Links for the Week Ending 3 November

  • The relationship between technological progress on the one hand and economic growth and income inequality on the other has exploded as a topic of debate over the last couple of years. Here is Brad Delong speaking (with characteristic style) on the issue at the Berkeley Festival of Ideas. Delong quotes Larry Summers on how many men are becoming increasingly superfluous in the modern age:

“My friend and coauthor Larry Summers touched on this a year and a bit ago when he was here giving the Wildavsky lecture. He was talking about the extraordinary decline in American labor force participation even among prime-aged males–that a surprisingly large chunk of our male population is now in the position where there is nothing that people can think of for them to do that is useful enough to cover the costs of making sure that they actually do it correctly, and don’t break the stuff and subtract value when they are supposed to be adding to it.”

  • Summers’ April 2012 Wildavsky lecture entitled “Economic Possibilities for Our Children” is fascinating in itself and can be found here (Summer starts at 10 minutes into the video). And, for balance, take a look at Joel Moky’s more optimistic outlook here.
  • I’ve been very disappointed with the media reception to the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The climate change outlook has continued to darken since 2007 when AR4 was published, but this message has just not come through to the general public. As an example, here is Stefan Rahmstorf  on the Real Climate blog explaining how AR5’s sea level rise estimate is substantially more pessimistic than that in AR4. Does the general public know or care that their children and grandchildren will have to deal with a large rise in sea level: probably not.
  • At the centre of any bullish forecast of global oil production is the continued recovery in Iraqi oil output. For example, the last published International Energy Agency (IEA)’s World Energy Outlook sees Iraqi output rising from 3 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2012 to 6 million bpd in 2020. This is, of course, premised on the security situation remaining stable in Iraq. Unfortunately, 2013 has seen a marked deterioration. The blog Musings on Iraq provides a grisly table of deaths here. In this connection, The Brookings Institution‘s Iraq Index  publishes an authoritative source of statistics on Iraq’s security situation. The last release was in July 2013 and showed the beginnings of the uptick in bombings and attacks; I expect the next release to chronicle the continued deterioration in political stability.

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