Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Potpourri Wednesday

Many interesting readings today.

Firstly, there is Ben Bernanke very timely speech on free trade and the dangers of protectionism. Mark Thoma from Economist’s View writes: I expect this will convert all you doubters into enthusiastic supporters of the free trade agenda. Insular Malaysian policymakers should take note too.

Embracing the Challenge of Free Trade: Competing and Prospering in a Global Economy
Remarks by Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, May 1, 2007

…I will argue that one possible response to the dislocations that may result from trade--a retreat into protectionism and isolationism--would be self-defeating and, in the long run, probably not even feasible. Instead, our continued prosperity depends on our embracing the many opportunities provided by trade, even as we provide a helping hand to individuals and communities that may have suffered adverse consequences.

If we resist protectionism and isolationism while working to increase the skills and adaptability of our labor force, the forces of globalization and trade will continue to make our economy stronger and our citizens more prosperous.

Then there is the latest Martin Wolf’s op-ed on Financial Times, particularly dedicated to the current Malaysian leadership who are squandering our economic opportunities, and for those defeatists who are allowing the former to do so.

Risks and rewards of the world economy’s golden era
By Martin Wolf, May 1 2007

Posterity will regard the economic performance we are now witnessing as a golden age. It will also know, although we do not, how long this era lasts. That will depend on decisions now taken. Such a period offers opportunities. Posterity will blame those who fail to seize them.

Golden periods such as these are rare and never last long. They must be exploited while they do. Posterity will condemn us if we let the chance of building a better world on today’s foundations pass by unheeded.

Of course, there is the Digg’s user revolt, providing a reflection of the power of the people. Mike Arrington from TechCrunch summed it up nicely:

Digg Surrenders to Mob
Michael Arrington, May 1 2007

…Just now, co-founder Kevin Rose posted yet again on the Digg blog, effectively capitulating to the mob’s demands: He says

But now, after seeing hundreds of stories and reading thousands of comments, you’ve made it clear. You’d rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company. We hear you, and effective immediately we won’t delete stories or comments containing the code and will deal with whatever the consequences might be.

If we lose, then what the hell, at least we died trying.

Until today, it seems, even Digg didn’t fully understand the power of its community to determine what is “news.” I think the community made their point crystal clear.

Vive La Revolution.

On lighter notes, there are David Leonhardt on behavioural economics and losing weight, …

Your Plate Is Bigger Than Your Stomach
By David Leonhardt, May 2, 2007

…We just have to decide which cues we are going to choose — the ones that lead to us eat more or the ones that lead us to eat less. The same goes for retirement savings, among many other things. Once we understand that, we can start using our mindlessness to our advantage.

… Kenneth Rogoff pretending to be Paul Wolfowitz, …

Top Secret! Memo From Paul Wolfowitz to Bank Staff
By Kenneth Rogoff, May 2007

… Let me fill you in on the facts of life. Ever since the World Bank was founded shortly after World War II, the President of the United States has always hand-picked the President of the World Bank. That’s life; stop whining. We Americans may hold only 16 percent of the shares at the World Bank, but we insist on keeping its presidency as our birthright. So what if there might be better qualified candidates from the developing world or Asia? I am tired of hearing people say that South African finance minister Trevor Manuel would be far more effective in my job than I am. (Trevor is a good guy, but dream on. He has neither the right passport nor the right friends.) …

and finally, an interesting addition to


(Emphases added)


elegant lily/Hui Hon Chung said...

you describe yourself as disillusioned....

but why? with what? if you don't mind me asking...

i'm pretty curious because most bloggers tend to paint a very pessimistic image of themselves. it's so masochistic

and i thought there is only one schopenhauer

Anonymous said...

well picked reads, elanor :)

I'm tennis and economics Rodricks fan :)

Anonymous said...

Because economics on theory is perfect lol ?


Anonymous said...

im guessing elanor tan works for bank negara malaysia......

Chewxy said...

A bit slow to come to that conclusion, no?

Anonymous said...

Hi Elanor,
You blog is very informative and mostly on track on policies issues. What we have in Silicon Valley is very close to the ideal. (I am a Malaysia residing in Silicon Valley). There are many places trying to copy the Silicon Valley Model, and what most decision makers do not understand is the mind set. They want the product of Silicon Valley and the benefits it brings, I am not sure they are willing to change the policy to make it work.
The main goal of the Malaysian system is in social engineering, not trying to bring out the best to compete effectively globally.
We live in the era of golden opportunity, technology and opening up of China and India creates a much bigger market place for a global winner, it can be done but you have to look beyond the limitations in Malaysia.
We should look at the opportunity and think of what we can do, what we have control over rather depend on the decision makers. You can ask for changes when you have something they need! I have seen it happen, eventhough not very often.


zewt said...

hey... not much update lately?

democratic junkie said...

could you shed a little light on the working culture(if there is one) at bank negara(if you are working there)?