Weekly Selection 20 September 2019

Satyajit Das, Can Banks Survive Negative Rates?

(Bloomberg, September 13, 2019)

The former banker turned author explains why the spread of unconventional monetary policies threatens to set off dangerous and unpredictable feedback loops in credit markets and the real economy, where the second and third-order effects are difficult to anticipate or control. The argument is a bit technical, but offered in palatable terms. In short: Instead of stimulating the economy, negative rates increase uncertainty about the future; therefore households, worried about saving for retirement and other goals, spend less (reads in about 5 min).

Kevin Rudd, To Deal, or Not to Deal: The U.S.-China Trade War Enters the End-Game

(Asia Society Policy Institute, September 9, 2019)

The former Australian Prime Minister, one of the most astute and knowledgeable analysts of China, thinks that “on balance, despite all the political noise, the evidence still points in the direction of a negotiated deal to be done before the end of the year”. This speech he gave at the American Chamber of Commerce in Beijing explains the nature of his contrarian conviction. He concedes that he doesn’t know how comprehensive or permanent any such bilateral agreement might prove to be (reads in more than 15 min).

David Wallace-Wells, It’s Greta’s World

(New York Magazine, September 17, 2019)

This is the story of the extraordinary rise of the 16-year-old, and “her Hail Mary climate movement”. She is now the face of climate mobilization - commanding a global army of teenage activists numbering in the millions and waging a rhetorical war against her elders through the unapologetic use of generational shame. A great read to get a sense of how the movement of climate mobilization might evolve. Older generations ignore it at their peril (reads in 15-20 min).

Sophia Ignatidou, The weaponisation of information is mutating at alarming speed

(The Guardian, August 19, 2019)

The researcher makes the case that communication is increasingly been weaponized, used to provoke, mislead and influence the public in numerous insidious ways. The next stage in the weaponisation of information is the increasing effort to control information flows and therefore public opinion. The third stage: “we may soon be dealing not just with disinformation or communications blackouts, but with mass-scale surreptitious manipulation through nudging” (reads in 5-6 min).

Robert Roy-Britt, Time Can Make You Happier Than Money

(Elemental, September 18, 2019)

A new study brings one further contribution to the time-money trade-off and how it contributes to happiness. The fact that time matters more than money seems to be true for all ages and stages — even for recent college graduates: people who value time over money tend to be happier. The reason: “People who value time make decisions based on meaning versus money. They choose to do things because they want to, not because they have to” (reads in about 5 min).