Price Wars

una sorpresa un bellissimo libro che vi invito a leggere ed eccovi una recensione di Price Wars di Rupert Russell in 1,2,3

1 come dice il sottotitolo è un libro sul contributo dei prezzi delle commodity al caos politico ed economico dei nostri tempi. Russell visita tutti i luoghi delle crisi degni anni 10,, Mosul, il Donbass,, Caracas, Mogadishu, il Guatamela. Bellissimi i reportage su Donbass e Caracas. Nella narrazione i reportage sono intervallati da interviste a studiosi portatori di piccoli pezzi di teoria che formano l’argomentazione, anche del calibro di Jeffrey Sachs per dire. Alla fine da una narrazione viva, emozionale della sociale e politica, emerge una rigorosa trattazione dei risvolti finanziari ed economici in un continuo zoom-dezoom dal macro al micro, dai luoghi dei reportage ai mercati globali, caos e frattali usati bene insieme nell’argomentazione. E dal caos degli anni 10 emerge chiaramente come i prezzi del petrolio causano guerre, i prezze dei cereali fame e rivolte per il pane, i prezzi della case, sappiamo delle grandi crisi finanziarie ma c’è dell’altro. La cosa che si apprezza di più di questo libro è la capacità di svelare un filo conduttore nelle crisi del decennio passato e, nel capitolo finale dedicato al Covid, riconoscere la discontinuità e proporre una tesi per il decennio in corso

2 è un libro che mi ha sorpreso per la forza della narrazione e degli argomenti. Molto incuriosito, ho cercato info sull’autore, è phd di sociologia ad Harvard ma complimenti, capisce davvero economa e finanza . In realtà il suo titolo è Sceneggiatore e Regista e quindi mi sono accorto, ma lo sapevo perchè lo dice nel libro, che esiste un documentario Price Wars, quindi progetto multimediale, ed è già stato trasmesso da Artè in Francia e Germania nel 2021, adesso lo sto cercando

3 ciliegina sulla torta, ho scoperto che figlio di Ken Russel, il regista inglese di Tommy e Quadrophenia e in qualche modo tutto è tornato a posto, figlio d’arte e non di un regista qualunque 🙂

Marshall Sahlins on economists

this bit from Anarchy, in a manner of speaking told by Graeber: “I’m a student of Marshall Sahlins, so I was trained to see unlimited desire as a theological illusion. Marshall always insisted the trouble with what we have come to call Western civilization is that it was founded on a false idea of human nature that traces back to the Sophists perhaps, through the Christian fathers’ conception of original sin, to liberal economists’ conception of utility.”

Money isn’t neutral

“There is no inherent money neutrality, neutrality must be constructed by institutional arrangements. Much of the New Deal in the 1930s and 1940s was designed to build alternative channels for lending”

it’s the Cantillon effect, the closer to the mine, the first to spend the new coins and drive inflation against those farther away.

In current terms, it’s the central banks who are very good to discount bonds and inject liquidity into big corps, but there’s no one just as good in lending to homeowners, small businesses, workers etc.

So, in the big financial crisis, banks get bailed while homeowners are kicked out of their homes.

In Covid times, the government makes a multi.trillion rescue package and the stock market rally, because money gets more easily to listed companies.

related, since money isn’t neutral, creating money is intrinsically politcal and we come to this Crypto and the Politics of Money Adam Tooze interviewed by Eugney Morozov

George vs Harbinger

rather, georgism vs harbinger tax, that latter, read in Radical Markets, struck as market nerdy (name your own price and pay taxes on it, but not too low or you’ll risk being bought out of your home) in principle has some advantages, encted in a world of great financial disparity, recurrent real estates bubbles, what can possibly go wrong ?

Why I thought about Harbinger ? I read Vitalik here on Bulldozers and Vetocracies, while I am not convinced this dimension he introduces is profound, fundamental and close to the basic mechanism, I got intrigued by his preference for Harbinger Tax and Quadratic Voting. QV was in Radical Markets but I have much recollections, it markets nerdy, introduces prices ion political decisions and the same doubts apply.

While we are not talking the same thing, lottery seems better solution to get out of dysfunctional prestige and charisma politics which attracts the wrong people. But then, quadratic voting would apply also fo lottery politicians, so better have a second look

reading december 2, 2021

St.Andrewism on Maslow, the pyramid which was not a pyramid, and the Siksika (Blackfoot) taken from this medium post

minute 8:00 of Graeber-Thiel debate “Where Did the Future Go?” David Graeber gives a perfect defintion of what acdemia would need to foster creativity again: give money to creative intellectuals instead of trapping them in competition, publish or perish and stuff

Now Progress Studies, Collison and Cowen, it started a couple of days back from the this 3d on ethics of Progress Studies, Collison offers they are catholic small c (universal maybe) start here

today I was reading this post from Applied Divinity Studies which introduced Stubborn Attachement, the book by Tyler Cowen, which I read but can’t remember much. Here the post he also wrote the Moral Foundation of Progress, to read

Why we need a ministry for the future (generations)

This is not about the book, this is about discount rates applied to long term, very long term, the one where we are all dead, and so our children, and their children all the way to 500 years which isn’t such a long span in historical terms but yields absurd results when using discount rates

It originates from chapter 4 of Stubborn Attachment by Tyler Cowen and ends up with Burke, worth giving it a second read, future generations is the ones we should fight the climate disaster for, thanks Greta for reminding us, this issue is moral and philosophical with great practical implications: imagine a world where we keep negative interest rates by means of printing a lot of money and make the future generations more valuable than ourselves

Modern slavery, according to ancient philosophers

click here and get to listen to David Graeber saying that Aristotle would not find much a distinction between the situation where you are so indebted that you sell yourself into slavery to work 12 hours a day, isn’t very different from the contemporary situation where you rent yourself to work 12 hours a day because you are indebted

It’s Graeber talking about his book Debt the first 5,000 years


things that work in TMFTF:

aerosol in the atmosphere to increase albedo, maybe

ecoterrorism, defintely so

slowing glaciers by pumping out water at the bottom, keeping oil riggers happy

organic agriculture, overcoming modernism in agriculture. It also sequesters carbon in the fertile level of the ground

CQE Climate Quantitative Easing, creating a crypto and allocating it to carbon sequestration

wildlife corridors averywhere

upgraded management of water resources, generally caring for things rather than not

easier said than done, but moving away from capitalism will help

nations states will stay, central banks will take leadership in financing postcapitalismm with cretive money.

China will rush ahead of US

and yeah ! Diirigibles and blimps everywhere, hypertech sailboats with 7 masts, that’s the way to go

ITW with the author

crooked timber run a series of posts on the book, Robinson replied, start from his reply and you will find the 8 articles

How Asia works

How Asia Works: Success and Failure in the World’s Most Dynamic Region by Joe Studwell is the book on development I want to read. Meanwhile in my bubble everybody is reading it and so here is Scott Alexander reviewing it

and here Noah Smith doing some critics to it “What Studwell got wrong “”

Studwell book is good because it has a 3-step concise, no-bullshit, recipe to develop past the middle income trap:

land reform

promote export

Control finance

Pretty much what would be anatema to IMF and World Bank, not requiring full democracy, rather working well under autocracy, but in the end economis and countries should open up to mjeet the gorwing challenges of an advanced economy

I have been wondering wether this recipe could work for Africa, I will keep an eye on the issue. By chance I ran into this blog post on the divergence in the tropics between some east asina and some west african countries, which in the end boild down to high food prices, which keep high industrial salaries and sitlfe growth. Also, in the flying geese model, asia had Japan, Africa has no seed investments from a contiguous mature country

Food Prices and the Little Divergence