of any new deal. Right now if you are a low lying country you'd be looking at the Mediterranean and not having a lot of confidence that your future was guaranteed unless you could get something locked into the Paris agreement that acknowledged that vulnerable countries are going to face the worst impacts". This is an issue that those objecting to taking large numbers of Syrian refugees on the grounds that the solution should actually be to deal with ISIS, are not considering. The proximate cause of the Syria crisis was ISIS, but between 2007 and 2010, Syria had its worst drought in the instrumental record. The social upheaval that allowed ISIS to take control (while obviously helped by 2003 Iraq War) may be related to climate change, consistent with the theory of Yaneer Bar-Yam of the New England Complex Systems Institute who finds links between food prices and revolutions.

# Simon Wren-Lewis links to research showing that Voters respond to the the ‘reported’ rather than the ‘real’ economy with obvious implications to be drawn about the media in terms of their reporting of the 2015 General Election. (I can't help feeling that many of the same points could also be charged at the reporting of the 2014 Independence Referendum though too.) "Voters ... respond to how the economy ... is reported to be. ... the media really matters. ... The discussion of issues involving the economy ... among most of the ‘political class’ is often so removed from reality that it deserves the label myth. ... I do not believe I was exaggerating in suggesting that the ... myth was in good part responsible for the Conservatives winning the electionThe media is vital in allowing myths to be sustained or dispelled. That does not mean that the media itself creates myths out of thin air. These myths on the economy were created by the Conservative party and their supporters, and sustained by the media’s reliance on City economists. ... Myths ... do come from real concerns... But who can deny that much of the media ... have stoked that"

# Again on refugees & migration, some cool maps from BigThink and The Independent

Cereals, appropriability, and hierarchy discusses the neolithic roots of current cross-country differences in economic productivity. In contrast to Jared Diamond (geography determined where high farming productivity and the availability of food surpluses were), it is argued that it is not food surpluses, but rather the appropriability of crops that determines development through the incentives this creates for the emergence of complex social institutions: "increasing returns to scale in the provision of protection from theft, early farmers had to aggregate and to cooperate to defend their stored grains. Food storage and the demand for protection thus led to population agglomeration in villages and to the creation of a non-food producing elite that oversaw the provision of protection. Once a group became larger than a few dozen immediate kin, it is unlikely that those who sought protection services were as forthcoming in financing the security they desired. This public-good nature of protection was resolved by the ability of those in charge of protecting the stored food to appropriate the necessary means."

# This month's CityTalks podcast from the CentreForCities had a great contribution from FT Leader Writer Giles Wilkes on how power breeds success: "We're talking here about incentives ... What mobile businesses want ... is that they're dealing with the local leadership, that is really going to have their interests in mind ... [in the UK outside London, local leaders have little incentive to deal positively with business] and the trouble is that all of this is self-fulfilling: if you want to be, if you're a thrusting, active kind of bureaucrat or politician who wants to get ahead and improve things, you go to Westminster nowadays - that's where the power is, that's where the glory is"

# George Kerevan's article in the National also describes how London's dominance makes it impossible for other locations to get started (on the agglomeration process) in the context of the Green Investment Bank: "a Green Bank ... located in Edinburgh, which has a strong banking infrastructure and is located close to where many big renewables projects were likely to be built. ... Certainly the GIB has its formal HQ in Morrison Street in Edinburgh, next to the Conference Centre. But on enquiring you will discover that the GIB has only 50 of its current 113 staff based in the Scottish capital, handling administrative and backroom functions. The dealmakers are all based in… er, Millbank Tower in London. GIB’s chief executive is Shaun Kingsbury, ... He is based in London, lives in the Home Counties, and commutes to Scotland a couple of days a week. ... Kingsbury argues that putting together funding deals would require his people travelling to the City of London, so it makes sense to have them live there rather than commute from Edinburgh. It is an excuse I’ve heard all my life to justify London’s clammy grip on decision-making."

# Mark Carney generated headlines about the so-called "Carbon Bubble": Unless world leaders act, climate change could trigger financial crisis. This is a good opportunity for me to link again to my paper on the subject, which is currently Revise & Resubmit at The Economic Journal:  The Carbon Bubble: Climate Policy in a Fire-Sale Model of Deleveraging

1 comment:

  1. It's interesting you draw a connexion between my blog post and The Mither Tongue – I read it a couple of years ago, so it's quite possible I was influenced by it without realising it.

    And yes, I agree it's testable to some extent – it would be an interesting PhD for somebody to do. :-)