More in Global Economy


5 months

Taming the Demon of Work

As a meditation for Labor Day, I offer the story of the Benedictine monks of the Monastery of Christ in the Desert in northern New Mexico. They had a booming dot-com start-up in the late 1990s as digital scribes--and then they shut it down because it was interfering with their main purpose in life. Jonathan Malesic tells the story in "Taming the Demon: How Desert Monks Put Work in Its Place" (Commonweal, February 2, 2019). Malesic starts the story this way:

5 months

H.L. Mencken on Capitalism vs. Socialism

This characteristically pungent comment is from H.L. Mencken’s 1956 collection, Minority Report: H.L. Mencken's Notebooks (Johns Hopkins University Press edition, 1997, p. 264):

5 months

Thorstein Veblen: Economics is a Science of Complaisant Interpretations, Apologies, and Projected Remedies

I always enjoy reading Thorstein Veblen, partly because his writing strays back and forth across the line between "raising questions of real interest" to "just plain old dyspeptic and cantankerous." His 1918 essay "The Higher Learning In America: A Memorandum On the Conduct of Universities By Business Men" is full of comments from both categories, often closely overlapping. 

5 months

Robert Nozick: Utility Monsters and Experience Machines

One of the classic problems of economics involves how to make comparisons between the welfare of different people. As a common example, imagine taxing a high-income person and redistributing the money to a low-income person. In the utilitarian framework beloved of economists, a high-income person would receive less "utility" or happiness from that additional income than a low-income person would gain from receiving a transfer. Thus, it is argued, redistribution from high-income to low-income will increase the overall happiness or utility of society.

5 months

A Currency War Will Only Weaken Growth And Strengthen Gold

A few months ago many of us read about the conspiracy theory of “the nuclear option”, according to which China could generate a huge debt crisis in the United States and destroy the US economy if it sold its treasury holdings. I have already commented on it here.

5 months

Dorothy Sayers: On Susceptibility to Propaganda and Advertisement

Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957) is probably best-remembered as the author of the (fabulously good) Lord Peter Wimsey detective novels and stories. But she also received first-class honors modern languages and medieval literature from Oxford in 1915, before women were officially awarded degrees, and later in life also published books of poetry, theology, and a well-regarded translation of Dante's Divine Comedy. In 1948, she wrote an essay titled "The Lost Tools of Learning" (available various places on the web). A quick taste:

5 months

George Stigler: Market Failure Much Smaller than Political Failure

George Stigler once made the case for a market-based economy (in an entry about "Monopoly" in the Concise Encylopedia of Economics) just by arguing that it beats the alternatives.