Archive for May, 2008

John Komlos, a professor of economics at the University of Munich, has evidently done extensive work on how physical height generally rises with prosperity – what he calls “anthropometric history”. For example, he is quoted in a recent article in the Chicago Tribune (28 May) saying: “height is a pretty good indicator of how well […]

Tonight watched the Life after people documentary on Channel 4. It was based on an interesting thought experiment: what would happen to the earth if humans suddenly disappeared. The documentary looked at the Earth at different time periods of humanity’s disappearance to see how long signs of humanity would survive. No doubt many environmentalists would […]

Last year the New York Times ran a series of articles on pollution in China entitled “Choking on growth”. Today Nicholas Kristof, a regular Times columnist, has a comment headlined “Where breathing is deadly”. No prizes for guessing which country he was talking about. Kristof refers to one of the earlier articles which estimates that […]

This week’s Economist includes a discussion (subscription required) of the World Bank’s $1 a day poverty line – its official measure of absolute poverty. However, the World Bank is rethinking this measure, which first emerged in the 1990 World Development Report, as it does not take into account relative deprivation. Evidently two new working papers […]

A leader in today’s Financial Times includes a useful summary of the just published Growth Report from the Commission on Growth and Development: “The “Washington Consensus” – stabilise, privatise and liberalise – is dead. Long live the new pragmatism. That is the message of “the growth report” released this week by the commission on growth […]

Will Hutton, writing in his regular Observer column on Sunday, was quick to blame corruption for the devastation caused by the recent Chinese earthquake. He associated this in turn with rapid economic growth: “Corruption is ubiquitous, which is why so many buildings were deathtraps. Another woman drew attention to the government and party buildings that […]

Arthur Brooks, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and author of Gross National Happiness (Basic Books), argues in an article in the May / June issue of The American that it is success rather than money that brings happiness. For Brooks money is important simply as an indirect measure of success. For Brooks […]

I am hardly a regular reader of Marie Claire but I was struck by how its June eco-chic edition managed to combine environmentalism, beauty and celebrity. Amid the adverts for brands such as D&G;, Estee Lauder and Clinique are Cate Blanchett endorsing Marie Claire’s campaign to stop global warming, profiles of Hollywood stars turned eco-campaigners […]

It is becoming increasingly clear how mainstream concern for labour standards has become (see 6 May 2008 post). It used to be the case that radicals would typically support workers in their struggles against employers. Today self-appointed defenders of labour standards seek to protect employees against greedy companies. In the past it was about expressing […]

There follows a comment by me on rising global food prices from the latest Fund Strategy magazine (12 May). It is linked to a longer cover story I wrote on the subject. The world seems to be suffering from the delusion that there is a chronic shortage of food. Rising consumption of food in the […]