The Scarecrow Of National Debt

By Robert Skidelsky – A government that can issue debt in its own currency can easily keep interest rates low. The rates are bounded by concerns about inflation, over-expansion of the state sector, and the central bank’s independence; but, with our relatively low levels of debt (Japan’s debt amounts to over 230% of its GDP) and depressed output and inflation, these limits are quite distant in the UK and the US.

And as the record bears out, continuous increases in both countries’ national debt since the crash have been accompanied by a fall in the cost of government borrowing to near zero. more>


The world wide cage


Utopia Is Creepy, Author: Nicholas Carr.
The Paradise Within the Reach of All Men, Author: John Adolphus Etzler.
The Wealth of Networks, Author: Yochai Benkler.
Being Digital, Author: Nicholas Negroponte.

By Nicholas Carr – Intellectuals spanning the political spectrum, from Randian right to Marxian left, have portrayed the computer network as a technology of emancipation. The virtual world, they argue, provides an escape from repressive social, corporate and governmental constraints; it frees people to exercise their volition and creativity unfettered, whether as entrepreneurs seeking riches in the marketplace or as volunteers engaged in ‘social production’ outside the marketplace.

Benkler and his cohort had good intentions, but their assumptions were bad. They put too much stock in the early history of the web, when the system’s commercial and social structures were inchoate, its users a skewed sample of the population. They failed to appreciate how the network would funnel the energies of the people into a centrally administered, tightly monitored information system organized to enrich a small group of businesses and their owners. more>

Updates from GE

These Top 10 Emerging Technologies Will Change The World. But Let’s Proceed With Caution.
By Andrew Maynard – Take an advanced technology. Add a twist of fantasy. Stir well, and watch the action unfold.

It’s the perfect recipe for a Hollywood tech-disaster blockbuster. And clichéd as it is, it’s the scenario that we too often imagine for emerging technologies. Think superintelligent machines, lab-bred humans, the ability to redesign whole species – you get the picture.

It’s tempting to ask what concrete harm technologies like those in this year’s top ten could cause, then simply figure out how to “fix” the problems. For instance, how do we ensure that “logical” self-driving cars safely share the road with less “logical” humans? Or how do we prevent bacteria that are genetically programmed to produce commercial chemicals from polluting the environment? These are risks that lend themselves to technological solutions.

But focusing on such questions can mask much more subtle dangers inherent in emerging technologies, threats that aren’t as amenable to technological fixes, and that we all too easily overlook.

For example, being infused with internet-connected nano-sensors that reveal your most intimate biological details to the world could present social and psychological risks that can’t be solved by technology alone. more>

The Clearest Evidence That Shows How Money Shapes America’s Elections


Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems, Author: Thomas Ferguson.

By Lynn Parramore – Citizens have long suspected that “We the People” increasingly means “We the Rich” at election time.

What are the facts about total campaign spending and election outcomes?

The researchers write: “We can pool all spending by and on behalf of candidates and then examine whether relative, not absolute, differences in total outlays are related” to the differences in votes received by the major political parties.

Their answer is stunning: there is strong, direct link between what the major political parties spend and the percentage of votes they win. more>

Why Don’t We Trust Our Leaders?

By Ngaire Woods – In developed democracies today, political leadership is increasingly up for grabs. Voters, clearly tired of the status quo, want change at the top, leaving even major parties’ establishments struggling to install leaders of their choosing.

The message to the establishment is clear: we don’t trust you anymore. But some of the leaders voters do trust could pose a very real danger – to their supporters, their countries, and the world.

Trump – with his admiration of dictators, unabashed racism and sexism, ignorance regarding the issues, and mercurial temperament – stands at the top of this list.

Those who led the British campaign to leave the European Union – such as Conservatives like Boris Johnson (now the country’s foreign secretary) and Nigel Farage, the right-wing populist leader of the UK Independence Party – are similarly disparaged for recklessly jeopardizing the future of the UK and the EU alike.

If mainstream leaders want to change voters’ minds, they should look carefully at what leadership really means. Here, it is worth recalling the insights of US General George C. Marshall, who contemplated the topic as he worked to rebuild the US military in the 1940s.

Marshall argued that leadership is a matter not of rhetoric, but of character. In particular, leaders must display three key qualities to win the trust needed to lead effectively:

  • purpose,
  • impartiality, and
  • competence.

It is time to revitalize good leadership. more>

Why Groups Fail (Hint: For the Same Reasons that Nations Fail)


Moral Mazes: The World of Corporate Managers, Author: Robert Jackall.
Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty, Authors: Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson.

By David S. Wilson – In a nutshell, students motivated by dominance (but not students motivated by prestige) sabotaged their groups when their leadership position was threatened, but not otherwise.

They did this (in different versions of the experiment) by limiting the ability of the most talented group member to send messages to other group members, by isolating the most talented group member in a separate room, and by preventing the most talented group member from socially bonding with the other members. All of these tactics were clearly detrimental to the objectives of the group as a whole, abusing the student’s role as group leader.

The entire concept of leadership taught in most business schools and the structure of most business organizations (at least in the United States) is setup for the kind of abuse by power-hungry leaders illustrated by that elegant social psychology experiment.

Their elegant experiments contain the seeds of policy prescriptions. They were able to turn disruptive self-serving behaviors in power-hungry students on and off with their experimental treatments. Real social organizations can do the same with their institutional arrangements. more>

Think Big. Accelerate. Transform.

Ciena – Blue Planet is purpose-built for network operators, automating
service delivery and reducing operational complexity to enable Scalable, =
transformation to more open and programmable networks.

Blue Planet serves these main use cases:
• Multi-Domain Service Orchestration
• NFV Orchestration Functions
• SDN Management and Control
• Open Network Operating System

It does this on top of a disruptive, next-generation software architecture that leverages open source elements, model-driven the definition and templates, and container-based micro-services. more>

There’s No Such Thing as an Economic Miracle

By Tyler Cowen – One of the less heralded truths of economics is that growth miracles, while they make for good press, are overrated. It’s an insight that could help us better understand the outlook for developing countries such as China.

Denmark’s overall economic record is gloriously boring. From 1890 to 1916, per capita growth averaged about 1.9 percent per year, and if in 1916 you had forecast that this pace would continue for another 100 years, you would have been off by only about $200.

U.S. growth rates at the time were typically below 2 percent, and even lower up through 1860.

The 19th-century Latin American stagnation, aside from wasting valuable time, left much of the region with weaker infrastructure, poor educational systems and a more dysfunctional politics. All of this made rapid catch-up harder in the 20th century.

It’s hard for economies at or near the technological frontier to rapidly improve living standards, because invention is usually slower than playing catch-up by borrowing technologies from wealthier nations.

Such borrowing of know-how, along with exports and rapid investments in education and infrastructure, is what later allowed the Asian tigers of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and China to achieve growth rates of 8 percent to 10 percent a year. more>

The Brexit Question That Nobody Asked

By Clive Crook – The EU is plainly in deep trouble with or without the U.K., and its condition as a political project is anything but stable.

German officialdom (backed by popular opinion) is viscerally opposed to a “transfer union,” which is Germany’s name for fiscal policy as it operates in any normal country.

Germany’s position is understandable, since Germans would give much more than they received in any such arrangement. But that doesn’t alter the conclusion: Not only is the EU structurally unsound, but there’s also little prospect that the structure either can be or will be repaired.

The hazards posed by discontented voters rebelling against deaf elites are already vividly apparent in Britain (the success of the Brexit campaign), in the rest of the EU (where far-right populist parties are gaining ground) and in the U.S. (Donald Trump). A European political union without strong popular backing might test Europe’s democracies to destruction. more>

Stephanie Pomboy: A Grim Outlook for the Economy, Stocks

By Leslie P. Norton – What ignited and supported the entire era of globalization was the spendthrift U.S. consumer; economies have been totally reliant on trade to U.S. consumers. This once-in-a-generation asset deflation will fundamentally change behavior, just as the Depression changed an entire generation’s attitude about spending and saving.

For 20 years the consumer has reliably borrowed from China to buy their tube socks. Post-crisis, the consumer has clearly pulled back.

What’s really causing this slowdown in spending is that the post-crisis consumer is determined to save, and do it the old-fashioned way. Historically, when rates go down, people save less.

But every Wall Street analyst and the Fed is using the pre-crisis analytical framework to look at an economy that is fundamentally challenged. more>