If the Asian Growth Model is not Working Anymore

In 1981 poverty rate in China was 64% of the population, in 2004 the rate was 10%: it means that 500 million people stepped out of poverty (look here and here). China and South-East Asia economies were propelled by export demand and by someone else’s debt. What now? In the words of FT columnist Michael Pettis

The assumption that implicitly underlay the Asian development model – that US households had an infinite ability to borrow and spend – has been shown to be false. This spells the end of this model as an engine of growth.

It seams like bad news for economists pointing at free trade and export-led growth as a practical receipt for development.  It seams like bad news for everybody. People in developing countries need to increase their income, and it is difficult to think how they could find the money in their neighborhoods.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Economic Gains Do Not Mean Political Gains

In this post Dani Rodrik explains why trade theories suggest that the U.S. should liberalize trade for agricultural products (especially cotton and sugar) and abolish visa restrictions on on highly-skilled foreign workers. This will produce gains for the U.S. society as a whole and probably for the poorest part of the world population, that happens to be made up of farmers. (Of course India will probably see some of its engineers flee the country, but that is not exactly a win-win game).

But countries are not ruled by trade theories. Usually they are ruled by people seeking to keep power as long as possible. And sometimes people rely on minority groups within their society to keep themselves in power.  Have a look at this paper, “The Diminishing Effect of Democracy in Diverse Societies” by Gilat Levy and Oriana Bandiera (London School of Economics and Political Science). Indeed, this can explain why western Europe heavily defends its farmers (4-5% of the population) sacrificing the common good.

An interesting theory should consider not how much a single group benefit or not from trade liberalization but how much influence the group affected by the new policy has on the decision making process. A reduction of trade barriers can help to tackle chronic poverty (have a look at the “Industrial Development Report” by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization). But barriers are not where they are because governments think they are irrational from a political (not economic) point of view.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

The Dirt Floats

The Kosovo Liberation Army (Albanian acronym UÇK) supposedly run, during the conflict of 1999, torture camps in northern Albania. According to an investigation conducted by Altin Raxhimi, Michael Montgomery and Vladimir Karaj and published (here) by the Balkan Investigative Journalism Network at least 18 people were killed in one of those, a factory compound in Kukës, Albania. Eyewitnesses say prisoner were mainly alleged Kosovo Albanian collaborationist. But as well Serbs and Roma were held in the camp.  And women.

Kosovo’s Prime Minister, Hashim Thaçi, who was then the political director of the KLA, and Agim Çeku, former Prime Minister and former chief of the KLA headquarters, told the BBC they were not aware of any KLA prisons where captives were abused or where civilians were held.

The same sources that witnessed the base in Kukës, told us that the interrogators in Kukës were KLA officers who had been involved in the capture of suspected collaborators.
Both our sources concerning the base, identified several KLA officers involved in the abuses at
Kukës.
One of them is currently in a top position in the judicial system in Kosovo.

After ten years, the history of the ex-Yugoslavia conflicts (so far mainly written by journalists) is still incomplete. Because the people who fought those wars are now ruling that very same land (nationalism is still an effective language to speak). And because the Balkans are the very same mirror and unconscious of Europe (Rada Iveković, 1999). The 1990s wars tell Europe where its own states are coming from: murders and  deportations. And Dorian does not like portraits.

Monday, 11 May 2009

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RSS r-bloggers.com

  • Handling & Sharing PCAPs Like a Boss with PacketTotal
    The fine folks over at @PacketTotal bequeathed an API token on me so I cranked out an R package for it to enable more dynamic investigations work (RStudio makes for an amazing incident responder investigations console given that you can script in multiple languages, code in C[++], and write documentation all at the same time... […]
  • Code and Data in a large Machine Learning project
    We did a large machine learning project at work recently. It involved two data scientists, two backend engineers and a data engineer, all working on-and-off on the R code during the project. The project had many interesting and new aspects to me, among them are doing data science in an agilish way, how to keep […]
  • RQuantLib 0.4.8: Small updates
    A new version 0.4.8 of RQuantLib reached CRAN and Debian. This release was triggered by a CRAN request for an update to the configure.ac script which was easy enough (and which, as it happens, did not result in changes in the configure script produce...
  • Rcpp 1.0.1: Updates
    Following up on the 10th anniversary and the 1.0.0. release, we excited to share the news of the first update release 1.0.1 of Rcpp. package turned ten on Monday—and we used to opportunity to mark the current version as 1.0.0! It arrived at CRAN ov...
  • wrapr::let()
    I would like to once again recommend our readers to our note on wrapr::let(), an R function that can help you eliminate many problematic NSE (non-standard evaluation) interfaces (and their associate problems) from your R programming tasks. The idea is to imitate the following lambda-calculus idea: let x be y in z := ( λ […]

RSS Simply Statistics

  • 10 things R can do that might surprise you
    Over the last few weeks I’ve had a couple of interactions with folks from the computer science world who were pretty disparaging of the R programming language. A lot of the critism focused on perceived limitations of R to statistical analysis. It’s true, R does have a hugely comprehensive list of analysis packages on CRAN, […]
  • Open letter to journal editors: dynamite plots must die
    Statisticians have been pointing out the problem with dynamite plots, also known as bar and line graphs, for years. Karl Broman lists them as one of the top ten worst graphs. The problem has even been documented in the peer reviewed literature. For example, this British Journal of Pharmacology paper titled Show the data, don’t […]
  • Interview with Stephanie Hicks
    Editor’s note: For a while we ran an interview series for statisticians and data scientists, but things have gotten a little hectic around here so we’ve dropped the ball! But we are re-introducing the series, starting with Stephanie Hicks. If you have recommendations of a (junior) person in academics or industry you would like to […]

RSS Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science