US elections: when in doubt, do nothing

America’s Democrats sighed with relief after Tuesday’s mid-term elections, even though they look likely to narrowly lose control of the House of Representatives, and perhaps even the Senate.

Because notwithstanding high levels of voter dissatisfaction, the widely-anticipated Republican wave petered out.

We should be impressed with the ability of diverse voters and voting regimes over a sprawling continent to deliver such finely nuanced results (including decisive victories for Trump Republican rivals such as Brian Kemp in Georgia and Ron DeSantis in Florida).

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Is the Bird free?

Well, Elon Musk certainly is.

The man is shaping as the Gordian knot cutter of the age. Or at the very least, the one able to set the most hares running.

This seems unlikely to get much credit from New Zealand’s authorities (read Thomas Cranmer on their differences).

But then not many people could – or would – take over a stagnant global media platform.  Then immediately fire its entire top team.  To be followed by the swift departure of half its workforce. Oh – and end home-working.

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Excellent writing on the New Right.  The Old might read 

An insightful mini-essay from Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen on how his “own preferred slant of classical liberalism is being replaced” by what – for want of an agreed term – he categorises as the New Right

At his level of intellectual discourse, this means “the smart young people I meet who in the 1980s might have become libertarians”.

Presumably they didn’t.  But nonetheless “the New Right doesn’t entirely reject the basic principles of free market economics”. (Is ‘entirely’ redundant here?) 

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Lessons galore from Bernanke’s Nobel prize

Nobel prize committees are responsible for briefly focusing the world’s attention on some pretty recondite stuff.  Sometimes with comic results.  But occasionally, they get it just right.

As the years rack up since 2008 global financial crisis, Ben Bernanke’s economics prize – resting in part on his work on the financial collapse of the Great Depression – looks righter and righter.

It was certainly the world’s good fortune (that or G. W. Bush’s foresight) that put the leading contemporary scholar of the monetary and banking disasters of the 1930s in the chair of the US central bank at the right time.

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Lucky Liz? Wait a few years to find out

Britain’s new PM, Liz Truss, might have caught a break last night.

The International Monetary Fund, after a longish period of complaisance in regard to fiscal stimulus, abruptly decided that the Truss economic plan was a good point to draw a line, in part because giving people their money back was seen as untargeted and might increase inequality.  

But in being so unusually prompt and decisive, it has missed a chance to wait and see which way the wind blows.

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Five paths for China – none of them look good

The what-will-happen-to-China’s-economy debate seems a bit stale these days.  

So thanks are due to Michael Pettis,  a professor of finance at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management, for coming up with one of the more plausible models of the Chinese economy.

His insight is in his analysis of the relationship between the private and state sectors.  And it seems a little more convincing than the far-seeing technocratic genius stuff so attractive to international bureaucrats and journalists.

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2022: Trump’s year?

A year on from the Capitol riot which celebrated Joe Biden’s victory in the US electoral college, a lot has changed.

Then again, perhaps not so much.

So if you are keen to understand why half of America doesn’t fully share the orthodox media position you might ponder the concept of “sophisticated state failure” in the words of Holman W. Jenkins Jr writing in the Wall Street Journal.

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South Korea as the global exemplar? Think about it

Self criticism is a Good Thing.  It’s usually kinder than the external version, and you get a chance to revise your argument.

So what to make of the mea culpa in the Financial Times from Jim O’Neill – the man self-credited with coining the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) acronym back in 2001.  Does he succeed in his mea recta?

Back then he argued that:

“since these countries were likely to continue their striking gross domestic product growth over the next decade, we urgently needed them to play a bigger role in global governance.”

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Trouble on the North West frontier

It was back in 1982, when then-President Ronald Reagan said “freedom and democracy will leave Marxism and Leninism on the ash heap of history”.

Remind me again when that stopped being policy.

Certainly, there was a case for soft-pedalling the rhetoric and crossing fingers when Deng Xiaoping’s China was obediently joining the world economy and making pacific agreements on Hong Kong.

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