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O'Keefe & Frankenthaler, ever-growing Canada, coconuts on Zanzibar & "Silicon Saxony"
Happy Holidays from Chartbook Newsletter by Adam Tooze
Georgia O’Keeffe, Christmas card, 1917
Faced with big shocks what you need is not empirics but theory!
This conversation between Ricardo Rais and Tej Parik in the FT is very interesting.
On the side of policymakers, there should be some genuine introspection to see to what extent group think led to some choices or not. For academic economists, I worry there was an over-reliance on data as opposed to theory. If for 30 years inflation was 2 per cent with blips up and down, any empirical model is going to say that if you have inflation going up to 5 per cent, it is going to come down really quickly too. We had a lot of very bad shocks together with a few missed judgment calls on the part of central banks. At the same time, a theorist of monetary policy who is thinking about economic mechanisms saw a lot of red flags and worried that the 5 per cent would persist. Empirics is wonderful when we’re in a stable and steady regime; theory is what you need when you have big shocks and possible regime changes. …. Economics has made a giant leap forward in the last twenty years by using more and more micro data. However, in the past 18 months I saw too many people so obsessed with the data that they forgot about the theory of central banking and the ultimate fundamental determinants of inflation. Strong theoretical priors and principles should have kept all the big data and machine learning more disciplined than it did. The big forecast errors of “team transitory” 18 months ago seemed to come from putting too much emphasis on micro data and so mistaking the forest for the trees. … At the end of the day, policymakers are going to get different scenarios from their staff and they are going to pick one. And it turns out that I think they picked the wrong one a couple of times in a row, and that led to inflation getting so much out of hand. I don’t think this tells us the overall framework is flawed. And I am hopeful the success of the next twelve months bringing inflation down will prove that.
Canada’s annual population growth rate over the last year was a remarkable 2.3%. Every 43rd person living in Canada at the end of the year has only be living there for the last year! From July 1 to October 1 2022, the number of Canadians grew 362,453 to 39.3 million. That’s equivalent to 0.9% of the population in a single quarter. That is the fastest quarterly growth rate since 1957, when the country was in the midst of a baby boom and welcoming refugees fleeing the Hungarian revolution.
In Europe meanwhile, the World Value Survey reveals that …
… only 3.1 percent of Dutch people think it is a “duty towards society” to have people.
Source: Daily Shot
Extreme poverty in Latin America
Latin American social structure
The majority is no longer poor, but the notion of middle-class has to be stretched wide.
How a 42 gallon barrel of oil yields 45 gallons of petroleum products
A U.S. 42-gallon barrel of crude oil yields about 45 gallons of petroleum products in U.S. refineries because of refinery processing gain. This increase in volume is similar to what happens to popcorn when it is popped. A corn kernel is smaller and more dense than a popped kernel. The amount of individual products produced varies from month-to-month and year-to-year as refineries adjust production to meet market demand and to maximize profitability.
The East German region is Europe’s largest microelectronics / ICT cluster, or so it claims. If TSMC makes good on its intention of locating in Dresden that is a huge coup. Plus Intel is eying Magdeburg (Sachsen-Anhalt).
Die Gedanken sind frei
… someone on twitter reminded me of a favorite German song. An 1840s protest song against the Metternich regime, famously played in 1942 by Sophie Scholl to her father in a Nazi prison. This clip is on endless loop, but the voice is haunting and the rendition less bombastic than most you can find on youtube.
A century of dog breeds in the United States
Source: The Economist
Coconuts on Zanzibar - How urban sprawl is threatening the coconut crop in Zanzibar
A coconut going for 500 Tanzanian shillings ($0.20) a few years ago today sells for 1,500 shillings. From a great Economist xmas issue.
Cuetlaxochitl also known as Poinsetta
For instance, the poinsettia, a plant that has been associated with Christmas since the 16th century. Although it is now available in many hues, its traditional red and green foliage is widely used in Christmas floral decorations.
The shrub, known for its showy red bracts or modified leaves, is native to Mexico and was used by the Aztecs for dyeing their garments and as an anti-pyretic medicine.
How the cuetlaxochitl, meaning “flower that grows in residues” in the Aztec language, became the Christmas Eve flower of modern times as well as a top-selling potted plant is a story replete with patents, a market monopoly and a leaked trade secret that finally undermined one American family’s control of the business in the 1990s after a nearly 100-year run.
Latha Jishnu in Down To Earth
Helen Frankenthaler, New Years Card 1969
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