Ah yes, the future, I’d been trying not to think about that. Matt Ridley has though, and he likes what he sees: free markets, free people and the triumph of reason. Rather! Mark Boyle, on the other hand is, to put it mildly, somewhat less sanguine about progress and technology. In order to save our planet and ourselves he’d have us return to a neo-primitive past. Me? In my optimistic moments at least, I’d like to think they’re both wrong and that there’s some hope for the future somewhere between the harebrained and the hair-shirted, which is probably why I really enjoyed this review in OpenDemocracy of Ridley and Boyle’s recent books.
Sticking to the future for the time being, also worth a read is Charles Kenny’s critique of the New Malthusians at Foreign Policy.
Meanwhile, an interesting article at VoxEu points to the fact (I think?) that much (but not all) of the recent improvements in life expectancy in developing countries have come from reduced infant mortality.
Did someone say economics? As you’ll know this blog has a policy of not discussing economics without at least one mention of industrial policy. Here we go: a great debate at the Economist between Rodrik and Lerner on IP.
Speaking of economic debates, how ’bout that fiscal stimulus aye? Barry Eichengreen has an interesting column at Project Syndicate.
While, in a feisty thread at Aidwatch, Michael Clemens offers a nice defence of quantitative research:
Numbers are one of many ways to organize information. While they can in some cases have the drawback of oversimplifying complex phenomena, they have the large advantage of creating transparency in how hypotheses are formulated and tested (provided one takes the time to study quantitative methods), and thus contribute to the falsifiability of claims.
And, closing out the economics section of this post, are people happier when insulated from market mechanisms? Some evidence.
Back in the qualitative world: a death in the Middle East. Not just any death though; one that makes the media; one that re-makes it; one that is made by it…Interesting analysis by David Kenner, Adam Shatz and Glen Greenwald.
Finally, having offered a qualified defense of AusAID in the face of a not particularly high quality media storm, it’s worth noting these two articles, both good and both pretty damming. The Crikey article is part of a series, with the rest of the series available to subscribers to that news-site.
[Update: just stumbled across a really good read - Michael Clemens on the Congo at 50.]