PROJECT SYNDICATE: Is þe US Economy Recovering or Overheating?

BRIEFLY NOTED: For 2021-05-05 We

Things that went whizzing by that I want to remember... <>




Ian Leslie: Biden's Bet: ‘Biden... is... hinting at... “I think they’re going to write about this point in history… about whether or not democracy can function in the 21st century. Not a joke. Whether autocracy is the answe—these were my debates I’d have in the many times I met with Xi.”... Biden believes that technology and science are moving so fast that they pose an existential challenge to democracy itself. The consensus used to be that if China wanted to catch with the West it would have to democratise—become more free, and more diverse, with power less centralised. But Xi has doubled down on autocracy and centralisation, partly by deploying new technologies. China is still growing. For Biden, it’s up to America to show the rest of the world that democracy is still the best platform… 

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Paul McLeary (2007): Is Perry Bacon Serious?: ‘Perry Bacon Jr. wrote what may be the single worst campaign ‘08 piece to appear in any American newspaper so far this election cycle. In the front-page piece, Bacon muses over how the chances of Barack Obama getting elected president might be affected by the fact that he’s not Muslim. Seriously. To build his case, Bacon stumbles artlessly through all manner of rumor, innuendo, and xenophobic smear—never bothering to refute any of it, even though there is plenty of well-documented evidence to knock down much of this stuff. Bacon kicks the whole sorry mess off with the unsubstantiated statement that: “In his speeches and often on the Internet, the part of Sen. Barack Obama’s biography that gets the most attention is not his race but his connections to the Muslim world.” Who, exactly, gives this the most attention?… This habit of reporters—perpetuating untruths by writing stories about the “phenomenon” of those untruths—drives us nuts. Was LexisNexis broken in the scant few minutes it must have taken him to write this story? If so, Bacon must have taken to Internet message boards to troll for xenophobic posts…. Bacon then wraps up by tossing in a quote from an Obama adviser telling us that all’s fine, there’s nothing to worry about. Oh, well, with that tidbit at the end Bacon achieved the all-important Balance, so all’s well in newspaper-land.

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Iskander RehmanMetus Hostilis: Sallust, American Grand Strategy, & the Disciplining Effects of Peer Competition with China=: ‘Sallust’s theory remains starkly unforgiving, almost uncomfortably so, for a modern reader. As political scientist Daniel Kapust notes, this creates a dilemma whereby “the coherence of a community may become linked to the existence of a dangerous foreign enemy.” Healthy democracies should be able to guarantee the conditions of their own success without fear of a great-power competitor, and no sensible individual would argue in favor of cultivating foreign enmity for its own sake. And yet, Sallust’s grim insights, however unsettling, may hold some truth…. An unwelcome new strategic dispensation… may paradoxically provide a clarifying and restorative sense of purpose to a deeply fractious American democracy…. Intense domestic polarization has rendered U.S. foreign policy more volatile, unpredictable and—in the eyes of international observers—unreliable…

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Adam OzimekFuture Workforce: ‘Companies continue to be remote: Nine months into the pandemic, 41.8 percent of the American workforce remains fully remote. Companies say remote work is getting easier, not harder, as time goes on: 68 percent of hiring managers say remote work is going more smoothly now than when their company first made the shift to at the start of the pandemic. Remote work will continue through 2021: Managers believe that 26.7 percent of the workforce will be fully remote in one year suggesting that individuals will gradually continue to return to the office, but a significant share will remain remote in the near future.  The number of remote workers in the next five years is expected to be nearly double what it was before COVID–19: By 2025, 36.2 million Americans will be remote, an increase of 16.8 million people from pre-pandemic rates. Increased productivity and flexibility continue to be key benefits of remote work: Hiring managers cite reduction of non-essential meetings, increased schedule flexibility, and no commute as aspects of remote work that have worked better than expected…

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Nancy QianThe Two Sides of Chinese GDP: ‘In 2019… China’s per capita GDP in 2019 was $8,242, placing the country between Montenegro ($8,591) and Botswana ($8,093). Its per capita GDP in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms—with income adjusted to take account of the cost of living—was $16,804… between Suriname ($17,256) and Bosnia and Herzegovina ($16,289)…. GDP per capita in PPP terms in the US and the European Union is $65,298 and $47,828, respectively…. China’s current level of income inequality… is similar to that found in the US and India…. 600 million people have… an annual income of $1,860…. The Chinese government… will be preoccupied for at least another generation by the need to increase domestic incomes. But… governments can also bolster their popular support in ways that do not foster economic growth… defending… against… earthquakes or the COVID–19 pandemic… territorial disputes in the South China Sea and along the Chinese-Indian border…. The backlash effect…. Many Chinese think the West is seeking to reassert political dominance and feel painful reminders of colonialism and World War II…. Behind the world’s second-highest GDP are hundreds of millions of people who just want to stop being poor…

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Jeet HeerCan We Bring Back Blogging?: ‘The golden age of blogging was… a digital party, where bouncing around through hyperlinks was always bringing in new writers and new perspectives… fresh voices and also of changing minds…. The blogosphere opened up debate, especially in the 21st century revival of feminist, anti-racist, and socialist politics…. There were a lot of factors that led to the decline of blogging… ads… Google and Facebook ate up that revenue. Social media like Twitter and Facebook also provided a new way to micro-blog…. I’m still finding my sea legs as a Substacker. I want to know what works and what doesn’t…

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