Weekly Selection 21 February 2020

Nouriel Roubini, The stock market is ignoring these ‘white swan’ events that could upend everything

(Market Watch, February 18, 2020)

The economist argues that financial crises tend to be the predictable result of built-up economic and financial vulnerabilities and policy mistakes, not the result of “black swan” events. In his opinion, financial markets remain in denial of the many predictable global crises that could come to a head this year. In addition to the increasingly obvious risks associated with climate change, he worries about four countries that want to destabilize the US from within (reads in 4-5 min).

Phillip Inman and Fiona Harvey, Global economic growth will take big hit due to loss of nature

(The Guardian, February 12, 2020)

According to a new study led by the WWF, the loss of nature will wipe GBP368bn a year off global economic growth by 2050 and the UK will be the third-worst hit, with a £16bn annual loss. One can always dispute the methodology underpinning these precise numbers, but the simple truth is this: the deterioration of natural habitats (forests, wetlands, coral reefs, etc.) will undermine the building blocks of essential ecosystems, reducing fish stocks, timber production and the number of pollinators (reads in 5-6 min).

James Crabtree, Coronavirus overreaction risks disrupting business far beyond China

(Nikkei Asian Review, February 11, 2020)

Most analysts still expect a V-Shaped economic recovery from the coronavirus, but as this article explains, it will dent China's growth, and the virus's international economic implications could be more far-reaching than many realize. The reason is global value chains: they’ve lately become less complex and more regional as China has moved upmarket. As a result, the world is more reliant than ever on exported Chinese products (reads in 4-5 min).

Samanth Subramanian, How Hindu supremacists are tearing India apart

(The Guardian, February 20, 2020)

This long read (about 15 min) depicts the current wave engulfing India and turning it into an authoritarian, Hindu nationalist state. As the author argues, for seven decades, the country has been held together by its constitution that promises equality to all. But Narendra Modi’s BJP is reshaping a nation where some people count as more Indian than others. The author’s conclusion: the BJP is preparing itself to be an iron-fisted authoritarian regime and is guiding India into an instability from which it may never recover.

Neel Burton, Boredom is but a window to a sunny day beyond the gloom

(AEON, February 14, 2020)

The Oxford professor who just authored “Heaven and Hell: The Psychology of Emotions” looks at the anatomy of boredom which he defines as an awareness of unmet arousal and an inverse function of perceived need or necessity. But boredom has also an upside: it is an agent of change and progress, a driver of ambition, shepherding us out into larger, greener pastures. Next time we are bored, let’s go along with it and let’s think of Samuel Johnson’s quote: “It is by studying little things that we attain the great art of having as little misery and as much happiness as possible” (reads in 5-6 min).