April 2006 Archives

Thank You for Smoking

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This month WHO will be celebrating the World No Tobacco Day, declaring;

“Tobacco addiction is a global epidemic that is increasingly ravaging countries and regions that can least afford its toll of disability, disease, lost productivity and death. The tobacco industry continues to put profits before life; its own expansion before the health of future generations; its own economic gain ahead of the sustainable development of struggling countries.

…The purpose of World No Tobacco Day 2006 is to encourage countries and governments to work towards strict regulation of tobacco products. We will do this by raising awareness about the existence of the wide variety of deadly tobacco products. Regulation should also help people get accurate information, remove the disguise and unveil the truth behind tobacco products – traditional, new, and future.”

My suggestion on how to celebrate the day; watch the movie, Thank You for Smoking (hat tip: Tom Palmer)

One reviewer comments;

“Although the movie doesn't stake out much new ground in the tobacco debate, Reitman delivers an explicit message of personal responsibility and individual choice that rarely comes from Hollywood and is almost never associated with smoking in polite company. Whereas the novel's version of Nick Naylor views personal responsibility as a convenient diversion from the unfortunate lethal side-effects of smoking, Reitman's Naylor comes to see that it's the other way around: The emotional nature of the health appeals obscures the importance of individuals taking responsibility for their own choices—and parents taking responsibility for teaching their kids to make informed decisions.”

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The Appeal of Bin Laden and Al-Qaida

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"The incompetence and authoritarianism of many Muslim and Middle Eastern governments fosters Islamist radicalism. These governments are overwhelmingly unelected, unaccountable, and corrupt; they provide no legitimate outlet for youth discontent. Unsurprisingly, these governments are widely despised by their young people. The old, largely nationalist, ideologies of these governments have failed to deliver either material goods or a sense of dignity either at home or abroad. The half-century failure of Arab states to resolve the Palestinian situation and the inability of Pakistan to ease the lot of Kashmiri Muslims have contributed to the evident corrosion of regimes’ legitimacy in the eyes of youth. Nationalism has not disappeared; it has been assimilated into the Islamists’ discourse. And, as George Orwell once said, “the nationalism of defeated peoples is necessarily revengeful and short-sighted”.

- Professor Alan Richards, “Explaining the Appeal of Islamic Radicals

Tom Palmer quotes Mancur Olson, referring to the ongoing saga in Egypt where two judges are under investigation for accusing the government of meddling in the last parliamentary elections;

Interestingly, the conditions that are needed to have the individual rights needed for maximum economic development are exactly the same conditions that are needed to have a lasting democracy. Obviously, a democracy is not viable if individuals, including the leading rivals of the administration in power, lack the rights to free speech and to security for their property and contracts or if the rule of law is not followed even when it calls for the current administration to leave office. Thus the same court system, independent judiciary, and respect for law and individual rights that are needed for a lasting democracy are also required for security of property and contract rights.”

The rule of law and an independent judiciary is a joke in a lot of these countries. Would democracy work in Middle East? I think it would remain a question unanswered for a long time to come.

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Fact Attack on Globalization

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Scientific American has overview article on ‘Does Globalization Help or Hurt the World's Poor’ by Pranab Bardhan. Some statistics from the article are summarized below.

- Between 1980 and 2000, trade in goods and services expanded from 23 to 46 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in China and from 19 to 30 percent in India.

- Between 1981 and 2001 the percentage of rural people living on less than $1 a day decreased from 79 to 27 percent in China, 63 to 42 percent in India, and 55 to 11 percent in Indonesia.

- Of the more than 400 million Chinese lifted above the international poverty line between 1981 and 2001, three fourths got there by 1987.

- Between 1981 and 2001 the fraction of Africans living below the international poverty line increased from 42 to 47 percent.

- A recent study by Gordon H. Hanson of the University of California, San Diego, which took into account only people born in a particular region (thus leaving out migrants), found that during the 1990s average incomes in the Mexican states most affected by globalization increased 10 percent more than those least affected.

- In 2001 Naila Kabeer of the University of Sussex in England and Simeen Mahmud of the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies did a survey of 1,322 women workers in Dhaka. They discovered that the average monthly income of workers in garment-export factories was 86 percent above that of other wage workers living in the same slum neighborhoods.

- In 1993, anticipating a U.S. ban on imports of products made using child labor, the garment industry in Bangladesh dismissed an estimated 50,000 children. Wages and conditions in garment factories are poor by world standards but better than those in alternative occupations such as domestic service or street prostitution.

- South Korea and the Philippines had similar per capita incomes in the early 1960s, but the Philippines languished in terms of political and economic institutions (especially because power and wealth were concentrated in a few hands), so it remains a developing country, while South Korea has joined the ranks of the developed.

- The international coffee market, for example, is dominated by four companies. In the early 1990s the coffee earnings of exporting countries were about $12 billion, and retail sales were $30 billion. By 2002 retail sales had more than doubled, yet coffee-producing countries received about half their earnings of a decade earlier.

- The Asian financial crisis of 1997 –following speculators' run on the Thai currency, the baht, the poverty rate in rural Thailand jumped 50 percent in just one year. In Indonesia, a mass withdrawal of short-term capital caused real wages in manufacturing to drop 44 percent.

- The annual loss to developing countries as a group from agricultural tariffs and subsidies in rich countries is estimated to be $45 billion; their annual loss from trade barriers on textile and clothing is estimated to be $24 billion. The toll exceeds rich countries' foreign aid to poor countries.

- Globalization does not explain the differing fates of Botswana and Angola, both diamond exporters, one democratic, the other ravaged by civil war.

A Growth Curve for the 21st century

WHO recently released new international Child Growth Standards for infants and young children which would provide evidence and guidance about how every child in the world should grow. For all these years WHO has been recommending the Child Growth Charts of US National Center for Health Statistics which now seems to have had some issues. The WHO Multicentre Growth Reference Study (MGRS) was undertaken between 1997 and 2003 and establish the breastfed infant as the normative model for growth and development. The video documentary on the study represents a good case study for statistics teachers (hat tip; UN Pulse).

For more on development milestones see this blog by a Maldivian pediatrician based in Australia.

Quote for Reflection

grandin.jpg“Aware adults with autism and their parents are often angry about autism. They may ask why nature or God created such horrible conditions as autism, manic depression, and schizophrenia. However, if the genes that caused these conditions were eliminated there might be a terrible price to pay. It is possible that persons with bits of these traits are more creative, or possibly even geniuses… If science eliminated these genes, maybe the whole world would be taken over by accountants.”

- Temple Grandin, quoted in ‘An Anthropologist on Mars’ p.292, by Oliver Sacks

Autism didn’t prevent Temple Grandin living a full life, completing a Ph.D in animal science and becoming an accomplished author and researcher. When actor Dustin Hoffman researched his role in the movie "Rain Man," he came to her for advice.

For Comment : I’m a great fan of Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory. It seems to me that a lot of autistic people are great visual thinkers.

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An Economist Who’s Not Only an Economist

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bagwati2.jpgThe latest Radio Economics interview is with Jagdish Bhagwati- world renowned trade economist. The discussion touches on topics like immigration, global warming, globalization and future leaders in the world economy. He’s critical of one of his students Jeffery Sachs (for advocating shock therapy in Russia and ignoring the Russian social setting), calls Stiglitz’s book, ‘Globalization and Discontents’, a ‘silly book’, refers to Kyoto Treaty as ‘the most idiotic treaty I’ve come across’. I liked his comments about global warming and immigration issues in the US. I can’t believe that Nicholas Stern, former Chief Economist at the World Bank has never heard of the Super Fund – and he’s been advising Tony Blair on global warming. His advice to budding economists- ‘if you want to have an impact on society- you better be a broad economist’.

Krugman credits Bhagwati’s willingness to see things differently which allowed him to come into prominence with new trade theory.

“It was during those early years that I formulated my summary of the reaction of a lot of people in Economics – presumably in any field but certainly in Economics – to any seriously new idea, which is, “It’s trivial, it’s wrong, and, furthermore, I said it in 1962.” At that point, Jagdish had created a marvelous institution, which was the Journal of International Economics, which could, very easily, in someone else’s hands, have been the bulwark against change, could have been a monument to the field’s orthodoxy at the time. Instead, it became the ground, the place, in which much of the new stuff was published – and with some difficulties. Twenty-six years later – you can still remember all those lousy referee reports and rejections on the first papers, and Jagdish plowed ahead and published it in the JIE, and – not just me, but other people – I remember Jim Brander, that there were some extremely negative reports from other people, but I went to bat for him, and Jagdish did….So I think that Jagdish deserves a lot of the credit for the now quite old, long in the tooth, new trade theory coming into prominence. He really made a tremendous difference – obviously to my life, but I think also to the field of International Economics.”

Bhagwati’s way with words and mastery of metaphors is well known;

IMF has a new working paper evaluating their initiative to urge countries to standardize macroeconomic data and enhance greater transparency.

“Since the IMF launched the data standards initiatives a decade ago, 145 of its 184 member countries have participated. This 80 percent participation rate reaffirms the importance countries place on data transparency in the globalized economy, which the initiatives promote. The wide participation can be attributed to the consultative process that has allowed for the development of a coherent program that takes account of countries’ capabilities, delineates clear responsibilities between the IMF and participating countries, and establishes effective monitoring procedures to ensure the credibility of the standards for policymakers, capital markets, and the general public. The approach has also provided checks and balances and fostered accountability. The initiatives may provide insights for the promotion of similar international standards

Adhering to the standards have had financial benefits as well.

“Empirical studies suggest that adhering to the SDDS or the GDDS, to varying extents, helps improve a country’s access to international capital markets. For instance, an STA econometric study on the borrowing costs of emerging market and developing countries over the past decade and a half found strong and consistent evidence of discounts for sovereign bond issuers participating in the GDDS, as well as for countries subscribing to the SDDS. The discounts amounted to about 8 percent for GDDS participants and 20 percent for SDDS subscribers, or the equivalent of about 20 and 50 basis points, respectively.”

Related Links:

Infrastructure has become Cool

Ken Rogoff has a new column up, advising policy makers to focus on infrastructure;

“But the risks are two-sided, and sound economic policy is just as much about capitalizing on good times as avoiding bad ones. Economic gurus at places like the World Bank have developed a ridiculously long list of steps that countries should take to raise their growth rates (the so-called “extended Washington Consensus”). Like maintaining good health, it is not enough to concentrate on a single component. But if there is one area where obvious opportunities exist, and where policy can really make a difference, it would have to be infrastructure investment…..

But there are ways to waste less. Transparency in procurement works wonders. So, too, does private sector involvement. The Nobel laureate economist William Vickrey argued tirelessly in favor of privately financed toll roads. Private oversight can often produce better and more efficient construction, and, in theory, toll roads help alleviate traffic congestion. (Ironically, Vickery died while sitting in a traffic jam.) Even China, which has added more than 50,000 kilometers of roads and dozens of airports over the past five years, makes use of private financing….”

As Rogoff is rumored to be a candidate to replace Anne Krueger, Deputy Managing Director at IMF, it is well worth listening to him.

Related Links:

- FuelGo and GasBuddy; and how high could the price of oil get?

- Gootodo is a Web-based todo list that can radically boost your productivity.

- FlySpy

- LibraryThing- Catalog your books online or keep a reading list

- The 20 Most Important Tools Ever

- Sarajevo Survival Map 92-96 is the ultimate visual document, a Topography of Life and Death. It is the only Map in the world that has made a visual reference to the tragedy of a besieged European city at the end of 20th century

- StateMaster; a unique statistical database which allows you to research and compare a multitude of different data on US states

- Random.org offers true random numbers to anyone on the internet

- Blue Ball Machine

- Castle Coalition; map plots instances of eminent domain abuse across the United States

- Map Gallery of Religion in the United States

- Worldmapper is a collection of world maps, where territories are re-sized on each map according to the subject of interest.

- Num Sum; Sharable Spread Sheets. See the World Cup 2006 spreadsheet

- Strategic Board is a Web 2.0 search engine that aggregates IT related RSS feeds, automatically monitor and identify new IT related blogs, currently
track 36,570 technology blogs with 1,421,066 technology related posts indexed

- ClearWriter

- Tyler Cowen's Ethnic Dining Guide

World Bank blogger Ignacio comments on a speech of Edward Prescott, 2004 Noble laureate in economics.

“…economic integration would be the main driver for growth and development.

For example, according to Prescott, the original European Community countries were able to catch-up with the US in the second half of the 20th century because they became a free trade club, as the US had done before. The reason why Latin America is not catching up would be that it has not adopted this US/EU type free trade club.

In his optimistic conclusion, Prescott forecasts that in the long term the whole world will catch up with rich countries, which will continue to double their living standards every generation. This forecast is conditional on all countries becoming economically integrated, and on all of them maintaining economic sovereignty. He sees the European Union expanding (including Turkey), and a functioning NAFTA, with India and China being big enough to constituting a trading club in themselves and the rest of Asia maybe becoming a trading club.”

Prescott has been talking of about wealth of nations for some time; see the paper Changes in the Wealth of Nations. In an interview, Prescott says;

“I think the question, "Why isn't the whole world rich?" is the most important question facing economists. I think we've learned that just accumulating more capital—that is more machines, factories, and roads—is not sufficient to become rich. Accumulating more human capital, as well, is not sufficient either. Both are important and essential but, given the economy wide productivity parameter, these factors of production will be accumulated. As I see it, what we need is a theory of this parameter, and I expect that the rules of the game a country sets up will account for the big difference in this number across countries.”

The Beauty Academy of Kabul and Other Stories

The latest show of “foreign exchange” is up. It includes amongst others commentary on The Beauty Academy of Kabul, and continuation of the interview with former President of Brazil, Cordosa. The previous show covered the US immigration policy, Turkish genocide in Armenia, AIDS in India and issues with Iran.

Black-White Test Score Gap

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Brad De Long’s reference to Roland G. Fryer and Steven D. Levitt's recent NBER paper, reminded me of the following article by both of them in Education Next;

“On average, black students typically score one standard deviation below white students on standardized tests—roughly the difference in performance between the average 4th grader and the average 8th grader. Historically, what has come to be known as the black-white test-score gap has emerged before children enter kindergarten and has tended to widen over time.

What are the causes of this persistent gap in achievement? In study after study, scholars have investigated the effects of differences among white and black students in their socioeconomic status, family structure, and neighborhood characteristics and in the quality of their schools. To be sure, socioeconomic status and the trappings of poverty are important factors in explaining racial differences in educational achievement. Yet a substantial gap remains even after these crucial influences are accounted for.
….
Conclusion

Compared with the results of previous studies, our findings provide reason for optimism. We find smaller achievement gaps, in both the raw and the adjusted scores, for children born in the early 1990s than others had found for earlier birth cohorts. It could well be that, as compared with earlier generations of students, the current cohort of blacks has made real gains relative to whites. Indeed, recent cohorts show smaller raw black-white gaps across multiple data sets—a truly promising sign.

Once students enter school, however, the gap between white and black children grows, even after controlling for observable influences. We speculate that blacks are losing ground relative to whites because they attend lower-quality schools that are less well maintained and managed as indicated by signs of social discord. Though we recognize that we have not provided definitive proof, this is the only hypothesis that receives any empirical support.”

Related Link;

- Acting White by Roland G. Fryer

Corruption quote of the day

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foi.jpg“I am completely mystified by just what your problem is....People who deal with the arms trade, even if they are sitting in a government office...day by day carry out transactions knowing that at some point bribery is involved. Obviously I and my colleagues in this office do not ourselves engage in it, but we believe that various people who are somewhere along the train of our transactions do. They do not tell us what they are doing and we do not inquire. We are interested in the end result.”

- the reply of a British army chief to a query from Britain’s ambassador in Venezuela as to whether the government was prepared to tolerate bribery in arms deals.

Such facts and more others ( British royal family received more than £1 million in farm subsidies from the European Union) are being revealed since introduction of Freedom of Information Acts around the world.


Related Links:

- Bibliography of Access to Information Resources

- Governance Organizations Directory

- Global Integrity

- The cost of the ERM Cirsis- UK Treasury

- Alasdair Roberts’s weblog

Slacker...

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Special thanks to Paul (and Ian) for taking charge of T&B while I slack off quite a bit. My life has focused around my career, which I cannot write about, and my son, who has a considerable speech delay. He has what the experts call "specific language impairment", meaning that with current tools and tests we cannot identify any physiological reason for his silence. He's not autistic, or even on the spectrum; he's not developmentally disabled, besides the usual difficulties one would expect of a 2.5 year old child unable to join together many words. He just doesn't talk much at all, though what he does say, he says rather clearly.

All of which is a long-winded way of pointing to my new blog dedicated to that childhood speech delay. For quite some time, I've been reading the academic literature on childhood speech delay; my brain's full of the stuff, and now's the time to change the balance of trade -- remaking the imported raw material into exports, as it were.

My particular concern is laying out how SLI cases are identified, and how they are treated. I'll also look at the costs and benefits of such "intervention". I don't know if I'll keep writing to the blog or not, but given that I've now linked to it, I'll be embarassed not to.

*** Please note that this research is on my own time, and paid for with my own dime; it is unaffiliated with my employer, for whom I have not done any other research on intervention. ***

Q&A on World Bank and Corruption

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Council of Foreign Relations has got an interesting briefing on the World Bank’s new strategy relating to corruption;

“In April Wolfowitz called corruption a chief threat to development in poor countries, saying it distorts markets, lowers investment, and "encourages people to apply their skills and energies in nonproductive ways." He has made anticorruption a major theme of his first year as president and vowed to set in motion a country-by-country process to attack the problem. The moves come at a time of increasing scrutiny of the bank's own role in corruption. A recent study by U.S. News & World Report quotes analysts as saying more than 20 percent of the funds disbursed by the bank each year may be wasted through corrupt practices. A Northwestern University professor, Jeffrey Winters, says his research found nearly 100 billion dollars of World Bank funds have been squandered by corruption over the years. The bank rejects these claims and says it is difficult to calculate how much of its funds have been distorted by corruption.

But experts say there is a clear correlation between corruption and stagnant growth on the world's poorest continent: Africa. The African Union has said corruption costs the continent $148 billion per year. The Heritage Foundation says two World Bank entities provided nearly $70 billion [in 1995 dollars] in development assistance to 48 countries in sub-Saharan Africa between 1980 and 2002. But at least twenty-three of those countries experienced negative growth in gross domestic product (GDP) in that period. Bruce Rich, an expert on multilateral banks for the organization Environmental Defense, says the World Bank's problems stem from a failure to ban corrupt contractors and companies from its programs and investigating fraud by government officials. "I think you have to start somewhere and the bank can start by ensuring that its own loans are clean, which it didn't do in the past.”

The most recent Global Monitoring Report promises to be part of this effort quantify the fight against corruption and improve governance in poor countries.

“Governance and corruption often are used synonymously. But they are quite different concepts—and conflating them can be very damaging. Public sector governance refers to the way the state acquires and exercises the authority to provide and manage public goods and services—including both public capacities and public accountabilities. Corruption is an outcome. It is a consequence of the failure of any of a number of accountability relationships that characterize a national governance system—from a failure of the citizen-politician relationship (which can lead to state capture) to a failure of bureaucratic and checks and balances institutions (which can lead to administrative corruption). Fighting corruption requires strengthening governance system across its core dimensions.”

A French journalist in the press conference on the Report asked the following question;
“You highlight how important it was to fight corruption and how important was good governance. I'm wondering why the World Bank gave this decision point to Congo while there was plenty of evidence that the country was stealing oil and steel monies through sham companies in the Bahamas and the British Virgin Islands.”

Stolper-Samuelson is Dead

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NBER has a major new book coming up of which Sebastian Mallaby says;

“A formidable team of economists directed by Berkeley's Ann Harrison is about to come out with a volume titled "Globalization and Poverty"; a central message is that free trade works best for countries with labor mobility. For example, India's dramatic trade liberalization in the 1990s produced equally dramatic strides against poverty. But because Indian workers move surprisingly little between industries and regions, people in sectors that contracted as a result of the lifting of tariffs were trapped. Liberals who seek to "soften" trade deals by writing mobility-restricting labor regulations into them need to rethink their strategy.”

The main findings of the book are summarized below;

- The first conclusion of this essay is that such a simple interpretation of general equilibrium trade models is likely to be misleading.

- Second, the evidence suggests that the poor are more likely to share in the gains from globalization when there are complementary policies in place. Such complementary policies include investments in human capital and infrastructure, as well as policies to promote credit and technical assistance to farmers, and policies to promote macroeconomic stability.

- Third, trade and foreign investment reforms have produced benefits for the poor in exporting sectors and sectors that receive foreign investment.

- Fourth, financial crises are very costly to the poor.

- Finally, the collected evidence suggests that globalization produces both winners and losers among the poor. The fact that some poor individuals are made worse off by trade or financial integration underscores the need for carefully targeted safety nets.

The Psychology of Terrorism

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British Muslim convert Abdul-Hakim Murad, narrates the following story of a leader of radical Islamic group in Egypt;

“I used to know, quite well, a leader of the radical 'Islamic' group, the Jama'at Islamiya, at the Egyptian university of Assiut. His name was Hamdi. He grew a luxuriant beard, was constantly scrubbing his teeth with his miswak, and spent his time preaching hatred of the Coptic Christians, a number of whom were actually attacked and beaten up as a result of his khutbas. He had hundreds of followers; in fact, Assiut today remains a citadel of hardline, Wahhabi-style activism.

The moral of the story is that some five years after this acquaintance, providence again brought me face to face with Shaikh Hamdi. This time, chancing to see him on a Cairo street, I almost failed to recognise him. The beard was gone. He was in trousers and a sweater. More astonishing still was that he was walking with a young Western girl who turned out to be an Australian, whom, as he sheepishly explained to me, he was intending to marry. I talked to him, and it became clear that he was no longer even a minimally observant Muslim, no longer prayed, and that his ambition in life was to leave Egypt, live in Australia, and make money. What was extraordinary was that his experiences in Islamic activism had made no impression on him - he was once again the same distracted, ordinary Egyptian youth he had been before his conversion to 'radical Islam'.

This phenomenon, which we might label 'salafi burnout', is a recognised feature of many modern Muslim cultures. An initial enthusiasm, gained usually in one's early twenties, loses steam some seven to ten years later. Prison and torture - the frequent lot of the Islamic radical - may serve to prolong commitment, but ultimately, a majority of these neo-Muslims relapse, seemingly no better or worse for their experience in the cult-like universe of the salafi mindset.”

What’s best way to deal with this ‘salafi burnout’. Psychologist Jerrold Post explains;

“You don't have terrorism where you have a prosperous society where a bright, educated kid can succeed. And we have for the terrorists all too often a feeling of shame and humiliation, which the act of terrorism gives them a sense of power. Power as opposed to powerlessness, pride as opposed to shame. So it is necessary to create pathways where within society they can succeed rather than being blocked, as is currently the case. And this argues for much more funding to help these societies open up, to reform educational systems. Also the role of parents is critical here. In many Muslim societies the parents are supposed to be proud of 'my son the martyr', so to speak. Yet no one wants to lose a child. Nasra Hassan, a Pakistani Muslim woman who works for the UN, has interviewed what she called 250 human bombs and their families. And one of the mothers who lost her first son to a martyrdom operation and her second son was on the way said, 'If I could, I would take this scalpel, cut open my heart and sew my son inside to protect him'. How can we mobilise families to not encourage or to inhibit their children from moving in this pathway?

The main thing I would like to leave with your audience is that when hatred has been bred in the bone, I have a picture of a three-year-old girl holding a hand grenade, of an eleven-month-old infant with a toy suicide bomb belt, when you're starting at this age, it's very hard to do this. Everything we know about culture change and attitude change says it takes a long time. So I don't see any quick solutions here.”

The road ahead is not an easy one.

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Is English Legal System Better?

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British economist John Kay thinks that when it comes to legal system English law wins;

"English law is very widely used in financial services, even for transactions that have no other connection with England. English law gives much more freedom to write whatever contract the parties want than the civil law systems of many other countries. English judges, politically neutered, have been formalistic in enforcing the strict terms of contract, while courts in America pay more attention to the context of the transaction – the intentions of the parties and the reasonableness of the contract terms.

This English combination of flexibility before the event and rigidity after it is attractive to many. English courts have also acquired a reputation for giving foreigners a fair crack of the whip. These competitive attractions of the English legal system have made City of London law firms large exporters of legal services."

But England does not appear to be a good place for rich people with troubled marriages.

Related Links:

History of Immunisation

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In 1717, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, the wife of the British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, wrote a letter to her friend describing how she had witnessed the practice of smallpox inoculation in Constantinople. This involved the transfer of material from a smallpox postule into multiple cuts made in a vein. Lady Montagu had lost her brother to smallpox and was amazed that the Middle Eastern practice of inoculation rendered the fatal disease harmless. In Britain, the practice was unknown.

Inoculation was an early attempt at creating immunity to disease, but was later dismissed when Edward Jenner pioneered immunisation through vaccination in 1796. Vaccination was hailed a huge success. Napoleon described it as the greatest gift to mankind, but it met unexpected opposition after it was made compulsory in Britain in 1853.

How did a Gloucestershire country surgeon become known as the father of vaccination? Why did the British government introduce compulsory smallpox vaccination in 1853? What were the consequences of those who opposed it? And how was the disease finally eradicated?

Listen to latest podcast of the BBC’s In Our Time program to get the answers.

Related Links:

World Bank and Dictators

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Ex-World Banker Dennis de Tray offers some advice for EU in its dealings with Turkmanistan’s dictator;

“I was until recently World Bank director for the five Central Asia “stans” (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan). The World Bank had no program in Turkmenistan because we could find no way to do anything remotely positive for its people. Natural gas is important to Europe. But it is the money Mr. Niyazov receives from natural gas sales that keeps him in power. While I am a strong advocate of engagement, in this case the European Parliament should reject Turkmenistan’s “most favored nation” status. If it does not, the EU must accept responsibility for supporting the ongoing destruction of a country and a people.

Turkmenistan, a country of 5m people in Central Asia, …

“used to be a Soviet vassal state, ruled by a Moscow stooge called Saparmurat Niyazov. When the Soviet Union collapsed, Mr Niyazov deftly reinvented himself as a Turkmen patriot, the “Turkmenbashi” or father of all Turkmen. He banned all opposition, declared himself president-for-life and erected golden statues of himself everywhere, including one in Ashgabat, the capital, which revolves with the sun.

A collection of his thoughts on philosophy, ethics and Turkmen culture, the “Rukhnama” (“Book of the Soul”), forms the basis of the school curriculum. Even to pass a driving test, his subjects must show their knowledge of this “sacred” text. The children who have passed through the country's schools most recently are now nearly as brainwashed as North Koreans.”

On the state of education in the country;

“Basic education has been reduced to nine years, and university from four years to two. From September to November, students are usually sent to cotton fields for the harvest. The number of students in higher education has dropped from 40,000 at independence to 7,000 or so today. Those who can afford it go to study in Moscow or other former communist capitals, perpetuating a tradition from Soviet times. Over 12,000 teachers were fired a few years ago, and those who have kept their jobs are paid badly, if at all. Classes are overcrowded, and grades as well as admission are often for sale.

The curriculum has been increasingly geared towards vocational skills—subjects deemed useless such as physical education and arts were eliminated—and political indoctrination. A substantial part of school time is now dedicated to learning passages from the “Rukhnama” (Book of the Soul), in which President Saparmurat Niyazov rambles on about practically everything, from proper social behaviour and morals to the motherland and its glorious leader. The book and its author have acquired quasi-religious status….As a result, the education level has collapsed. With over 45% of the population under 19 years old, general knowledge and critical thinking—let alone vaguely accurate views of the outside world—are vanishing rapidly.”

The situation appears to be grim in the country, as one human rights campaigner from the country comments;

Free Reads and Book Forums

A couple of links to free reads.

- The Wealth of Networks (via Lawrence Lessig)

- Beyond the European Social Model; a related podcast on the book

- Discretionary Time: A New Measure of Freedom

- Open Macro in Developing Countries

- Graph Theory

- The latest Cato Journal- (including articles Does Foreign Aid Help, Corruption and Human Development and book reviews of Undercover Economist and The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth)


Webcasts

- World Economic Outlook

- Is Globalization Here to Stay

- The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century

- Capitalism Achilles heel

- History Matters: Development for the 21st Century

- The World's Banker: A Story of Failed States, Financial Crises, and the Wealth and Poverty of Nations

- Book TV’s In Depth

- Oil: Anatomy Of An Industry (a podcast from Radio National’s Book Show)

- Accidental President of Brazil

- Book Forums from University Channel

Across the econ blogosphere two people have been busy providing us links to some of these free reads; New Economist and Ben Muse. Thank you very much for both of them.

On, Off, Nothing in Between

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Scotland doesn't like flying standby. At least, when it comes to their electronics.

STANDBY buttons on electrical appliances such as televisions should be disabled or removed to help the environment, Scotland's biggest energy supplier said last night.

ScottishPower has called for urgent action to tackle the current wasteful situation which sees gadgets on standby, or charging up, running up a bill of £62 million and producing 360,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide in Scotland every year.

The argument, it appears, is that the small amounts of juice your electronics need to remain in standby mode are, in the aggregate, a significant portion of overall energy use. Curbing that would, by this reasoning, create a huge power savings.

The article cites one dissenter who argues that special models for the UK market would drive up the cost to companies. Good point, but my initial thought was that people would simply choose to leave their products in the on mode more than they do now. The value of nearly-instant-on is enough, I would think, that people would simply choose always-on and consider the costs of running the equipment at a slightly higher rate for more time.

I'm also not a fan of the attempts to "count the costs" at the end of the article. The paper makes claims like "VCRs: Waste £16m of energy; produce 86,200 tonnes of carbon dioxide," and "DVDs: Use £1.7m of energy; produce 9,200 tonnes of carbon dioxide". Though no mention is made of how much fuel usage has been offset by people going to fewer movies during the week, less travel for entertainment, etc.

The other thing I wonder, though I haven't the technical savvy or industry expertise that others have to seriously review the issue, is what this would do to the energy grid. Electronics moving from standby to full power don't, I think, pull as much juice from the system as electronics moving from completely off to on. Might the wholesale elimination of "standby mode" increase spikiness in demand across the grid? And if so, what are the costs of increasing that kind of strain?

Where do Norms come from?

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baboons.jpgHere’s an interesting webcast of a speech of George Akerlof;

"Akerlof spoke on how inclusion of certain norms changes our view of macroeconomics, by negating the concept that decision makers are utility maximizers. He put forth a view of motivation that involves individual dignity and behavioral expectations, the use of which broadens the application of the utility function for each individual. The implication of these motivations is that it is not only outcomes that lead to certain behavior, but also expectations about what should occur. These missing motivations give us a better understanding of why people make economic decisions, and may recommend a more naturalistic and observational approach for understanding decision-making processes. "

As Akerlof says;

“This lecture has shown that the early Keynesians got a great deal of the working of the economic system right in ways that are denied by the five neutralities. As quoted from Keynes earlier, they based their models on “our knowledge of human nature and from the detailed facts of experience.” They used their intuitions regarding the norms of how consumers, investors, and wage and price setters thought they should behave. There is a systematic reason why such knowledge and experience is likely to be accurate: by their nature norms are generated and known by a whole community. They are known to those who abide by them, and those who observe them as well.

We have shown ways in which macroeconomic variables will be affected by norms. The five neutralities, which deny a role for norms systematically suggest that the Keynesians got it wrong. Consumption should have no special dependence on current income; investment should be independent of current cash flow; wages and prices should not depend on nominal considerations. But the Keynesians. initial intuitions got it right because they included norms whose implications are widely understood. This understanding yielded insights into behavior that must be absent from the five neutralities, whose very construction denies the possibility that people’s decisions might be influenced by their views regarding how they, and others, should behave. In this broader view it is then no theoretical surprise that in consumption, investment, and wage and price determination, macroeconomists have found excess sensitivity to variables that the five neutralities say should play no role at all.

It is time to restore the missing motivation to macroeconomics.”

Related Links:

- A non-human example of the cultural transmission of social norms

- Norms in Law and Economics

- An earlier post related to norms in society

Aid Olympics

Corruption Quote of the Day

“the proceeds of corrupt practices in Africa…are often laundered and made respectable by some of the most well-known banks in the City of London…It is estimated that a third of the money stolen by the Nigerian military dictator Sani Abacha, and found by the Swiss authorities in Swiss banks, had been deposited first in the British banking system until it was clean enough to bank in Switzerland…”

Mohamed Ibrahim, founder of Celtel International , referring to Royal African Society Report on Corruption (via Pablo at PSD blog)

The General Abacha is estimated to have stolen $3 billion to $5 billion from the state coffers.

Fighting Poverty with the Espresso Book Machine

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The World Bank has started the first Print On Demand (POD) device - the Espresso Book Machine (EBM);

"The new low cost and fully automatic book machine, developed by On Demand Books LLC (ODB) with initial funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, will revolutionize book sales by printing and binding a single copy of a book at the point of demand. EBM can produce 15 - 20 library quality paperback books per hour, in any language, in quantities of one, without any human intervention. On a global scale, this would eliminate the costs of shipping and warehousing, returning and pulping unsold books, while allowing simultaneous global availability of new books. Print jobs can be initiated from the machine itself or from any locally connected computer using nothing more than a web browser.

Young ambassadors from DC high schools and universities will be present to officially print the first book by a retail customer at the World Bank InfoShop, the first site to offer this service. Buying a book will eventually be like getting cash from an ATM. You choose a title, insert a credit card to pay for the book and walk away with the finished book a few minutes later."

Is this a good way to fight poverty? I don’t know. If you were to ask Easterly he would have plenty of things to say. My challenge is for development institutions to be able to provide every student in the developing world the material he/she needs to develop their minds to the fullest like the following student from Mozambique.

Hi! my name is Guido Da Silva, and I am a student of economic course at Eduardo Mondlane University - Mozambique.
would you send me a book of Microeconomic, I need it very much.
My post address is
Guido Da Silva
Av. Josina Machel,200
3º Andar Flat 10
Maputo
Mozambique

(I found it in the comments section of a post at New Economist blog)

Related Link:

- Google’s Plan to Digitise the World’s Libraries and its implications.

An Overdose of Happiness

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“That’s one reason why I think that public policy, and even how we spend our time, should be more devoted to trying to help people who are very unhappy. There’s another reason there actually, which is in the research and has not been pointed out very much. We know a lot more about what makes the difference, what causes the difference between the misery and average happiness. Knowing what causes the difference between average happiness and great happiness, we have it more in our power (as well as it being a duty) to do more about the least happy.”

….Unfortunately this is not the way the government has been thinking up till now. Psychiatry and psychology have been Cinderella sections of the NHS. If you have blood pressure (I have) or a skin problem, or asthma, or diabetes, or whatever, you will almost automatically, at some point, see a specialist. But not if you have a crippling depression which is stopping you from working for a year; you’re extremely unlikely to see a specialist. Not more than 10% of people in that condition will see a specialist, and this reflects I think our obsession at the moment with ‘objective indicators’ rather than the feelings of people, which are what I believe matter most of all. So it’s encouraging that by pointing out some of these facts, there is now a move going on in the government to provide more psychological therapy, which is of course what these patients want, they just don’t want to be put on a few pills by the GP and sent off home."

- Richard Layard, Economist

“Now the intellectuals, who are more happiness pessimists, come up with a different argument. They say maybe why you’re detecting all this happiness out there, is because when you ask people how happy they are, when they respond, they’re not really thinking very clearly or sensibly about their answer. They’re not giving you really a very profound answer, and there’s a clue that that might be right from another interesting study done recently by a psychologist. They engineer a situation where people have to go and make some photocopies from a photocopying machine. Unbeknownst to these people, they don’t know the experimenter has engineered it, but they will discover a 10-cent dime on the photocopying machine, an ‘unexpected’ discovery. So one group find the 10-cent dime, the other group who are photocopying don’t find anything. Then they’re interviewed shortly afterwards about how happy they are. But the happiness question doesn’t ask them how happy you are right now, it asks them ‘Tell us how you evaluate how happy your whole life has been.’ In other words, they ask people to evaluate happiness over their whole lifetime.

The amazing result is the discovery of a 10-cent dime piece on a photocopying machine statistically significantly raises your assessment of how happy your whole life has been. The implications are dramatic for government policy. It suggests the cheapest and most effect public policy measures imaginable.

-Raj Persaud, Psychiatrist


I’m a little bit confused here; the psychiatrist seems to be making more sense than the economist. Another little bit from Raj’s talk;

“Harold McMillan, a former British prime minister from several decades ago, was visiting France on a state visit, and happened to find himself with a few private moments with the wife of President Charles de Gaulle, Madame de Gaulle. He asked her what she was most looking forward to on the retirement, the imminent retirement of President Charles de Gaulle.

He was somewhat startled and shocked at her reply. When asked what she was most looking forward to on President de Gaulle’s retirement, she said, ‘A penis.’..”

For what actually happened see the rest of the talk.

Related Links;

Disclosure Helps Reduce Pollution

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Key Findings from a World Bank collaborated research on an approach to fighting pollution through empowering communities to exert pressure on polluters by giving the general public access to emissions information.

-In developing countries where pollution information has been scarce, disclosure can make a firm’s emissions more costly because it increases penalties from regulators, local communities, consumer organizations and market agents.

-Significant factors influence the ‘pricing’ of pollution by local communities. These include income, education, level of civic activity, legal or political recourse, media coverage, NGO presence, efficiency of existing formal regulation, local employment alternatives, and the total pollution load faced by a community in relation to its environmental capacity to absorb pollution.

-Disclosure promotes useful learning across firms. A good rating for one firm among many competitors establishes the feasibility of cleaner production and encourages other firms to invest more in reducing their harmful impact on the environment.

-Disclosure promotes managers’ awareness of their own firms’ pollution. A survey of Indonesian firms that have participated in PROPER suggests an important impact for information to plant managers and owners about their own plants’ emissions and abatement opportunities.

Related Links:

Clinton's Speech on Disaster Reduction

"Indeed, I often think about one of the nations that I have worked hard to help in the tsunami, the Maldives, a small country with only 130,000 people for which I have developed a great affection. My successor in interest at some future point will not have to worry about them anymore; we will just take a bunch of boats and take them away as their little nation vanishes under the water.

...if you want a disaster prevention system that works, we have to address this. We have to do more to address the underlying causes of vulnerability."

- President Bill Clinton

Does the Sex of the Doctor Matter?

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“A recent study in Brazil found that women spent longer in consultation with each child under five years of age (an additional minute, on average) than their male counterparts, even adjusting for other determinants of time inputs such as patient loads. The difference was more pronounced for providers trained in the Integrated Management of Childhood Illness protocols, suggesting that the influence of training might also differ according to the sex of the practitioner.

In the United States, women were more likely to undergo screening with Pap smears and mammograms if they were seen by female physicians, and this was more evident with internists and family doctors than with specialist obstetricians and gynaecologists. Female patients, especially those seeking gynaecological and obstetric advice, reported greater satisfaction with female than male physicians.

Taken together, these findings suggest that certain aspects of the care rendered by women health workers can, in specific circumstances, be more responsive to the needs of patients than the care provided by male physicians. These differences could be important for the development of the health workforce, but need to be better understood.”

-page 71, The World Health Report 2006 - working together for health

So next time you visit the doctor, remember that.

The Real Problem with the French

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“A GlobeScan poll of 20 countries around the world conducted between June and August 2005 showed that the French public is unusually skeptical about the free enterprise economic system. A majority or plurality of all of the other 19 countries polled agreed with the statement “The free enterprise system and free market economy is the best system on which to base the future of the world.” France alone had a minority, 36 percent, agreeing with the statement, while 50 percent disagreed.

Ironically China had the largest majority, with 74 percent agreeing. Turkey (47%), Russia (43%) and Argentina (42%) each had just a plurality agreeing.

The same poll found that the French are unusually high in their mistrust of large companies. Fifty-five percent said they did not trust large French companies to operate in the best interest of society (compared to an average of 47 percent among the 20 countries polled), and 61 percent said they did not trust global companies operating in their country (compares to a global average of 52 percent). Eighty-six percent also said that large companies have too much influence over their national government (compared to 73 percent globally).

Perhaps most significant, an overwhelming 79 percent favored more government regulation of large companies to protect the rights of workers. The global average was 74 percent.”

Links:

- The Survey

- World Bank Receives Good Marks in World Poll

IMF Improves Disclosure Policy

The IMF is taking steps to reduce the number of deletions made in the publicly disclosed versions of its key reports about member countries;

About one-quarter of published reports contain substantive corrections going beyond what is permitted under existing guidelines. In most cases, these changes related not only to the presentation of the authorities’ views, but also to the staff’s analysis and views. This procedure was also used, not infrequently, to add or delete information. In about 25 percent of published reports, corrections were made after the Board discussion of the report.

The transparency policy appears to have had subtle, but noteworthy effects on candor. About 9 percent of reports are published with deletions that entail some diminution of candor and 16 percent of reports with corrections that blur or tone down staff’s analyses and assessments. Only in five percent of cases was a key message significantly altered. However, the survey of mission chiefs suggests that concerns remain about potential losses of candor, regarding both the policy dialogue and staff’s reporting to the Executive Board.”

The report also tries to ‘name and shame’ (you have to read between the lines) those countries that don’t publish the Article IV reports. The members not publishing any Article IV or UFR reports in the period from July 1, 2003, to Feb. 28, 2005, were: Bahrain, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Cote d'Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Fiji, Guyana, Honduras, Lebanon, Malaysia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Myanmar, Oman, Panama, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Vincent and The Grenadines, Swaziland, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Togo, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Yemen.

Not surprisingly Middle East is the worst performer in terms of share of reports published (47 %, see Table 2).

The IMF review also includes a literature review of pros and cons of transparency.

Interesting Related Link:

- The Art of Information Access Project -it’s anthropologist’s version of the
practices involved in gaining access to government-held documents through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in the United States

Fareed Zakaria on the Immigration Debate

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“Americans are debating the issue of illegal immigration these days. It’s a real problem, but many are veering towards solutions that remind me more of Europe than America. We’re talking about guest-worker programs, deportation, and harsh penalties against immigrants.

Now that’s how many European countries handle their need for extra workers. They keep these people at arm’s length, never hold out the prospect of citizenship, exclude them from community life, and signal in all kinds of ways that these people are not welcome. The result--Europe has large groups of sullen, disaffected, alienated foreign workers who don’t assimilate, feel no attachment or loyalty to their host country, and are ripe for radicalism--even terrorism. You can see the problem on the streets of French cities these days as angry minority youth burn cars and destroy property. Do we really want America to become more like France?

- Fareed Zakaria, in the latest show of ‘Foreign Exchange

My fear is that are we entering a phase of decline that Benjamin Friedman talked about in his book, 'Moral Consequences of Growth'

Related Links:

- Martin Wolf on Unskilled Immigration

- A Summary of the Debate As Seen by NYT.

- Russel Roberts comments NYT piece

- Don Boudreaux asks the question “Are 'Illegal' Immigrants Illegal?”

- Greg Mankiw on Immigration

- Paul Krugman on Immigration and Bryan Caplan critiques Krugman

- Andrew Samwick’s view on Immigration

- Gary Becker on Illegal Immigration

- Kevin Hasset’s comments on Immigration

- Chris Coyne and Pete Boettke deals with issues raised by Huntington.

- Arnold Kling also raises the broader issues related to immigration

- How does US fertility rate relate to the topic

Endangered Wonders of the World

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Maldives is listed as one of the 7 most endangered natural wonders in the world by the lastest edition of the Newsweek;

"It might not seem possible for an entire country to sink, but that is exactly what is happening to the Maldives, a nation of 12,000 islands that contain some of the richest marine life in the world. With more than 80 percent of its land less than a meter above sea level, the Maldives are particularly at risk from the rising sea levels caused by global warming. The 2004 tsunami, which devastated the country’s infrastructure, has already erased some tiny atolls and the country’s maps have been redrawn. Conservationists hope to prevent further erosion by regrowing damaged coral reefs."

Related Links:

- Ocean Jewels, NASA

- Tsunami Added Height to Atolls

Mr. Githongo goes to Washington

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We should thank Kenya for at least two things with regard to the world wide fight against corruption; for the very courageous Mr. John Githongo, former anti-corruption chief of Kenya and the its links with the formation of Transparency International. According to Sebastian Malleaby, “Peter Eigen, the World Bank’s former representative in Kenya, grew so frustrated with the Bank’s refusal to confront corruption that he left to set up Transparency International, a corruption watchdog, in 1993. Several of his former colleagues wanted the Bank to back his experiment with a donation, but this was opposed as a violation of the Bank’s apolitical charter by the chief counsel.” (p. 417-18, The World’s Banker).

Githongo in a recent event at Cato explained in more detail the ongoing corruption sagas that are continuing in Kenya and offered his insights in the fight against corruption. A couple of points he made are well worth highlighting; that security related procurement has become the last refuge of the corrupt and retribution not prosecution should be the focus. The corrupt politicians are more than happy to go to court and more often they have better paid lawyers.

Professor George Ayittey was actually the more accomplished speaker at the event; he pointed it out that in a lot of countries the governments are in effect vampire states ruled by bandits and thugs. As he says, “We remove one rat from office only for the next cockroach to do the very same things!

A Carnival of Podcasts for the Weekend

The Beautiful Mind…some recent fascinating insights into the causes and risk factors for schizophrenia. And young woman tells of her lonely battle to tame her fragmented mind.

Seafood and the Mind…some remarkable findings from a British study looking at the effect of giving fish oil supplements to children with ADHD and learning difficulties. And the figures showing significantly lower depression rates in countries which eat lots of seafood may give you an idea for tonight’s dinner!

A Mother's Nightmare…A baby is dead. A mother is in jail. She maintains her innocence. A seven-year-old may be to blame.

God: An Itinerary

House Design and Violence … Architect Claire Bennett says the way we design our modern houses is encouraging violent behaviour.

How design drives capitalism…Professor Robert Reich in his book The Future of Success outlines how our unfulfilled desires drive capitalism.

Microsoft and the Australian tribe… Anne Kirah is an anthropologist, her skill honed by fieldwork in immigration centres. Now she works for Microsoft as chief anthropologist.

The changing role of government… Shadow Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner of Australia

China: innovation and productivity

Literary animals- ending the debate of nature versus nurture

Trust and charities… Don D'Cruz has been casting a critical eye on the aid industry for some years, at first when he worked with the Institute of Public Affairs, and now as an independent commentator.


Governing by Network … Back in the 1980s there was a wave of changes to governments – increasing privatisation and outsourcing, a new recognition that governments didn't actually have to deliver all the services for which they accepted responsibility. Bill Egger's book Governing by Network seeks to take this process much further and has gradually been gathering a reputation as something of a signpost to the future

The art of demotivation …Recent data says that people are increasingly unhappy with their jobs. The root of the problem says Dr EL Kirsten is the 'noble employee myth', the idea that if people are unhappy at work, there must be some problem with the organisation. But could it be that we all just expect too much from our work and the organisations we work with.

Private education in developing countries

Genetics of nicotine dependence

Don’t worry if you’re obsese …Research from the US suggests that the risk factors from being overweight or obese may not be as big as has been suggested


Tim Flannery, whose book The Weather Makers, has made a considerable impact around the world, explains why he is not put off by those who are unconvinced by warnings about climate change.

David Ellyard has produced a book Who Discovered What When, about the superstars of science from the past 500 years. The list is both reassuring and surprising. Who is missing? Who snuck in? Where are the Australians?

Big Ideas Are Better…The opening night debate from the 2006 Ideas Festival in Brisbane. In front of a crowd of 1600 people, six guest speakers debate the assertion that big ideas are better (than small ones).

Climate change…Meet the law professor who's off to the North Pole to focus atttention on global warming.

Criminals and privacy… Last week, in New Zealand, a convicted paedophile was awarded $20,000 for 'breach of privacy' after police distributed a leaflet bearing his photo, his address and his criminal record. Legitimate community policing or vigilantism?

Date rape…Similar fact evidence: six girls make sexual assault allegations against one boy – so should there be one trial, or six different trials? If a jury hears six different stories is that prejudicial to the accused, or is it legitimate, probative evidence?

The Life and Grimes of Rudolf Diesel- the creator of diesel engine

Fruits of War…war what’s it good for


Triangulation…Most of us know about the square on the hypotenuse, but Pythagoras’s theorem is not simply a way of computing hypotenuses. It is an emblem of the very process of proof itself.


Knowing what you didn’t know you knew … How can we acquire knowledge about anything? If you’ve already got it, you don’t need it and, if you haven’t got it, you don’t know you need it. This is one of the questions that Plato asked in his dialogue Meno …

Does science tell the truth?

Niall Ferguson on Islam and demographics

Latest Science Show from Radio National … disappearing tea spoons/ fish oil and brain development

Sceptical and Spooked … Inveterate sceptic, Will Storr, takes on poltergeists and Electronic Voice Phenomena to test his philosophical atheism.


The Nazi Hunters … Prosecuting fugitive Nazis has not been easy, says Ephraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, but the pursuit of justice is paramount, even when it’s too little too late

Globalisation Institute podcast interview with with Dan Ikenson, a Trade Policy Analyst at the Cato Institute in Washington DC. ..discusses the rising anti-Chinese feeling in the US Senate, the proposed 27.5% tariff on Chinese goods, and the issue of whether Americans should be worried about the rising US trade deficit – and whether this is sustainable.


A brand new series of podcasts from the World Bank; Urban Development and Globalization , Trade and International Development, Energy, Malnutrition and Hunger, The Rise and Fall of Nations, Business Unusual

An ex-World Banker – Bill Easterly critiques the development community and urges for independent evaluation of aid. Great speech delivered with a remarkable sense of humour and irony. (webcast)

Markets, Networks and Governments : Issues in the Debate on Global Governance
Kemal Dervis, Administrator at the UN Development Program and former Finance Minister of Turkey

Latest Bloomberg podcasts; interview with Tim O'Neill, principal at O'Neill Strategic Economics and Joseph LaVorgna , chief U.S. fixed-income economist at Deutsche Bank Securities about U.S. economic growth, global trade, China's currency and trade policies, bond yields and Federal Reserve monetary policy.

Ben Franklin: Conservative, Libertarian, or Radical Democrat ….Featuring the author, Mark Skousen, compiler and editor of The Compleated Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.

Electing to Fight: Why Emerging Democracies Go to War

Corruption in Kenya- A Whistleblower’s Account

The Carolinian Renaissance … In 800 AD on Christmas Day in Rome, Pope Leo III proclaimed Charlemagne Emperor. According to the Frankish historian Einhard, Charlemagne would never have set foot in St Peter's that day if he had known that the Pope intended to crown him. But Charlemagne accepted his coronation with magnanimity. Regarded as the first of the Holy Roman Emperors, Charlemagne became a touchstone for legitimacy until the institution was brought to an end by Napoleon in 1806…How did Charlemagne become the most powerful man in Western Europe and how did he finance his conquest? Why was he able to draw Europe's most impressive scholars to his court? How successful was he in his quest to reform his church and educate the clergy? And can the Carolingian period really be called a Renaissance?

The Today Lecture from BBC – featuring a new series of lectures organized with the Chatham House. The inaugural lecture is by Jack Straw and Condoleezza Rice..the usual stuff defending the war with Iraq but Rice wears a little bit of her academic hat as well and sometimes very moving. Highly recommended.

The lastest program from Foreign Exchange TV – a flage ship program hosted by Fareed Zakaria. The focus is on role of NGOs, global equity markets and higher education. How have Australia managed to capture 10 percent of the world market for students seeking an English-language education? Features discussion by the likes of Sebastian Malleaby and Ruchir Sharma at Morgan Stanley.

-Please note that a lot of above podcasts are time sensitive and won't be available if you don't download now.


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