Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Links of Interest (12/15/2009)

Remembering Paul Samuelson

Paul Krugman reflects back on the life and career of the incomparable economist-- Paul Samuelson

Read Samuelson’s work, and what you get is the sense of a man who, rather than sitting down to write Very Serious Papers, was having fun with ideas. Sometimes the playfulness boiled over into inspired silliness. Look at footnote #9 in his overlapping-generations paper, where he writes: “Surely, no sentence beginning with the word ‘surely’ can validly contain a question mark at its end? However, one paradox is enough for one article …” It seems clear to me that Samuelson’s playfulness liberated his imagination, and fueled his creativity.

And yet Samuelson was at the same time always grounded in reality. No ivory-tower academic, he remained deeply interested in events and policy, played the markets, and never let his theories override his sense of the way things actually were.

Chris Blattman fleshes out his thoughts on aid and growth (exactly what I think is problem with the way economists look at the relationship between aid and growth. Building a coherent short-run and long-run model to show that aid can aid growth in the long-run is possible through this logic; I am eagerly waiting for Owen’s paper. His earlier blog post on the issue here)

So if aid has been good at saving lives now, but not (in the short term) at spurring industry, then we shouldn’t be surprised that we don’t see take-offs. Rather, in most countries aid might actually lower the short term, measured number.

But by almost any measure, though, aid would still be a huge success. Maybe the “failure of aid” is really a failure to industrialize, disguised.

IR theories behind Obama’s Nobel speech (well, its an art how to fit the views with the models)

Interpreting the Maoist’s vocabulary right (hypocrites, distorting, populist, self-interested and self-fulfilling!)

Nepal’s future in regional integration (Nepal gains more from regional integration with India and China. I had written a very similar piece on the same issues two weeks ago.)

Can data tell the determinants of economic growth?

Foreign banks allowed to enter Nepalese banking industry (initial capital requirement of US$ 30 million plus US$ 5 million for each branch)

The Doha Round is not breathing but is still alive