Globalization and the Global Economy

January 24, 2003

Problems with the Kyoto Treaty and Doubts about Global Warming

Over the last three years, the Buggy Prof --- though a card-carrying member in the Sierra Club, and a committed environmentalist --- has been left aghast at the extravagantly overwrought efforts of ultra-greens, including numerous scientists of a marked policy-partisan orientation, to ram the Kyoto Treaty into law in the industrial democracies . . . Russia, East Europe, and the developing countries like China and India exempt from any obligations themselves to reduce alleged greenhouse gas emissions, especially C02.

Like many moderates environmentalists, too, he finds the recent efforts of politically correct scientists of a witch-hunting caliber in Scandinavia, above all Denmark, to slander and stigmatize the impressive work of Bjorn Lomborg's THE SKEPTICAL ENVIRONMENTALIST . . . a remarkably systematic study sifting through wads of statistical materials in order to identify the nature of recent trends since WWII in environmental, demographic, and resource-laden controversies, in the process separating truth from exaggerated doom-doom fiction. Lomborg isn't the first to do this, Julian Simon in the US having . . .

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 3:27 AM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

March 2, 2003


Once again, the buggy prof is grateful to John, a former honors student at UCSB who has studied, worked, and lived in Europe for years and is a gifted linguist to boot. A graduate of one of the best law schools in the US, John practices law now, but retains a vigorous interest in European politics and US-European relations.


John's Comments First

Thanks for your reponse to my inquiry. I'd seen some discussion of these points in various sources, but the statistics were presented in summary without any clear explanation of their derivation, leaving the reader to parse through the possibilities. I think that the issue of Old Euope's economic prospects-- which as you point out is what we're really talking about here-- is essential to understanding what is driving anti-Americanism there. The widening gap in the economic growth potential of the US as compared to Europe's biggest economies is far more troubling to Europe than what America does as the sole superpower at the end of the Cold War.

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 4:12 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

March 9, 2003

The Dishonest and Strange Mental Worlds of French and German Diplomacy, and The Flight from Reality among the Post-Modernist Radical Avant-Garde

Some Background Theoretical Comments

Repeatedly, in our buggy commentaries, we've noted that the main issue pitting the French and German governments against those of the US and the UK --- plus 25 out of 28 members of NATO (which includes the 10 East European countries joining this year) --- is a far different reading of their fundamental national interests, especially security ones and the greatest threat to them.

No surprise. The diplomatic square-off over Iraq has only brought these tendencies to the surface, at work now ever since the end of the cold war and the massive shifts in the distribution of power --- economic, technological, military, and cultural --- that began a decade ago. The Iraqi controversy is itself, to put this more tangibly, the precipitant here of these open divisions, not the basic cause. Sooner or later, if the existing Iraqi controversy were to vanish overnight, the underlying security-laden, power-laden causes of the divisions within NATO and now engaging Russia would have flared

Why were these realigning forces inevitable?

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 3:39 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

September 23, 2003


On Brad DeLong's web site , DeLong --- a talented UC Berkeley economic historian who uses his historical work to illuminate contemporary economic trends, problems, and policies --- posted the following brief paragraph about Pacific Asia, China, and the West and their comparative economic futures, then invited responses. Always happy to offer his two-cents' worth on any topic --- well, almost any --- the buggy prof unfurled two lengthy sets of comments by way of reply . . . both generally critical of the claims in that DeLong paragraph. You'll find the first buggy set here: essentially, a lengthy critical answer in the negative to the two questions enshrined in the title of this article here.

First, The DeLong Post:

"The Asian Century"
Martin Wolf looks forward to the Asian Century: Home US (the Financial Times of London): "Asia's rise is the economic event of our age. Should it proceed as it has over the last few decades, it will bring the two centuries of global domination by Europe and, subsequently, its giant North American offshoot to an end. Japan was but the harbinger of an Asian future. The country has proved too small and inward-looking to transform the world. What follows it - China, above all - will prove neither... "


There seem to be two issues raised by the Martin Wolf argument . . . to the extent anyway that Brad DeLong's brief summary of it can be grasped. (Note the qualifier here: The Financial Times itself, alas, won't allow those who aren't paid subscribers to see it without payment.) One issue is what will happen to Pacific Asia --- presumably the region Wolf is referring to, rather than Central Asia or the Indian Sub-Continent or

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 5:5 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

January 24, 2004


The EU Commission --- 20 members currently, who are appointed for long terms by the 15 member-governments (Italy, Germany, France, and Britain get a second appointment and then there's the 20th, who is the President of the Commission) --- puts out unusually good comparative studies of the EU economies a couple of times each year, with the US the major foil, though Japan plays a role too. The most thorough and informative studies are the EU Competitiveness Reports, which appear annually in the fall. Recently, the Commission --- which of course has a huge statistical and economics bureaucracy (among others) --- published its annual report that assesses the progress of the EU countries in meeting their ambitious commitments undertaken at Lisbon, Portugal, in the late 1990s.

The main commitment? To overhaul their national economies in order for the EU itself, as an integrated regional economy, to overtake the US and become the world's most advanced and competitive economy in the world. The deadline for achieving this goal was set a decade into the future, 2010. The EU's just published report on the progress toward that goal --- or lack of it --- is nicely summarized in the EU-Observer



From the outset, the seemed an impossible goal. The recent report, just published, is summarized in the EU-Observer's own readable prose. It shows that the EU countries, far from closing the productivity, job, and technological gaps with the US, are falling behind . . . the crucial gaps with the US in technological progress, investment, productivity advances, and job-creation accentuating over time, not narrowing.

Nothing surprising really, except many for the EU media types and talkheads. Historically, the industrial revolution is now about 220 years old. For mor

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 1:22 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

May 31, 2004


So far, this lengthy series on the democratic prospects of the Arab countries --- viewed comparatively, especially with Turkey's laudable democratic development and better economic performance --- has concentrated mainly on political change and cultural matters, plus some references, now and then, to economic development. The last article in the series also widened the comparative focus. In a dozen different ways, it tried to show that the tumult, challenges, and violence that have accompanied radical political and economic changes in the Middle East and other developing regions --- prodded by the shockwaves of modernization and globalizing forces --- had also convulsed most of Europe from 1500 on as well . . . often with greater violence and high-coiled religious and ideological extremism.

Among other things, the earlier 11 articles in the series sought to clarify, theoretically, what constitutes democracy, distinguishing two main variants: the solid liberal sort, which is confined to about 30-35 countries, and the wider electoral kind that now encompasses dozens more. Some of these new electoral democracies may evolve over time into the liberal sort: that means instituting an effective rule of law, cutting down rampant corruption and nepotism, and spawning a vigorous civil society of voluntary associations . . . which includes cause groups galore and independent self-governing professions. An energetic and free media is also vital here. Several others of these electoral democracies might remain confined to electoral democracy, decades on end. Yet others might lapse again into authoritarianism, even of a brutal sort. It all depends.

What we have shown is that despite the big surge in the number of new electoral democracies --- dozens of them over the last two decades --- one area of the world remains stubbornly absent on the democratic roll-call: the 22 Arab countries. All are despotic; all are generally marked by a winner-take-all-polit

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 8:22 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

June 1, 2004


This is the 2nd in a 8-article mini-series on economic development --- the mini-series itself part of a wider series, weeks old now, on the democratic prospects of the Arab countries.

To follow the argument here, you need to have read the 1st article in the mini-series. The current article even starts with Part Three --- the first two parts, plus some introductory comments, set out in that initial article. A 3rd article will then summarize what we've learned about the conditions essential for sustained long-term economic development --- institutional, cultural, and policy-oriented --- in four sets of simple propositions, each carefully clarified. Since those four summary propositions continue the overall argument, that 3rd article will begin with Part Four.

And the 4th article? It will look at the way in which convergence catch-up growth favors developing countries compared to the growth rates of the rich leader countries . . . at any rate, if developing countries are able to implement the necessary institutional and policy changes that go along with successfully sustained long-term economic growth.

These terms need to be clarified --- obviously. So too does the specific thrust of the argument unfolded here, a continuation of the major points set out and analyzed in the first article. And hence some . . .


The Economic Advantages of Backwardness And Convergence Theory

The original work in this area, pioneered by a former professor of the buggy prof himself back in the 1950s and early 1960s--- Alexander Gerschenkron --- even explicitly used the term "the advantages of backwardness". See this link for a good review of Gerschenkron's key book. Gershenkron's thesis overlapped with a related theoretical a

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 5:45 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

June 2, 2004


This is the 3rd of a 8-article mini-series on economic development, the mini-series itself part of a much longer series that began at the end of April and deals with the democratic prospects of the Arab countries.

The argument in the first couple of articles on economic development, you might recall, unfolded in a trio of major divisions --- Part One, Part Two, and Part Three. The current article begins with Part Four. Naturally. And though you can follow the argument here pretty clearly without having read the first three parts, your grasp of its main points will be all the more sure-footed if you've worked your way through them.

More specifically, the current argument is something of a summary statement of what we've learned in the first two articles about economic development. It seeks to distill the necessary changes that any country's policymakers need to undertake --- institutional, cultural, and policy-oriented --- if they hope to launch their country onto a growth-path of out of poverty and sustain it over the long-term, for decades or even generations, narrowing the gap with the rich countries in the process. The summary will uncoil in a set of simple, straightforward theoretical propositions --- exactly four in all, each then clarified and illustrated with concrete examples. Grasp those four theoretical propositions and their implications, and you'll be well situated to make sense of why the world is divided into rich and poor countries, with fortunately several others rapidly growing and converging toward the levels of productivity and per capita income in the rich countries.

Keep in Mind Something

Observe that the convergence doesn't have to be complete. To be blunt, that outcome is unlikely for most countries in the world --- now or in the future.

Come to that, it's even true of the group of rich countries themselves. Despite their wealth and talents, none of the West Europeans or Japan has

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 6:8 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]