Wednesday, 26 March 2014


I don't have anything particularly insightful to add to the various articles that have discussed the giant tech wage fixing scandal.

For myself, I liked that piece by Pando and that one by Mother Jones.

But the reason I am writing is to notice the fact that, so far, almost no one on the right of the spectrum has had anything to say at all about this.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014


In the same vein as my previous blog-posts on Pr. Kimball's ideas (i.e. writing about authors I respect but disagree with), I would like to talk about Pr. Tyler Cowen's ideas, notably about his Great Stagnation thesis.

I will be concentrating on 'The Great Stagnation' rather than Pr. Cowen's more recent work 'Average is Over' for two reasons. First, because I actually read 'The Great Stagnation'. 

And, second, because I think 'Average is Over' is mostly right: If we do nothing, our future will probably look something like what Pr. Cowen is describing i.e. a world with a tiny wealthy elite and most of the rest scrambling for scraps. After all, this is already our world right now and it was our world for most of Humanity's history... My only criticism would be that this has nothing to do with technology per se and everything to do with how we organise ourselves...

But, if 'Average is Over' is simply projecting existing trends a bit further into the future, 'The Great Stagnation' is an attempt to explain how we got there in the first place and it is thus far more interesting.

It is also wrong.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014


I know that this blog is starting to look like "All-Ukraine-All-The-Time" but this is obviously something close to my heart. And I believe it is also quite important for the future of the EU and US relationship with Russia. Finally, living in Kiyv, I can hopefully bring a mixture of Western and Ukrainian outlook to the discussion.

So, as you probably heard, Russia has been sending troops officially unofficially into Crimea and reserve itself the right to do so anywhere in Ukraine, should it deem it necessary to protect Russian-speaking minorities.

The pretext is not new. Plenty of people made comparisons with Hitler and Sudetenland but, frankly, it is hard to find a European power who hasn't used that argument repeatedly into all kind of conflicts, from ancient history to very recently (French intervention in Mali, for example). Indeed, the Crimean war between Imperial Russia and the British, French and Ottoman alliance was justified on the Russian side by Tsar Nicolas Ist supposedly wanting to protect the Orthodox Christian minorities oppressed by the Ottoman Empire.

Monday, 24 February 2014


This will be a fairly unstructured post. Too many things to say and too much emotion.

70+ people died to give Ukraine this moment. Thousands more stayed on Maidan and hundreds fought on when they were gunned down by snipers in cold blood.

It is the collective duty of the Ukrainians to honour this courage by NOT wasting this opportunity. And it is the duty of their friends in the EU or elsewhere to help them, when we can.

The Ukrainian Parliament ought to vote a law giving the widows of those who fell at Maidan the same kind of pension awarded to the widows of soldiers. They died fighting the internal enemies of Ukraine. This is no less brave nor less deserving than fighting foreign enemies.

Saturday, 1 February 2014


Warning! This is not a short post... And it is also a long overdue post. Late last October, Pr. Kimball was kind enough to link on his own blog the article I had written about his general philosophy.

While Pr Kimball's tone was generally appreciative, he rightly pointed out that I had not really commented all that much on his proposed solution(s) to keep the provision of public goods high despite a lowering of taxes.

This is this criticism that I would like to address in this blog-post.

Sunday, 26 January 2014


This will be a short post. I haven't posted much lately but I've kept on reading some eco-blogs and my blood boiled when I saw an article on 'The Grumpy Economist' (John H. Cochrane's blog) where John first uses a straw-man and then proceeds to tearing it up so as to prove that liberals are just loonies.

I guess we are all guilty of simplifying our opponents' positions from time to time to better laugh at their ineptitude. But controlling for this bias is what makes for good productive debate. I don't expect it from politicians on a re-election trail... I do think it should be the standard for econo-blogging.

The first part of the article is pretty good and is underlying some of the reasons we might think that raising the minimum wage won't affect poverty rates too much. I pretty much agree with the specifics but, while I am not actually a big supporter of minimum wage, I also know that raising it can be done for reasons other than reducing poverty. It could be done to boost AD, for example...

But it's the second part, where John quotes John Goodman that really got me upset. To quote: 

"OK, if inequality in the US is the problem, what is the logical consequence? John notes we now tax wealthy people who want to leave but

...when a wealthy person expatriates, the distribution of income and wealth becomes more equal. Should we reverse course and encourage the John Templetons of this world to get out of town. If equality is a serious goal, we should at least relax the penalties.

At the other end of the income ladder, consider poor immigrants. Every time one comes to our shore, the distribution of income [within the US] becomes more unequal. But the same could be said if the immigrant is rich. Any immigrant who isn't earning close to the average income is going to make the distribution less equal as a result of his immigration. If equality is a serious goal, we definitely need a different immigration policy".

You know what would also reduce the degree of inequality within a given country? Killing all the very rich and all of the very poor. That would be the most efficient policy ever to get your inequality down. Since the liberals don't propose such a policy, they can't be very serious about inequality... QED.

Also, on a technical point, it's one of the problem with taking a measurement (level of inequality) and making it a goal.

But I am afraid such a subtle argument would be too much for John Cochrane... unless it was in support of his socially conservative prior, of course. In which case, he'd get it within a split second.

I got friends who are conservative and I got no problems with them. Because, unlike Cochrane, they are not intellectually dishonest.