A nice long-form piece from The Atlantic on the phenomenon and dangers of the New Plutocrats… not just Lloyd Blankfein and his parasitic bankster ilk, but nearly everyone who stands at the so-called Commanding Heights of industry, including productive innovators. The developed world was all to hot to globalize the economy when we thought we’d always stay on top. But that was ridiculous of course. Now “on top” is just a few people scattered all over, and most of us will slide toward the very large bottom if we’re not careful.
A good talk from Chautauqua on the interaction between markets and morals. Some interesting examples of morally ambiguous markets: countries paying one another to take on refugee acceptance obligations and the outsourcing pregnancy to impoverished surrogate mothers in Gujarat, India. Sandel argues that in the last few decades we have gone from having a market economy to being a market society. Markets are now a large portion of our governance, and it’s unclear whether this is really a good thing.
The Finite World – Krugman at the NY Times talking about the resurgence in global commodity prices over the last year. Economic recovery in developing economies driving the markets, with the US, and indeed the entire West, largely irrelevant. Not only are we a smaller than ever slice of the pie, we’re not the ones building cities for hundreds of millions of people from scratch. I’m not sure I really understand his conception of inflation though. If rising commodity prices don’t constitute the most basic, raw form of inflation (you get less physical stuff in exchange for the same amount of labor performed), then I’m not sure what does. Historically we’ve made the economic approximation that natural resources are infinite, and all you have to do is pay the cost of going out and getting them. If that changes, then things will get weird. Maybe even weird to the point of sensible!
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Continue reading Links for the week of February 26th, 2010