Weekly Selection 08 November 2019

Steve LeVine, The Economist Who Wants to Ditch Math

(Medium, November 5, 2019)

We are proud to include this piece that is largely based on a series of encounters that took place at our last Summit of Minds in Chamonix. It tells us what narrative economics is all about and explains why emotions influence economic decisions in ways that are not mathematically grounded. What’s happening is this: after four decades of a religious-like fixation with mathematics, mainstream economists may learn that it is the gossip, whispers, half-baked philosophy and “news tips” passed from human to human since cave days that really drives economics (reads in about 10 min).

Ruchir Sharma, The Happy, Healthy Capitalists of Switzerland

The New York Times, November 2, 2019

This short article (reads in 5-6 min) explains how Switzerland delivers welfare benefits as comprehensive as Scandinavia’s but with lighter taxes, a smaller government, and a more open and stable economy. It is one of the richest nations in the world that also ranks as one of the world’s 10 happiest. The real lesson of Swiss success is this: the stark choice offered by many politicians between private enterprise and social welfare is a false one – Switzerland does both.

Bryan Caplan, Open Borders Are a Trillion-Dollar Idea

Foreign Policy, November 1, 2019

The case for open borders made simple and understandable! The economist explains in plain terms why tearing down all barriers to migration isn’t crazy, but rather an opportunity for a global boom. If the walls come down, almost everyone benefits because immigrants sell the new wealth they create—and the inhabitants of their new country are their top customers. By contrast, the central function of existing immigration laws is to prevent this wealth creation from happening - to trap human talent in low-productivity countries. It follows that resistance to immigration is primarily cultural and political, not economic or logistical (reads in 7-9 min).

Edward Ongweso, SoftBank’s Vision Fund Is a Graveyard of Broken Tech Startups

Vice, November 5, 2019

Having provided billions and billions to start-ups seen as potential unicorns, Softbank is the world’s biggest ‘unicorn-feed store’; but after the WeWork debacle the situation is changing: tech investors will now demand profits above all else. This passing of the unicorn age potentially leaves Masayoshi Son’s SoftBank Group in big trouble. This article looks at some other corpses in its cupboard: Uber and WeWork are the most well known disasters, but there are others (reads in 5-6 min).

Lizzie Cernik, Self-partnered: the sudden, surprising rise of the single positivity movement

The Guardian, November 6, 2019

This is a new trend largely led by women: more and more people are throwing off outdated stigmas and embracing a happy life on their own, calling it ‘self-partnered’. An increasing number of “single-positive” people are rejecting the notion that true love is the only path to happiness, and are starting to do things by themselves: they eat out alone, travel alone and sometimes embrace “sologamy”, the act of marrying oneself (reads in 6-8 min).