A Frothy China

Is it possible for a nation to rapidly modernize, joining the fully developed first world in just one generation?

The answer to that is clearly, “Yes,” but it comes with a lot of conditions and warnings. China, in its drive to be a great power and assume its rightful place in the world almost immediately, is paying attention to none of them.

That’s a harsh assessment, and it’s not quite correct. But there are far, far too many issues with the rapid rise of China that are not being dealt with appropriately. More importantly, given one quarter of the planet’s population, how this proceeds is going to affect everyone, everywhere.

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Geoeconomics

In a world connecting in new ways, it logically follows that some nations are working with great clarity and unity to make use of these connections for political goals. It is also reasonable that new tools for connecting the methods and message of these tools can be found to increase understanding and transparency for this process.

The book War by Other Means: Geoeconomics and Statecraft by Robert D. Blackwill is important for many reasons, primarily in how it describes how economics can be used to move forward the political goals of developing nations. It is, however, very dense and at times difficult to follow. It is also, as its title suggests, centered on the Industrial National model of a previous generation.

Thank goodness the most relevant parts of this have been brought forward in a fabulous youtube production that is less of a TED talk and more of a quick graduate class.

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Good Season(al Adjustment)

By the time you read this, the big news is likely to be jobs. It hasn’t been a hot topic since the election, and most of what was said during that strange period wasn’t exactly true. The big job gains for February, along with a large round-up for January, make it impossible to ignore.

The economy has definitely turned around.

It’s all over but the shouting, of which there will be a lot. There is little doubt that Republicans will claim credit for a big turnaround in 2017, which will be utter crap. This has been a long time in the making and things have not been actually bad for a long time. Nevermind. Positive news will feed on itself and everyone will be happier.

But there is one final twist to the very good news – it’s really in the adjustment.

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GDP Catches Up

GDP is 1%. That’s terrible. Our country is dying at 1% GDP.

Donald Trump, Third Debate

One of the great things about debating political points today is that anyone who actually knows what’s going on has no idea where to start. Trump was referring to the real (inflation adjusted) growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which was lagging at the start of the year. But with a new number for the third quarter of 2016 showing a net 3.2% growth you have to wonder – What is this guy talking about?

The short version is that it bounces around all over the place. The long answer takes a lot of graphs. Welcome to Barataria, land of the long answer. Prepare for some hand waving.

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Three Views of The Economy

When the summer livin’ is easy, I enjoy sitting out on the porch with a few tunes.  Today’s lazing soundtrack was “Three Views of a Secret” by Jaco Pastorius as I went over some old posts to see if anything needed revisiting.  And this piece from July 2011 popped out as a debate that is still raging – but with some resolution.  It seemed to fit the tension that always builds in a Jaco piece.

Economists, as noted before, have widely divergent views about the economic situation and what should be done about it.  But the experiments that have been running through various economies are teaching us all a little bit along the way as to who may be right.  It’s worth revisiting.

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Growth is … ?

“Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.”
– Kenneth Boulding

The figure for growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth for the second quarter came in, and it wasn’t bad – 2.3%, and the revision to the first quarter was a positive if sluggish 0.6%. Like so many economic figures it’s not great but it’s also not bad. We’re still muddling through this year hoping to make it through to better times ahead.

But will there be better times? The Federal Reserve accidentally posted on its website, briefly, some internal estimates from their own economists that show that where 2015 and 2016 won’t be too bad, with growth in the 2.3-2.4% range, it may taper off after that. But can we expect better? Should we, for that matter, expect more growth from the economy?

Or is one of the big changes in this new economy a much lower growth rate than we are used to?

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What is Software Worth?

When is the value of something not its true value? When you’re adding up Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of course. That may sound ridiculous, given that the rise and occasional fall of GDP is the yardstick by which we measure how we’re doin’ as an economy. Isn’t it just the sum total of all the goods and services that we produce?

The short answer is “no”, but the long answer is “yes”. It depends a lot on what you mean by “goods” or “service” or “produce”. If that sounds like a huge amount of fudge for something so important, you may want to just enjoy the chocolate induced coma for a bit. Because some goods, like computers and software, have been falling in price but increasing in potential and quality dramatically for a while. Hardware is “hedonically adjusted” to take care of this, but software isn’t. And that difference might be extremely important.

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