Columnist at Project Syndicate...

[I am strongly 'pro' this & that in these writings]

JUL 9, 2013
Switching Philosophical Tracks
While browsing a recently published biography of the development economist Albert Hirschman by Jeremy Adelman, I was reminded of Hirschman’s preoccupation with conflict between organised interests,…

JUN 26, 2013
1629, 1929, 2009: Always The Same
I don’t want to single out individuals, but it so happens that Tyler Cowen had an article in the New York Times on Sunday that mildly exemplifies the negative dystopian mood and the history-starved…

JUN 18, 2013
21st Century Risk and Danger
It seems inevitable that any system set up to deal with risk in the end becomes a source of danger. Or risk. Or danger. What’s the difference? Does it matter? I offer two cases - finance and…

JUN 14, 2013
The Structural Problem of Depression
In 1934, shortly after Keynes’s breezy and confident letter to President Roosevelt which demanded the United States (a) control the dollar exchange, (b) massively borrow and print money for large…

JUN 11, 2013
Central Bank Exits, Now’s The Moment To Decide
In activist circles there is excitement that central bankers might rule the post-crisis economic world and exercise new powers with a bigger toolkit. What was temporary or tacit during the emergency…

JUN 4, 2013
The End Of The Welfare State
What happens in the OECD countries when as a group their general government expenditures have exceeded 50 percent of GDP, when government expenditure on individual goods (i.e. social welfare…

MAY 27, 2013
Paul Krugman, The Ungracious Ideologue (And Loser)
For most people -- arguably even for most economists -- all that mattered was the knowledge that countries with debt over 90 percent of GDP tend to have slower growth than countries with debt below…


MAY 24, 2013
Schumpeter, Like Keynes, Was Childless
Schumpeter’s obituary of Keynes became news during May 2013, for all the wrong reasons. Schumpeter had said that Keynes “was childless”, and noted in the same sentence that Keynes’s “philosophy of…

MAY 17, 2013
Can a mass delusion be instrumentally rational? No. But it could be rational to strategically profit from other people’s stubborn delusion that house prices always rise. Another question: within the…

MAY 13, 2013
On average, higher debt correlates with lower economic growth. This is what studies by the IMF, the Bank for International Settlements, and Reinhart-Rogoff show. Causality could run both ways,…

APR 20, 2013
What sort of crisis is the West living through now? Has the response to the crisis been correct? The answer to the second question depends heavily on the answer to the first question. If there's been …

MAR 21, 2013
I have a theory, though lack statistical evidence to support it, that the Third Way trope is a phenomenon that recurs every three years, with deep troughs and high peaks occurring more or less every…

MAR 17, 2013
Ask an intelligent person, “what is the most conceited thing a biographer could ever say about their subject?”. After giving it some thought they might answer, the most conceited words a biographer…

DEC 6, 2012
Estimado Professor James: Thanks to the ether networks in the vaults of La Recoleta I have internet and keep an eye out for articles which mention the fate of Argentina. As principal author of our…

DEC 1, 2012
Usually any disagreement I have with Luigi Zingales is just a political science or sociology nitpick about a gap in the economic approach. I thought we broadly agreed on capitalism and reform,…

NOV 16, 2012
While browsing an art newspaper a familiar image jumped out at me - the interior of a colonial church in the Andean town of Andahuaylas. I have passed through several times; it lies on the road…

NOV 13, 2012
Yesterday Raghuram Rajan published an interesting article on competition in finance. He made the important point that competition was a very positive force in the financial sector after deregulation…

NOV 8, 2012
Why devote your energies to improving a state’s capacity to perform functions when instead you can manipulate the functions to make them easier to perform?I’m thinking of developing countries, but…

NOV 3, 2012
Francis Fukuyama makes some unconvincing claims: The political system of checks and balances is paralysing policy decision-making in the United States. Political science spends too much time studying …

OCT 29, 2012
In a middle ground of political moderation there could be agreement about a society built on “virtues of prudence, justice, and beneficence”. Yet since those words belong to Adam Smith, the question…

OCT 24, 2012
On his blog John Cochrane has posted the transcript of a lecture he gave at University of Chicago Law School proposing a free market in health care. It displays some of the relentless logic which…

OCT 22, 2012
Readers may recall that in June a senior IMF official sent a resignation letter to the IMF Board complaining of “European bias”, failures to act, and “risk aversion”. Two days later a Wall Street…

OCT 16, 2012
Once upon a time, in the undesigned market, economics was simple. The are no mysterious mechanical forces. There is no anonymity; there is me and you and Bill and Joe and all the rest. And each of us…

OCT 14, 2012
He appeared to talk and behave like one of those slick, cussing comfort, we-control-the-market, wheeler-dealer smiling phonies of a certain generation of the parasitic professional ‘progressive’…

SEP 10, 2012
To be frank, the ECB will be making European societies more krank not less. Frankfurter Allgemeine’s comments on news of the ECB’s monetary financing of overburdened welfare states was in tune…

SEP 5, 2012
Word is out to ignore the sentimental guff of the US presidential campaign because this one will truly be a contest of ideas. Mitt Romney is endorsed by distinguished economists (blogger economists…

AUG 26, 2012
Until 3 or 4 years ago it could be argued that modern societies are adaptive. Even then there were reasons to doubt this proposition. All kinds of impediments to adaptation remained from long ago or…

AUG 25, 2012
By sheer coincidence today I was in Cologne Zoo at the very moment when the 43-year old woman keeper was killed by the tiger, which was approximately midday. In the morning I had noticed the tigers…

AUG 3, 2012
When politicians, financial commentators, and senior bankers speak conscientiously about their determination to tackle “bank culture” problems, everybody should start to worry. Corporate culture may…

JUL 28, 2012
Behind a veil of ignorance, if asked to specify a single simple rule for regulating political economy, it should be “minimize the discretion of rulers and regulators”. That’s my opinion. I will…

JUL 20, 2012
There has recently been a flurry of popular interest in English common law. Niall Ferguson praised it in his recent BBC Reith Lectures, and British barristers present two separate BBC series…

JUL 9, 2012
Whether ideas or interests motivate most human behavior is a useful debate. In the final analysis people usually agree that most human action is driven or guided by a mixture of ideas and interests.…

JUL 3, 2012
What are the simplest relationships between rule of law and economic development as applied, for example, to a country like China? I’ve been rereading parts of Kenneth Dam’s book, The Law-Growth…

JUL 2, 2012
The PRI is celebrating victory in yesterday's election. I wonder if Mexico will really change. Here is something I wrote about the Mexican state and politics in 1992, twenty years ago almost to the…

JUN 27, 2012
Merkel Miracle: The day following my first post on Germany Angela Merkel told the German parliament there are no “miracle solutions” for the Euro crisis, and “Germany’s strength is not infinite”. She…

JUN 21, 2012
China is not capitalist. Neither are India, Brazil, Greece. It would be a stretch to call all of the OECD member countries capitalist. I doubt whether Japan or Spain really belong in the category.…

JUN 13, 2012
Attacks on Germany have gotten more venomous and personal this week. Its leaders stand accused of being “in denial”, “timid”, “obstinate”, “relentlessly negative”, “ignoring the lessons of the 1930s” …

JUN 5, 2012
In a BBC interview last week Paul Krugman said: “a full employment economy is by far the best environment in which to make structural adjustment; you can see that historically”. It’s a claim that…

MAY 29, 2012
This post is inspired by two articles published in the Financial Times by Luke Johnson, British serial entrepreneur and Chairman of Channel 4 and the Royal Society of Arts, in which he neatly…

MAY 25, 2012
Do you know what the famous book The Protestant Ethic is about? Scholars of the twentieth century misinterpreted it, in some cases deliberately. Most people receive their ideas about Weber not from…

MAY 22, 2012
To my hundreds [titter, sic] of loyal readers I must apologize for the long gap. It’s just two-months-today since I started this blog, and I haven’t yet learned to combine blogging with…

MAY 7, 2012
Three crisis policy principles:Consider no policy during recession that would not be equally useful during prosperity. Consider no policy whose intention is to evade or cushion the…

MAY 7, 2012
In the noisy urgent quarrel about economic crisis almost everybody is asking how to get out of recession or how not to get into recession. You’d be forgiven for thinking the menu boils down to…

MAY 7, 2012
How can we influence the economic policies of the new administration? I have lists ready: a short list of principles, a slightly longer list of institutional boundary rules, and an infinite list of…

MAY 4, 2012
I let the following quote speak for itself, and hope to return soon to draw out more substantive points relating to policy during a recession. Schumpeter was writing in 1941. Note in passing, Barry…

APR 26, 2012
A review: The first impression is that the authors of Poor Economics (PE) and Why Nations Fail (WNF) are productively at loggerheads over the causes of poverty and wealth. Acemoglu and Robinson (WNF) …

APR 21, 2012
[A BBC interview yesterday with Hernando de Soto on the problem of shadow banking will be followed by an excursus about his impact on a student of development economics in the early 1980s.] BBC…

APR 19, 2012
Burnings of art across Europe in protest against austerity, if they gathered momentum, could generate hostility to modern art and more public awareness of the coddling of mediocre artists and art…

APR 18, 2012
Anyone following the ‘oil edition’ of the soap-opera-that-is-Buenos-Aires-politics this week -- especially the rhetorical flourishes of the charismatic Keynesian economist Axel Kiciloff, the…

APR 15, 2012
Friedrich knows Karl well enough to see how hard he is trying to conceal his agitation over news that the new LSE Chair in Sociology will be filled by a utopia studies specialist. So-called…

APR 10, 2012
I can slip into this unique meeting of a group of European policymakers with Immanuel Kant only because I am an intern with training in stenography who is discreet and presentable and good at making…

APR 3, 2012
The drum beat of demonstrators a few streets away in Madrid’s financial district can be heard. There are shouts, and dull thuds which could be the sound of feet hitting the reinforced glass doors of…

MAR 30, 2012
Just out, a new article (pdf) by the brilliant Nassim Nicholas Taleb. So instead of relying on thousands of meandering pages of regulation, we should enforce a basic principle of “skin in the…

MAR 30, 2012
President Cristina Kirchner, like her husband Néstor before her, plays with the rules of Argentina’s international trade like a Machiavellian puppeteer pulling the nationalist strings. All of this…

MAR 28, 2012
Karl Popper wrote that “the transition from the closed to the open society [is] one of the deepest revolutions through which mankind has passed”. It’s a transition still underway all over the world.…

MAR 27, 2012
Actually it was February 2002, not March. We won’t quibble about 30 days. Remember yesterday I said there can sometimes be hazards in taking out insurance?Ecuador’s top military brass stepped down on…

MAR 26, 2012
Goodness and finance are not words one usually sees sitting alongside each other in the same sentence. There was a sensible idea -- doux commerce -- at the time of the European Enlightenment that a…

MAR 24, 2012
Mentor said: “Theory is what we do on the weekends”. As he uttered those words I believe he was looking not at me but towards forested hills on the outskirts of campus. His walking boots and stick…

MAR 23, 2012
Libertarian academic Charles Murray did not emerge glorious and triumphant from a lunch with the FT earlier this month. The Browser described the interview thus: “Manages to convey that the …

MAR 22, 2012
It being Budget Day yesterday in Britain I reached down Joseph Schumpeter’s weighty History of Economic Analysis (1954), which contains a short magnificent ode to Gladstonian finance. William Ewart…



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