Weekly Selection 22 May 2020

Christina Pazzanese, If it’s not over on the disease … it’s not over on the balance sheet

(The Harvard Gazette, 20 May 2020)

Carmen Reinhart, the Harvard professor who’s just been named chief economist at the World Bank explains why the COVID-born financial crisis will last until the health crisis is solved: “if it’s not over on the disease, it’s not over on the social distancing and the business closures, and therefore it’s not over on the balance sheet effects. That makes it a financial crisis until the core health problem gets resolved”. Some interesting snippets: the US outlook is going to be far more dire and last far longer than economists predict, and COVID-19 is the nail in the coffin of globalization (reads in 5-6 min.)

Niall Ferguson, US is a mess but China isn't the solution

(Nikkei Asian Review, 21 May 2020)

This is an interesting Covid-19 related interview with the famous historian. Two key takeaways: (1) “The real lesson here is not that the US is finished and China is going to be the dominant power of the 21st century. I think the reality is that all the superpowers -- the United States, the People's Republic of China and the European Union -- have been exposed as highly dysfunctional”; (2) “the real success stories are ... Taiwan, South Korea, Iceland and Israel (…). It shows that small is beautiful in a pandemic” (reads in 5-6 min).

Yascha Mounk, Prepare for the Roaring Twenties

(The Atlantic, 21 May 2020)

The academic argues that the pandemic will undoubtedly cause some important shifts, but that the sensationalist predictions that now dominate the world’s opinion pages are likely to be highly inaccurate. According to Mounk, the human desire to socialize will survive the pandemic. As the example of the roaring twenties shows, nothing can prevent people from enjoying an active social life - even, or perhaps especially, at bars, parties, and restaurants (reads in 7-8 min).

Ezra Klein, Why are liberals more afraid of the coronavirus than conservatives?

(Vox, 21 May 2020)

This is an article packed with interesting academic research – particularly from political psychology – on the reasons why in the US conservatives downplay the coronavirus, and liberals shelter in fear of it (this is counter-intuitive: research would have predicted the opposite). Three theories dominate. Read on! (It takes 7-8 min.).

James Panero, Like the Plague

(The New Criterion, June 2020)

This is a wonderfully erudite, pleasant, and interesting piece “on the art of illness in Venice”. The history of culture is a history of plague, and Venice epitomizes this: the Most Serene Republic has been defined by disease, often with illness as inspiration for its greatest works of art and architecture. A must-read for those who love Venice (8-9 min).