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

Resilient as a Cuban

After Cuba lost USSR financial support in the n90’s,, calories intake fell, they lost weight and became helathier, mortality fell “Impact of Energy Intake, Physical Activity, and Population-wide Weight Loss on Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes Mortality in Cuba, 1980–2005”

Conversely, when North Korea lost that support, infant mortality and mortality over 65 started diverging markedly versus South Korea “The life expectancy gap between North and South Korea from 1993 to 2008 “

I found it in this 3d of the Pseudoerasmus which start off mortality comparison between China and India last century betwee

Income inequality

the world taken as a single country would be as unequal as the most unequal country on earth, South Africa

World’s inequality was reduced in the past 30 years, for the first time since maybe the 1820’s and this was mainly due to China getting back into the world economy. No longer, right now China is more unequal than the average, so its growth will add inequality

Will Africa grow and reduce world inequality? Very likely no, african countries need growing on avergae 7-8% a year and historically they have not recorded that steady growth ever. And also India needs growing and pulling its population out of poverty, will it succed?

So, unless advqned countries takes a decisive action within, world inequality will soon stop oing down and will start growing again

Thanks Branko Milanovic for that clear view

and 2 charts from here

Africa latent assets

– African societies are based on achieved status – is closely related to Chinese meritocracy (..) shows Africa to be the most socially mobile part of the world. Africans are also the most optimistic about future mobility.

-‘scepticism of authority’. Unlike many societies in East Asia, Africa is much more like Western liberal democracies in its anticipation that political power will be abused

-‘cosmopolitanism’. Because of the heterogeneous and small-scale nature of historical African society, Africans endlessly had to deal with differences – different languages, different cultures, different histories. This is reflected in African languages where the word for “stranger” is typically the same word as for “guest

from here

Got to note this here while I a reading “Things fall apart” by Chinua Achebe, where it shows

econometrics and strategy statistics

“Differences of opinion in economics are not largely about the precision of estimated data, a la high energy physics, but about the particular assumptions used by the analyst to move from data to estimated parameters of interest. Taking this seriously is what I mean above by “strategic statistics”: the fact that identification in economics requires choices by the analyst means we need to take the implications of those choices seriously”

“there is often a tension between reporting results truthfully and the decisions taken based on those results”


Deustch in “Beginning of Infinty” says “Like scientific theories, policies cannot be derived from anything. They are conjectures. And we should choose between them not on the basis of their origin, but according to how good they are as explanations: how hard to vary.”

AOC, Smith and the Invisible Hand

AOC says she likes Adam Smith and discussion ensues

Is Adam Smith the capitalist forefather that unveiled to us the Invisible Hand, she decides who stays low or climb high (said with the voice of those green critters in You Story

Bad news, Adam Smith only used the I.H. expression 3 times in his books, two of them he used it to make fun of old things, the 3rd stuck but we are not sure that was not sardonic either

So let us forget the interpretations that piled up over the centuries, let us go and read him like Chomsky did

You got to read the classics especially when the times are achanging

Startups stock options homoploutia

Questo è un link che ti aiuta a decidere quante stock options dare alle persone che lavorano nella tua startup.

se sei dall’altra parte, quella di ricevere un’offerta da una startup, a questo link puoi trovare dei riferimenti su quanto farti pagare quante opzioni chiedere a seconda dello stage della startup

nei tempi che viviamo non c’è più la netta differenza tra lavoro e capitale, tra lavoratore e imprenditore nell accesso a redditi da capitale, il modo migliore per affrontare la vita è quella di lavorare per avere delle quote di azioni del posto in cui lavori

Questo fenomeno di crescente sovrapposizione tra il ruolo di lavoratore e capitale, si definisce homoploutia. il termine è stato coniato dall’economista Branco milanovich ed è giusto conoscere il fenomeno per capire come funziona la distribuzione del reddito la disuguaglianza nel mondo attuale.

Questo è uno dei motivi per cui mi fa piacere lavorare con te al progetto di imparare a conoscere i mercati finanziari e gli investimenti


Progressiv-ism, -ism like in Illumin-ism which followed the dark ages, Progressivism comes after the Great Depression. The Great depression is the title of the book written by the economist Tyler Cowen. Tyler and the tech entrepenuer Patrick Collison, founder of Stripe, have started the filed of “Progressive Studies”. They did so when they wrote the piece “we need a new science of progress” and now there is a page where you can check a lot of contributions to it

Oh, in there, Zuck interviews Tyler Cowen and Patrick Collison. Zuckerberg looking at things, interviewing things

TFP (total factor productivity, what the hell is it)

Preview(opens in a new tab)

“For centuries, remember, Italians looked up in wonder at the cupola of the Pantheon, the arches of the dry aqueducts, and wondered how they had been built. ”

Things that depresses TFP, for future reference. TFP is often quoted as the problem but really seems an epiphenomenon. From Noahopinion

A critique of TFP that I shoiuld read

Also, TFP as a proxy of economic success, ameasure of ignorance (cit Moses Abramovitz) Wgy do countries differ in TFP?

Storia invece di multiverso

esci dalla facoltà di economia con l’idea che l’uomo economoco è razionale e su questa razionalità l’economia non riesce a spiegare la cooperazione: l’uomo economico pensa solo a massimizzare la propria utilità e lo fa pensando a se stesso

poi, 30 anni dopo, scopri che questo è così per come la teoria dell’utilità è stata formalizzata a partire dal1 8esimo secolo. Ogni decisione che l’attore razionale prende è autonoma da ogni altra, un attore razionale che fa molte scelte -per la teoria della utilità- lo sta facendo nei diversi universi di un multiverso. E’ la conseguenza di aver ipotizzato l’ergodicità, cioè l’omogeneità nel tempo per cui si può ipotizzare l’indipendenza degli eventi. Toglindo la storia dalla teoria ‘economia dell’utilità.

Invece se la storia la si rimette dentro, quello che decido oggi si “compund” su quello che ho deciso ieri e sarà la base del compound della decisione di domani, allora si ha una cosa come The Farmer Fable, dove il comportamento razionale, cioè quello che massimizza l’utilità, è la cooperazione e il pooling delle risorsa. Potere del compounding dell’utilità, della storia invece del Multiverso

Questo nuovo approccio -in maniera poco chiara IMO- viene chiamato Ergodicity Economics, in realtà the economics che elimina l’assunto di ergodicità per arrivare a una descrizione piùrealistica dell’essere umano che investe e nel farlo elimina anche un po di paradossi che si sono presentati nella teoria tradizionale.