Row: Links for 28th July 2019

  1. “Until the 1985 Plaza Accord no one outside a tight official circle knew when the seven finance ministers met or what they agreed upon. The summit was announced the day before and a communiqué was issued afterwards.”
    ..
    ..
    Today’s articles are about the G-7. Its history, its purpose, and its shortcomings. The excerpt above is from the Wikipedia article about the G-7’s formation. I learnt today that it was earlier called the Library Group.
    ..
    ..
  2. “They have similar names and similar functions. While the G7 mainly has to do with politics, the G20 is a broader group that focuses on the global economy. It’s also known as the “Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy” and represents 80% of global GDP.”
    ..
    ..
    Time Magazine explains the difference between the G-7 and the G-20. That last sentence is a useful way to understand the 80-20 rule, by the way.
    ..
    ..
  3. “In addition to its internal divisions, the G7 is no longer as influential as it once was, many analysts note. Some argue that without China and other emerging global powers, the group lacks relevance. In 2018, Jim O’Neill and Alessio Terzi of the European research institute Bruegel wrote that the G7, “in its current formulation, no longer has a reason to exist, and it should be replaced with a more representative group of countries.””
    ..
    ..
    CFR weighs in on the future of the G-7, and finds it to be pretty bleak. Worth reading for the charts alone.
    ..
    ..
  4. “Some enterprising chronicler of the leisure industry should surely write a full account of the importance of hotels in political history. After all, now that the president of the United States is a hotel tycoon, and is seemingly always keen to use politics and diplomacy to advance his hotel-building business plans, the interface between hotels and politics has rarely been more relevant.”
    ..
    ..
    Martin Kettle in the Guardian, in a snarky but informative piece about the roles that hotels have played in important historic events, including snippets about hotels in Biarritz.
    ..
    ..
  5. A list of other country groupings from Wikipedia. I cannot believe they didn’t think of a way to turn CAME into CAMEL.

ROW: Links for 10th July, 2019

  1. “The radio station, whose call letters are KHIL, has long been the daily soundtrack for this frontier town (population 3,500) that prides itself on its cowboy culture and quiet pace of life. But six decades after the founding of the station, the property is in foreclosure, with utility disconnect notices coming nearly every month.”
    ..
    ..
    Culture and Coase (an updated version) in rural America. For both of these reasons and more, worth your time.
    ..
    ..
  2. “When Amnesty International U.S.A. started looking for a new headquarters in New York City, the human rights group settled on office space in a modest skyscraper in Lower Manhattan known as Wall Street Plaza.But just as the organization was about to sign a lease last week, the building’s owner said that its new parent company, a giant shipping conglomerate owned by the Chinese government, decided to veto the offer. The company, Cosco Shipping, did not want the United States chapter of Amnesty International, which has produced scathing reports highlighting human rights abuses in China, as a tenant, according to the group.”
    ..
    ..
    Business, culture, nationalism, America and China.
    ..
    ..
  3. “When you’re doing everything wrong, the best way to fix the problem isn’t usually to go through the list of things you’re doing wrong and fix them one by one. It’s best to step back and ask why you’re so bad at everything, whether a systemic problem is causing you to make so many separate mistakes. And in the case of the MTA, the root cause of its capital-construction failures is usually diagnosed as unaccountability: Nobody knows who’s in charge, so nobody has to be terrified of taking the blame for obscene costs and endless delays.”
    ..
    ..
    Coordinating stuff is hard. The New York version of this story. Also, this is why Singapore deserves all the admiration it gets (and more)
    ..
    ..
  4. “During the French referendum on the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992, we observed that 60% of the voters with the lowest incomes, personal wealth or qualifications voted against, whereas the 40% of the electorate with higher incomes voted in favour; the gap was big enough for the yes vote to win with a small majority (51%). The same thing happened with the Constitutional Treaty in 2005, except that this time only the top 20% were in favour of the yes vote, whereas the lower 80% preferred to vote no, whence a clear victory for the latter (55%). Likewise for the referendum on Brexit in the UK in 2016: this time it was the top 30% who voted enthusiastically to remain in the EU. But, as the bottom 70% preferred to leave, the leave vote won with 52% of the votes.”
    ..
    ..
    An article which helps you think a little bit more about the European Union and what plagues it.
    ..
    ..
  5. “China’s overall external surplus is down. That’s not surprising—China’s general government deficit is somewhere between 4 percent of GDP and 12 percent of GDP, depending on what measure you use. The gap between China’s fiscal stance and that of Korea is even bigger than the gulf between Germany’s surplus and the deficit of France—and the gap between the euro area’s (tight) overall fiscal stance and the much looser stance of the United States.But the surplus of China’s neighbors, who have responded, in many cases, to the “rise” of China with policy stances designed to maintain weak currencies and protect their exports, has soared over the past ten years, and now is substantially larger than it was prior to the global crisis.”
    ..
    ..
    A useful article about Korea’s macroeconomic choices, and the reasoning behind them.