Why I am so optimistic – 3

December 31, 2015, 9:22 am
The future is so bright we need sunglasses. Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

The future is so bright we need sunglasses. Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

The number of people working in manufacturing has been declining for many years. Those job losses will continue at the same time as technology disrupts other industries causing the loss of more jobs.

This is not a new concept. Technological advances have devastated farm employment over the last 150 years.

Prof. Thomas Tunstall pondered Where the New Jobs Will Come From. Sub headline on his 11/4/15 article said:

In 2007 iPhone application developers didn’t exist. By 2011 Apple had $15 billion in mobile-app revenues.

Consider the percentage of the population employed in agriculture over time: Read the rest of this entry »


Why I am so optimistic – 1

December 29, 2015, 7:36 am
200 years ago subsistence agriculture was the norm across the planet. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

200 years ago brutal poverty was the norm across the planet. Not so today. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

When I look at the political news or any news in general I get very pessimistic about our future.

In contrast, when I look at the amazing things happening beyond the headlines in today’s newspaper I feel incredibly optimistic.

Consider that private companies are developing the technology for space exploration. Consider the energy revolution created by hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. Consider radical changes in technology that are making so many things easier, faster, and cheaper. Consider that anyone that wants to do so can publish their own book, distribute their own music, or create a feature movie.

As a tiny illustration, look at my company and pastimes. Technology allows me to run a high quality CPA practice without any staff. In my spare time I am a publisher and journalist. Anyone in Europe or North America or most of Asia could easily do the same and at minimal cost.

When I look at long-term economic trends I am incredibly optimistic.

For yet one more explanation of why that is the case, consider a column by Glenn Reynolds at USA Today: Actually, things are pretty good / Free markets and free inquiry have changed the historic ‘norms’ of poverty and violence.

Until relatively recently, an illness-filled short life of dirt-eating poverty was the normal condition for practically everybody on the planet. In the last 100 or 200 years life has gotten radically better for practically everyone.

Read the rest of this entry »


To sort through the question of how to share economic and health progress with everyone, check out a book from the winner of this year’s Nobel award in economics

October 12, 2015, 8:12 am
Cover of Prof. Deaton's book, used under fair use, courtesy of Amazon.com

Cover of Prof. Deaton’s book, used under fair use for this review, courtesy of Amazon.com

Why have we seen such dramatic improvement in average wealth and average life expectancy everywhere in the last 100 or 200 years? What has led to a radical reduction in the number of people living in dirt-eating poverty in the last 50 years?

Over the last few years I have focused a lot of my reading on economics and history trying to figure out the answers to those questions. Why?

If we figure out the answer to those questions we can continue in the same direction. If we sort out how we got here, we can share that strategy with those who have not shared in the progress. If you want a different phrasing, we can radically narrow economic inequality within countries and between countries if we can answer those questions. We can help get even more people out of dirt-eating poverty.

I think those goals are in the back of the mind for most readers of this blog.

Read the rest of this entry »


The world is messy and there is no silver bullet for development

December 3, 2014, 7:37 am

That headline is my feeble summary of a superb 6,000 word article at the New Republic by Michael Hobbes: Stop Trying to Save the World – Big ideas are destroying international development.

In the last year he has read all the books on the shortfalls in development he can find.

The article covers a lot of ground. Here are the three biggest points for me:

There is no silver bullet that will fix all problems or work in all situations.

and

We need to modify our expectations that we can find a silver bullet.

and

Projects that work splendidly in one specific location in one set of circumstances won’t scale up by a factor of a thousand and might not do any good if you roll it out across the country.

I often talk of unintended consequences.

New phrase for today is “complex adaptive systems.”

Read the rest of this entry »


Improved self-governance is key to development in Africa

August 12, 2013, 6:53 am

That is the core point made by Dr. Mo Ibrahim on how to develop the economies of all 57 African countries. He explains his ideas at: Mo Ibrahim On How (And Why) Africa Should Solve Its Own Problems.

He wonders why African people are so poor. He thinks of where Ghana, Egypt, China, India, and Singapore were 50 years ago. Then, Ghana and Egypt were the richest countries of those five. Look how far the other three have advanced.

The problem is bad governance in both the public and private sectors.

Read the rest of this entry »


“Deck the Halls with Macro Follies” – Economists sing your favorite holiday carols

December 6, 2012, 7:02 am

Remember the rapping economists we saw here and here?  They’re back!

Just in time for Christmas, EconStories imagines their fantasy Christmas album featuring the classic hits from Keynes, Hayek, and other renown singers you know and love.

Enjoy the greatest collection of economic hits ever aggregated.

 Remember, the only one who has the power to create presents out of thin air is Santa himself.

If you want a few 20 second explanations of how to slow or increase the economy, check out the new interpretations of your favorite songs of the season.

Link, if you need it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_profilepage&v=7uKnd6IEiO0#t=41s

hat tip Cafe Hayek


A short explanation of why feel good aid might make things worse

April 17, 2012, 9:40 am

In The Broken “Buy-One, Give-One” Model: 3 Ways to Save Toms Shoes author Cheryl Davenport provides a concise description of the underlying problem with the TOMS model.

There’s a huge number of articles out there describing the conceptual issues.  Ms. Davenport has a great recap:

First, the Toms buy-one-give-one model does not actually solve a social problem. Rather, the charitable act of donating a free pair of shoes serves as little more than a short-term fix in a system in need of long-term, multi-faceted economic development, health, sanitation, and education solutions.

Read the rest of this entry »