- (1) Sociologist Arlie Hochschild has published an incredibly intriguing and insightful study of blue-collar, white America titled “Strangers in their Own Land.” Vox has two good interviews with Hochschild, one by Brad Plummer in text and one with Erza Klein in audio via his podcast. The deeply interesting insight of Hochschild is looking at her subject without normative judgement, and instead providing ethnographic survey of sorts of their beliefs as they are and to be understood irrespective of their external, objective validity. A key quote on white’s sense of injustice and a potential insight into the motivation of the Trumpian moment :
- “So the deep story I felt operating in Louisiana was this: Think of people waiting in a long line that stretches up a hill. And at the top of that is the American dream. And the people waiting in line felt like they’d worked extremely hard, sacrificed a lot, tried their best, and were waiting for something they deserved. And this line is increasingly not moving, or moving more slowly [i.e., as the economy stalls].
- Then they see people cutting ahead of them in line. Immigrants, blacks, women, refugees, public sector workers. And even an oil-drenched brown pelican getting priority. In their view, people are cutting ahead unfairly. And then in this narrative, there is Barack Obama, to the side, the line supervisor who seems to be waving these people (and the pelican) ahead. So the government seemed to be on the side of the people who were cutting in line and pushing the people in line back.”
- (2) Also from Vox and Ezra Klein, an extremely interesting podcast with Mike Needham, head of the Heritage Action, the c4 activist arm of the Heritage Foundation. The podcast provides interesting insight into the Trump phenomenon, as well as developments in politics and policy generally from a center-right perspective.
- (3) Foreign Policy Magazine has published an incredible inside look into the creation and early days of ISIS/The Islamic State/Daesh from an active, current insider of the group. The account is heavily vetted for credibility and the result of dozens of hours of intensive, deep-dive interviews. Part One considers the formation of the group and related split from al Qaeda, Part Two on seizing a chemical weapons stockpile, and Part Three considers the ISIS-al Qaeda split more deeply. Not only insightful but well written—a great read.
- (4) The Economist has ran a special report recently on large, multi-national firms. They look a global changes in these firms, the implication in the rise of these firms to innovation, and various public policy concerns. From the opening article of the series, the world’s largest firms in 2006 and 2016 charted below:
- (5) The Farnam Street Blog is one of my favorite on the web, particularly with respect to their focus behavorial economics and cognitive psychology, and more interestly, the implications to personal productivity and creativity. They recently published a great piece about putting great, insightful ideas to work in your life in a consistent, deep, and meaningful ways. Highly recommended. Additionally, they published a great list of books to improve ones understanding of the world and their own mind. One of those books, Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, is my current book-in-progress and I highly recommend it.
- (6) Two takes on globalization worth digesting. Dani Rodrik, one of the foremost experts among academic economics on globalization, offers a critical take of globalization, embracing it tepidly, but calling for moderation and a great responsiveness to democracy. Tyler Cowen calls for greater intranation trade within nations, drawing on the concept of globalization.
- (7) Scott Sumner has two technical posts on monetary policy worth reading by those who follow the subdiscipline. The first considers misidentification of monetary policy in academic macroeconomics, drawing on a recent paper by Paul Romer. The second post looks a misunderstanding in monetary policy he calls the “inflation or socialism” trade-off.
- (8) Via the Twitter feed @AClassicalLiberal, an interesting look at wealth and income inequality in the global economy coming from a Peterson Institute paper (shared here and here). Thanks to the formerly Nordic based (edit: now living state-side) @AClassicalLiberal for the share. Also, some of my own work on income inequality: “How We Should Think About Income Inequality.” See the charts below: