The Material Basis of Right-Wing Populism in 500 Words

Globalization and its Discontents: Explaining Brexit* (below) is a thing I wrote about Brexit for an essay contest in the Undergraduate Berkeley Economics Review. The essay  had to account for the economic factors that have driven the rise of right-wing populism*, a subject that kicked off this blog, in 500 words. The analysis turned out to be worth $50 in Amazon credit, so it may be worth your time.

Continue reading “The Material Basis of Right-Wing Populism in 500 Words”

Demonetization: Too Much Too Soon

Length Estimate: Long (words > 1000)

***

Sorry for the absence last week. I was derailed by an event of world-historical proportions – the American election results  the conclusion of my research on Indian land reforms and colonial peasant revolts. I actually wrote the following piece on the Great Indian Demonetization last Monday and sent it out to various online news outlets as a contribution. Due to the lack of response I have decided to post it below. A week has passed since this piece was written and many of the concerns that are outlined below have been vindicated in the meantime. The long-running tropes of administrative inadequacy and legislative myopia were baked into the demonetization cake and many commentators were similarly skeptical about its likely outcomes. Although I don’t want to ascribe more importance to this event than it deserves by making it the subject of an article, its resonance with the themes covered in this blog makes it fair game.

***

Continue reading “Demonetization: Too Much Too Soon”

Of States, Narco-Outfits and the Economist

Length Estimate: Long (words > 1000)

In its August 27th, 2016 issue, the Economist magazine ran articles on two prominent extralegal organizations that relied on the trade in narcotics for funding their organization. The organizations in question are Camorra, the Italian mafia outfit and subject of Robert Saviano’s book Gomorrah, and the FARC, a Colombian left-wing guerrilla army. The magazine’s treatment of these topics is a glaring example of the inconsistencies of its liberal, free market ideology.

Continue reading “Of States, Narco-Outfits and the Economist”

Hanjin There

Length Estimate: Medium (500 < words <  1000 )

Recently, the seventh largest shipping company in the world – Hanjin of South Korea – collapsed. The sources from which I get my news called it a Lehmann-esque event, referring to the collapse of American investment bank Lehmann Brothers in 2008 that prefaced the Great Recession. However, the issue has largely subsided after a brief spike of interest; if you hadn’t been keeping up with the news last week you would have missed that it happened altogether. There is, after all, a farce presidential campaign going on and anything not immediately relevant to it is relegated to second-class citizen status.

This state of events raises questions about the people who determine what we get to consume as news, but this is not relevant to this post. The internet has allowed for an explosion of information and we naturally tend towards easy to digest, curated sources from dubiously objective and somewhat reliable “news” organizations. But it has also lead to an abundance of independent blogs that cover material often considered news-unworthy by these organizations. So, there is at least the opportunity to self-select yourself into knowledge that is more relevant than the latest report on how this-or-that important person holds this-or-that shocking belief.

Anyway, I digress. The collapse of Hanjin is not only not a one-off event, but it is indicative of a larger global situation that has received little coverage in the mainstream news outside of a few heterodox opinion columns.

Continue reading “Hanjin There”

Marketworld

Length Estimate: Short (words < 500)

Uber Slammed for Surge Prices After New York City Bombing

So Uber users attempting to return home after the Chelsea bombing in New York were faced by surge pricing.

Surge pricing is how Uber incentivizes drivers to meet an excess of demand for rides. The stakes were even higher here, of course, since why would drivers head into a potentially dangerous area to pick up passengers? Altruism doesn’t pay. Perhaps there should have been an Uber for 9/11 first responders, so that people who they rescued could be charged for the cost of their future cancer treatment first. If that’s the way we incentivize altruism (if it is still altruism), then let’s apply it as much as possible.

Continue reading “Marketworld”