The staid young: Oh! you pretty things.
The Economist on how young people are not the alcohol ridden hooligans they were thought to be (and how changing parenting styles, amongst other factors, may have contributed).
What’s gone wrong with Democracy?
It was the most successful political idea of the 20th century. Why has it run into trouble, and what can be done to revive it? Excellent Essay of the Economist.
It's good to be
the Kinga Micklethwait.
A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but a new study of unusual surnames offers some depressing insights into the lingering impact of class on social mobility.
In 1820 Gregor MacGregor, chieftain of the Central American principality of Poyais arrived in London and explained his problem: his principality had a fine climate, friendly natives, and a democratic government, but it needed investors and settlers to help develop it and exploit its abundant natural resources. To this end his government was to issue a £200,000 bond which would pay off at a generous 6%, as well as land rights for a modest 3 shillings an acre. MacGregor would eventually raise funds worth £3.2 billion -at today's prices- for the entirely fictional principality; this makes him arguably the most successful con-men of all time
. [more inside]
And think about it for a second: this is bizarre. If Americans are in fact divided between two extremely different political ideologies, it would be an extraordinary coincidence if each of those philosophies were to hold the allegiance of nearly equal blocs of support. [more inside]
this story stretches far beyond Britain. Barclays is the first bank in the spotlight because it offered to co-operate fully with regulators. It will not be the last. Investigations into the fixing of LIBOR and other rates are also under way in America, Canada and the EU. Between them, these probes cover many of the biggest names in finance: the likes of Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, UBS, Deutsche Bank and HSBC. Employees, from New York to Tokyo, are implicated.
The rotten heart of finance
. A scandal over key interest rates is about to go global.
Naomi Wolf: The media's 'bad apple' thesis no longer works.
This global financial fraud and its gatekeepers
A recent article
in the Economist followed up on the British cover
of this week's edition with a scathing attack on the economic case for Scottish independence. The Scottish National Party
, currently in power and preparing for an independence referendum
, are not amused
but at least they have a powerful friend
that can help out these days. [more inside]
In the latest
(ongoing) Economist debate
), security expert Bruce Schneier
and architect of the TSA Kip Hawley
are facing off to respectively defend and attack the motion "This house believes that changes made to airport security since 9/11 have done more harm than good." Overview
. Opening statements
. (Surprisingly cogent) comments from the floor
The Buddha tells the people he can fulfil only one of their wishes. Someone asks: "Could you lower the price of property in China so that people can afford it?" Seeing the Buddha frown in silence, the person makes another wish: "Could you make the Chinese football team qualify for a World Cup?
" After a long sigh, the Buddha says: "Let's talk about property prices." [more inside]
Where Federal taxes are raised and spent.
"Some American states receive more in federal spending than they pay in federal taxes; others receive less. Over twenty years these fiscal transfers can add up to a sizeable sum."
A graph of the United States, color-coded to indicate surplus or deficit.
What to do about Pakistan? The Economist urges the west
to focus on
the Kashmir issue
in order to help stabilize the region. Christopher Hitches urges the US to stand more firmly behind India
"When a Nobel Prize Isn't Enough."
With a sharply-worded rebuke of the congressional GOP, Nobel Prize-winning economist Peter Diamond has announced he is withdrawing
as a candidate for the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors due to GOP obstructionism. Republican Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, a leading critic of Diamond's appointment, welcomes the announcement
and raises a predictable call for a candidate "capable of garnering bipartisan support in the Senate."
“This house believes that the global elite serve the masses.”
The Economist’s latest online debate questions the role of the global elite in western society.
The Dancer and the Terrorist.
When Peru’s most wanted man, Abimael Guzmán Reynoso
, was captured in 1992, a young ballerina, Maritza Garrido Lecca,
went to jail too
, for harbouring him at her studio. The story was turned into a novel
, “The Dancer Upstairs
). This year, the author of the novel, Nicholas Shakespeare
, flew to Lima to meet the dancer at last — and to ask her whether she was guilty.
Do American citizens really want the agriculture jobs "illegals" are "taking?" Apparently not...
"Only 8,600 people expressed an interest in working in the fields, says Ms Machuca. But they made demands that seem bizarre to farmworkers, such as high pay, health and pension benefits, relocation allowances and other things associated with normal American jobs. In late September only seven American applicants in the “Take our jobs” campaign were actually picking crops."
The Economist has created a rather cool interactive US map.
The map allows a by state look at economic data (unemployment, GDP, personal income), demographic data, and voting in 2004 and 2008. (single link Economist)
How the Bad Boy of Brit-Art Grew Rich at the Expense of His Investors
From the Economist:
IN 2008 just over $270m-worth of art by Damien Hirst was sold at auction, a world record for a living artist. By 2009 Mr Hirst’s annual auction sales had shrunk by 93%—to $19m—and the 2010 total is likely to be even lower. (The average auction price for a Hirst work in 2008 was $831,000. So far in 2010 it is down to $136,000, a sum that does not even take into account the many lots that failed to find buyers.)
Obituaries editors probably belong by the sea. The cries of seagulls are their music, fading into infinity, and the light-filled sky bursts open like a gateway out of the world. The elderly gravitate there, shuffling in cheerful pairs along Marine Parade or jogging in slow motion past the Sea Gull Café, intent on some distant goal. Their skin is weathered and tanned, as if they have fossilised themselves in ozone to keep death at bay. They wear bright trainers, young clothes. But they have shifted to the shore here, or in Bexhill, or in Eastbourne, as if to the edge of life, and each flapping deck-chair reserves a waiting-place. Ann Wroe, obituaries editor of The Economist, muses on mortality and the sea
in the latest correspondent's diary
, a series of articles by various Economist writers. You can read the magazine's obituaries here
, including a recent one of former obituaries editor Keith Colquhoun
. [Ann Wroe previously]
Professional oboe player, senior economist in the UK Treasury, fellow of King's College, Cambridge, son-in-law of Jacob Epstein
(and model for his statue of St Michael
). Wynne Godley
, who also wrote about his 'disastrous encounter'
with the psychoanalyst Masud Khan
in the 1960s, died last week
. [more inside]
The European map is outdated and illogical. Here's how it should look.
The Economist reports
on a study published in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
) about how loneliness moves through a community. [more inside]
In 2010, Obama will have a miserable year
, NATO may lose in Afghanistan
, the UK gets a regime change
, China needs to chill
, India's factories will overtake its farms
, Europe risks becoming an irrelevant museum
, the stimulus will need an exit strategy
, the G20 will see a challenge from the "G2"
, African football
will unite Korea
, conflict over natural resources will grow
, Sarkozy will be unloved and unrivalled
, the kids will come together to solve the world's problems (because their elders are unable)
, technology will grow ever more ubiquitous
, we'll all charge our phones via USB
, MBAs will be uncool
, the Space Shuttle will be put to rest
, and Somalia will be the worst country in the world
. And so the Tens
The Economist: The World in 2010
. [more inside]
Two articles from The Economist's Intelligent Life magazine about changes in knowledge production and acquisition, The Last Days of the Polymath
by Edward Carr and Is Google Killing General Knowledge?
by Brian Cathcart. The first deals with the implications of increasing specialization in all field of human activity and the second with whether people are not committing facts to memory because they are so easy to look up on the internet.
Why bureaucracy, like gas,
fills up all available space. From the archive of The Economist
, 1955 [via ArchiveDigger
"I once proposed a solution somewhat tongue in cheek to the problem of pensions: turn retirement upside down ... people would be supported by society up to the age of 30. During that period they would study, travel, prepare for a profession, reproduce and give full-time care to their young ... After 30, they would work until they dropped dead or became incapacitated.
" Letter from physicist Cylon Gonçalves da Silva
to The Economist in response to this original article
on the problems of an ageing global population.
Economist Bryan Caplan is author of the best contemporary critique of democracy and democraticness
), and therefore the person I'd most like to visit Singapore and share his thoughts. He recently took a trip
to this quasi-democracy lauded for both its pro-growth policies and its strong, competent government (and criticized for its repression and its draconian penal code). The trip to what is in some ways an economist's utopia allowed Caplan to think about the implications of his own writings, and the validity of Churchill's dictum
on democracy. Here's what he had to say: [more inside]
Snowed in this weekend? Done with your Christmas shopping? Perhaps you're in no mood to shop anymore. Gather your friends together for a low-tech round of The Economist's Credit Crunch Board Game
In 2009, a remarkably gifted politician, confronting a remarkably difficult set of challenges
, will have to learn to say "No we can't"
, Guantánamo will prove a moral minefield
, economic recovery will be invisible to the naked eye
, governments must prepare for the day they stop financial guarantees
, we will judge our commitment to sustainability
, scientists should research the causes of religion
, we will all be potential online paparazzi
, English will have more words than any other language
(but it's meaningless), Afghanistan will see a surge of Western (read: American) troops
, Iran will continue its nuclear quest
while diplomacy lies in shambles
, the sea floor is the new frontier
, we should rethink aging
, (non-)voters will continue to thwart the European project
-- but cheap travel will continue to buoy it
-- though it has some unfinished business to attend to
, and a Nordic defence bond will blossom
.The Economist: The World in 2009
. [more inside]
Freakonomics coauthor/blogger writes
about a "spelling mistake" the Economist made in a recent issue.
He is corrected
within 5 minutes.
The Economist responds
to his "correction".
Two takes on the immediate future of the electric car: we are either "Going Nowhere Fast
" (if you ask a petrolhead from Top Gear magazine
) or we are witnessing "The End of the Petrolhead
" (if you ask The Economist). A bestiary of current and planned models includes TeslaMotors
(now in production), Fisker Automotive
(who are being sued by Teslamotors), the GM Volt
(due 2010), The Lighting Car Company
, the plug in Prius
, the GWiz
(now slightly less squishy
apparently), the Corbin Sparrow
, a few (vapory?)
models from Zap!
and the wondrous Sinclair C5
In 2008, China will fail to ride the Olympics wave and improve its worldwide image
, the US will vote mainly
(barring a terrorist attack or a recession), usher in a period of pragmatic caution
and toast to it over a nice Merlot
, the culture wars will go global
, Israel may decide that it must act alone against Iran
, African gangs will prosper
, UK politics will be re-established as a spectator sport
, we will finally quit oil - and want yet more of it
, the potato will make a comeback
, an island will be moved for the sake of the Euro
, we will rush to give for free what others charge for
, U will HAV CASH
, robots will explore the seas of Earth
, which is round
, by the way, pigs will fly
, and we will like totally love it
The Economist: The World in 2008
. [more inside]
Chasing women will take years off of your life.
But hey, things always even out somehow. You'll just return the favor to your poor, innocent mother.
I don't know what other people’s first thoughts may be on Monday mornings; but mine, as the jabber of my husband’s radio crawls into my dreams, is “Has anyone died today?”
a week-long diary
by The Economist's obituaries
editor, Ann Wroe, which she completed today.
An interesting and in-depth article at The Economist about the state of recycling.
It discusses the past and future of recycling as well as the flow of materials, energy and monetary costs, and technology involved. Info on local programs and other related stuff can be found at the EPA's recycling site
Marriage in America: The Frayed Knot.
"As the divorce rate plummets at the top of American society and rises at the bottom, the widening “marriage gap” is breeding inequality."
, a young Bangladeshi economics professor named Muhammad Yunus
founded Grameen Bank
to implement microcredit
— lending small sums to the very poorest members of society. Today, he and his bank share
the Nobel Peace prize
, a profit-making
company with social objectives, has lent $5.3bn to 6.4m people. 97% of borrowers are women, as Yunus believes
[video] "men will do whatever they could to enjoy for themselves personally [but] women looked at it for the children, for the family and for the future."
, the airline that tells it like it is.
The Economist asks, "In-flight announcements are not entirely truthful. What might an honest one sound like?"