Archive for February, 2008

The latest Fund Strategy has a comment by me on the debate about productivity trends in America. It seems a world away but the late 1990s discussion of the “new economy” is worth revisiting in the light of recent data. Looking at trends in productivity growth helps discern the direction in which the American economy, […]

Today’s Something Understood programme on BBC Radio 4, presented by Mark Tully, was unwittingly revealing about the thrust of the happiness discussion. Its main emphasis is that people should be happy with what they have got rather than try to achieve more. The case was put by the presenter and most articulately by Anthony Seldon, […]

William Easterly, doyen of free market development economists, had a polemic against Bill Gates’ “creative capitalism” schemes to help the poor in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal. Easterly rightly attacks the limitiations of schemes such as the partnership to give African farmers access to the premium coffee market. “This is fine as a modest endeavor to […]

The backlash against an obsessive attachment to happiness seems to be gaining ground. An article in the December 2007 issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science evidently argues that moderate happiness is better than maximising happiness. A press release from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign quotes Ed Diener, one of the authors of the study, […]

Newsweek has a particularly interesting article on the backlash against the obsession with happiness (2 February). This blog has already mentioned some of the key references but it adds more as well as some illuminating details: * Allan V Horwitz and Jerome Wakefield The Loss of Sadness: How Psychiatry Transformed Normal Sorrow Into Depressive Disorder […]

Kenneth Rogoff, a professor of economics at Harvard and former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, expressed concern about inequality in an article in yesterday’s Financial Times. Although the article focused on the possibility of a Chinese economic slowdown its points on inequality were much broader. He argues that: “Protectionism is another growing risk. […]

Even free market economists are rethinking their outright support for free trade according to an article in Business Week (31 January). Worries focus on the alleged impact of trade growth in widening inequalities: “concern is rising that the gains from free trade may increasingly be going to a small group at the top. For the […]

Pranab Bardhan, a professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, has an interesting article in the Boston Review (“What makes a miracle” January / February 2008) on myths of Chinese and Indian development. His concern is to show the misconceptions in the standard account of recent rapid growth in China and India. He […]

Unicef’s latest annual report on The state of the world’s children (PDF) reveals enormous improvements in infant mortality. Evidently the number of deaths of children under five fell from about 20m in 1960 – the earliest year for which such figures are available – to under 10m in 2006. This despite a large increase in […]