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1 month

G-7, G7+, G20

When the G-7 gatherings originated in the 1970s, they included only finance ministers who typically met with little notice or publicity. They were working meetings. But in the 1980s, they became public events with top government leaders present. As the Council of Foreign Relations has noted, it "The G-7 serves as a forum for highly industrialized democracies to coordinate economic, security, and energy policy."

1 month

Bangladesh Reaches Middle Income Status

Bangladesh has over 160 million people, which makes it the eighth most populous country in the world (just behind Pakistan and Nigeria, just ahead of Russia, Mexico, and Japan). I can't claim that I've been paying close attention to its economy, but I was nonetheless started to see that Bangladesh has shifted (in the World Bank's classification) from being a "low-income" to a "middle-income" country.

1 month

Blood Plasma: US Paid Donors Dominate Global Market

When market forces of supply and demand become involved with parts of the human body, the result can be a high degree of ambivalence. In the US, for example, a system has evolved where the health care system primarily relies on volunteers for blood, but on paying those who donate blood plasma. Not coincidentally the system of paid US now supplies nearly two-thirds of all the blood plasma available in the world.

1 month

Bitcoin and Illegal Activity

One of the main attractions of bitcoin is its anonymity, which is worth the most to those who are carrying out questionable or illegal transactions. But how much of bitcoin used is tied to illegal activity? Sean Foley, Jonathan R. Karlsen,  and Tālis J. Putniņš tackle this question in their January 2018 working paper, "Sex, drugs, and bitcoin: How much illegal activity is financed through cryptocurrencies?" available at the SSRN website.

1 month

What's the Value of a QALY?

QALY is an abbreviation for "quality-adjusted life-year." It refers to gains in health, which combine a time dimension and an adjustment for quality of life. Peter J. Neumann and Joshua T. Cohen offer a quick overview in "QALYs in 2018—Advantages and Concerns," a "Viewpoint" article written for the Journal of the American Medical Association (May 24, 2018). Thus, even if you strongly dislike the idea of a QALY, you might want to be aware that your doctors and health care administrators are paying attention to them.

1 month

Italy and the Repricing of European Government Debt

The yield spread between 10yr BTPs and Bunds widened 114bp in May. Populist and anti-EU politics were the catalyst for this repricing of risk. Spain, Portugal and Greece all saw yields increase as Bund yields declined. The ECB policy of OMT should help to avoid a repeat of 2011/2012.

2 months

The Rising Importance of Soft Skills

What skills are most important for an employee to succeed at Google? Back in 2013, the company undertook Project Oxygen to answer that question. Cathy N. Davidson described the result in the Washington Post last month ("The surprising thing Google learned about its employees — and what it means for today’s students," December 20, 2017). She writes: