Weekly Selection 30 August 2019

Ruchir Sharma, Our Irrational Anxiety About ‘Slow’ Growth

(The New York Times, August 17, 2019)

The economist / columnist argues that the problem with the global economy goes much deeper than Trump or tariffs. In a nutshell, he affirms that the postwar miracle is over and that the slowdown is driven by forces beyond any government’s control. Since the financial crisis of 2008, the world economy has been struggling against four headwinds: de-globalization of trade, depopulation as labor forces shrink, declining productivity and a debt burden as high now as it was right before the crisis (reads in 6-8 min).

Yascha Mounk, The Dictators’ Last Stand

(Foreign Affairs, September/October 2019)

So far, it’s been a good decade for dictatorship and a terrible decade for democracy, but the author of “The People vs. Democracy” argues that the new autocrats are weaker than they look. In his opinion, the new orthodoxy that autocratic regimes have permanently solved the challenge of sustaining their legitimacy is wrong. He explains why the next decade may turn out to be surprisingly tough on autocrats, as populist dictatorships suffer from a sudden loss of legitimacy. A subtle and interesting argument that reads in about 12-15 min.

David Wallace-Wells, The Glimmer of a Climate New World Order

(New York Magazine, August 26, 2019)

The G-7 bullying of Brazil (Macron’s threat to spike a major European trade deal with it if Bolsonaro did not take the fires seriously) marks an unprecedented use of the same tools of leverage and sanction and shame to crimes of climate as have been applied, in the past, to violations of human rights and territorial sovereignty. This article is a first step to think through the political science around climate change. Rich and dense – a great read (15 min+).

Richard Seymour, The machine always wins: what drives our addiction to social media

(The Guardian, August 23, 2019)

Social media was supposed to liberate us, but for many people it has proved addictive, punishing and toxic. This edited extract of “The Twittering Machine” – a new book that explores the way in which social media keeps us hooked – explains why. A 15 min+ easy read but heavy with academic and scientific references. Put simply: “whether or not we think we are addicted, the machine treats us as addicts”.

Julia Olayanju, Food As Medicine: Understanding The Importance Of Food To Gut Health

(Forbes, August 21, 2019)

Gut health is emerging as a new lifestyle approach that will drive change in the food and beverage industry. This short read (about 5 min) compiles some testimonies and recent scientific evidence showing the role of food in management of gut microbiome and overall health.