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Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

How Technology Will Revolutionize Public Trust

Posted by hkarner - 19. Oktober 2019

Date: 18-10-2019
Source: The Wall Street Journal By M. Todd Henderson

Though Americans increasingly distrust their institutions, digital platforms are spurring them to rely on one another like never before

Trust in major institutions seems to be collapsing in America in the era of “fake news,” Russian bots on Facebook and tribal politics. A recent Pew Research Center poll found that about seven in 10 Americans say that trust in society—in government, in each other—is declining. And more than four in 10 Americans think that declining trust is “a very big problem.”

The stakes are high. Research shows a strong correlation between trust and the wealth of a society. Trust enables cooperation, cooperation enables specialization, and specialization drives productivity.

Fortunately, indicators of declining trust miss a deeper reality: While Americans may increasingly distrust many of their institutions, technology is enabling certain kinds of trust at levels seldom before seen in human history. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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How stories can help explain booms and busts

Posted by hkarner - 16. Oktober 2019

Date: 15-10-2019
Source: The Economist

Once a narrative takes hold, it can drive markets

Everyone knows, or thinks they know, the story of the Wall Street shoeshine boy. In 1929 Joseph Kennedy, patriarch of the Boston-Irish political clan, had an epiphany while his shoes were being cleaned. When the boy who shined his shoes offered him stock tips, he realised the stockmarket was about to implode. Kennedy promptly sold all his shares and took a short position, betting that the market would fall. When it crashed that October he made a killing.

In his new book, “Narrative Economics”, Robert Shiller, a Nobel laureate, offers this tale as an example of a contagious narrative that becomes part of folk wisdom. A story need not be accurate to spread. Mr Shiller searched archives of newspapers from the period, and could find no record of it. But he did find a similar kind of story in the Minneapolis Morning Tribune. The stockmarket, it said, could not yet have peaked because “we do not hear of the chamber maids and bootblacks who have cleaned up fortunes by lucky plays.” That story was published in 1915. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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The Lesson I Learned from Steve Jobs

Posted by hkarner - 13. Oktober 2019

Date: 12-10-2019
Source: The Wall Street Journal By Marc Benioff

A challenge from technology’s greatest showman led Marc Benioff to a breakthrough insight about how to find true innovation at Salesforce.com.

Long before Marc Benioff became CEO of Salesforce.com, one of the first companies to deliver enterprise software to customers as a subscription over the internet, he was a summer intern at Apple in 1984. That’s where he met Steve Jobs.

I first met Steve Jobs in 1984 when Apple Inc. hired me as a summer intern. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells review – our terrifying future

Posted by hkarner - 30. September 2019

Date: 29-09-2019
Source: The Guardian by Mark O’Connell

Enough to induce a panic attack … a brutal portrait of climate change and our future lives on Earth. But we have the tools to avoid it

You already know it’s bad. You already know the weather has gone weird, the ice caps are melting, the insects are disappearing from the Earth. You already know that your children, and your children’s children, if they are reckless or brave enough to reproduce, face a vista of rising seas, vanishing coastal cities, storms, wildfires, biblical floods. As someone who reads the news and is sensitive to the general mood of the times, you have a general sense of what we’re looking at. But do you truly understand the scale of the tribulations we face? David Wallace-Wells, author of the distressingly titled The Uninhabitable Earth, is here to tell you that you do not. “It is,” as he puts it in the book’s first line, “worse, much worse, than you think.”

The book expands on a viral article, also titled The Uninhabitable Earth, which Wallace-Wells published in New York in the summer of 2017, and which frightened the life out of everyone who read it. Writing at length, he is even more remorseless in his delineation of what the not nearly distant enough future probably holds for us. The book’s longest section, entitled Elements of Chaos, is composed of 12 short and brutal chapters, each of which foretells a specific dimension of our forecast doom, and whose titles alone – Heat Death; Dying Oceans; Unbreathable Air; Plagues of Warming – are enough to induce an honest-to-God panic attack. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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David Cameron’s alternative memoirs

Posted by hkarner - 20. September 2019

Date: 19-09-2019
Source: The Economist Bagehot

This week the former prime minister published his memoirs. Here we print an extract from the book he might have written had he won the referendum

A friend once asked Margaret Thatcher what she would do differently if she had her time again. After a pause for thought, she replied: “I think I did pretty well the first time.” I don’t feel quite the same way. I was wrong to withdraw Conservative meps from the European Parliament’s centre-right alliance. I was wrong to surround myself with so many chums from school and university. On reflection the “Big Society” contained too much hot air. But I do pride myself on one thing: I left behind a country that was far more at ease with itself than the one I inherited.

The reason for this was the defining act of my career, the Brexit referendum of 2016. After the result was announced, the pundit class assured me with one voice that I didn’t deserve any credit for doing the blindingly obvious. “Mr Cameron was confronted with an open goal,” the Times editorialised. “All he did was kick the ball.” These were often the same people who, before the vote, had informed me that I risked unleashing monsters. I can only say that the referendum didn’t feel like an open goal at the time. The campaign tore the country apart and strained some of my closest friendships. And the result was worryingly close. I sometimes torment myself, in my more masochistic moments, by imagining what might have happened had it gone the other way! Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Naomi Klein: ‚We are seeing the beginnings of the era of climate barbarism‘

Posted by hkarner - 14. September 2019

Date: 14-09-2019
Source: The Guardian Natalie Hanman

The No Logo author talks about solutions to the climate crisis, Greta Thunberg, birth strikes and how she finds hope

Naomi Klein: ‘We are going to have to contract on the endless, disposable consumption.’

Why are you publishing this book now?

I still feel that the way that we talk about climate change is too compartmentalised, too siloed from the other crises we face. A really strong theme running through the book is the links between it and the crisis of rising white supremacy, the various forms of nationalism and the fact that so many people are being forced from their homelands, and the war that is waged on our attention spans. These are intersecting and interconnecting crises and so the solutions have to be as well.

The book collects essays from the last decade, have you changed your mind about anything? Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Demographic Decline and the End of Capitalism as We Know It

Posted by hkarner - 19. August 2019

Date: 16-08-2019
Source: Foreign Affairs By Zachary Karabell
Subject: The Population Bust

For most of human history, the world’s population grew so slowly that for most people alive, it would have felt static. Between the year 1 and 1700, the human population went from about 200 million to about 600 million; by 1800, it had barely hit one billion. Then, the population exploded, first in the United Kingdom and the United States, next in much of the rest of Europe, and eventually in Asia. By the late 1920s, it had hit two billion. It reached three billion around 1960 and then four billion around 1975. It has nearly doubled since then. There are now some 7.6 billion people living on the planet.

Just as much of the world has come to see rapid population growth as normal and expected, the trends are shifting again, this time into reverse. Most parts of the world are witnessing sharp and sudden contractions in either birthrates or absolute population. The only thing preventing the population in many countries from shrinking more quickly is that death rates are also falling, because people everywhere are living longer. These oscillations are not easy for any society to manage. “Rapid population acceleration and deceleration send shockwaves around the world wherever they occur and have shaped history in ways that are rarely appreciated,” the demographer Paul Morland writes in The Human Tide, his new history of demographics. Morland does not quite believe that “demography is destiny,” as the old adage mistakenly attributed to the French philosopher Auguste Comte would have it. Nor do Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson, the authors of Empty Planet, a new book on the rapidly shifting demographics of the twenty-first century. But demographics are clearly part of destiny. If their role first in the rise of the West and now in the rise of the rest has been underappreciated, the potential consequences of plateauing and then shrinking populations in the decades ahead are almost wholly ignored.

The mismatch between expectations of a rapidly growing global population (and all the attendant effects on climate, capitalism, and geopolitics) and the reality of both slowing growth rates and absolute contraction is so great that it will pose a considerable threat in the decades ahead. Governments worldwide have evolved to meet the challenge of managing more people, not fewer and not older. Capitalism as a system is particularly vulnerable to a world of less population expansion; a significant portion of the economic growth that has driven capitalism over the past several centuries may have been simply a derivative of more people and younger people consuming more stuff. If the world ahead has fewer people, will there be any real economic growth? We are not only unprepared to answer that question; we are not even starting to ask it. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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The Human Tide’ Review: The Power of Numbers

Posted by hkarner - 2. August 2019

Date: 01-08-2019
Source: The Wall Street Journal By Jason Willick

The growth and decline of national populations can shape world events as dramatically as ideology or economics or political leadership.

Visiting an Israeli settlement in the West Bank this year, I was struck by the residents’ confidence that the territory could soon be integrated into the Jewish state. They see the number of Jewish Israelis growing rapidly—the village was brimming with children—and Europe’s Jews flocking to Israel. There are also, one man insisted, not as many Palestinians in the West Bank as official data suggests. Before long, Israel could annex biblical Judea and Samaria, make all residents full citizens, and retain a Jewish majority.

This view is probably unrealistic, yet it reflects a harsh truth: Numbers matter in politics and have a history of unsettling the expected course of events. In “The Human Tide” Paul Morland, a research fellow at the University of London, uses a series of historical examples to argue that the most powerful force shaping the modern world has been not ideology or economics or great men but demography—the growth and decline of national populations. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Boris Johnson is about to inherit a crisis his EU-bashing helped spawn

Posted by hkarner - 16. Juli 2019

Date: 15-07-2019
Source: The Guardian by Sonia Purnell

This bizarre and troubled man’s shameless inventions about Europe two decades ago have paved his way to No 10

It was not just the persistently overcast skies – a weather pattern once dubbed the “Brabant gloom” by Roy Jenkins, a former European commission president – that made working in Brussels for the Daily Telegraph in the early 1990s a joyless experience. It was my role as deputy to Boris Johnson, then “bureau chief” in name but solo performer in practice, that ensured my first job as a foreign correspondent was a trial of endurance.

There were just the two of us in the Telegraph office, and we were working long hard hours reporting on the political and economic convulsions of the Maastricht treaty negotiations. The story itself, of negotiations that played out in meeting rooms of Brussels, was full of political intrigue and drama. And whatever happened was likely to shape Europe for years to come.

How Johnson wrote about it, though, not only alarmed me at the time but helped set in stone a pervasive anti-European narrative that never really encountered serious challenge in the UK. For shamelessly painting the European commission as an insanely grandiose and imperialist body, he was rewarded by flurries of “herograms” from our editor, Max Hastings, including one that read “we all think you’re doing a wonderful job if only you’d learn to be a little more pompous”. Johnson’s trajectory to the gates of Downing Street had begun.

Over the months and years, those inventive stories, of fishermen forced to wear hairnets or snails reclassified as fish, created a deeply rooted belief that anything out of Brussels must be either loony or the result of a sinister continental plot. His most explosive story of all, published in May 1992, claimed that Jacques Delors, then commission president, was conspiring to centralise huge powers in Brussels, in effect creating a European superstate. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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If capitalism is broken, maybe it’s fixable

Posted by hkarner - 10. Juli 2019

Date: 10-07-2019
Source: The Economist

A book excerpt and interview with Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics and author of “People, Power and Profits”

FOR DECADES Joseph Stiglitz has argued that globalisation only works for a few, and government needs to reassert itself in terms of redistribution and regulation. Today the sources of his ire have grown more dire. Wealth inequality has become a hot-button political issue just as populists are on the march.

In Mr Sitglitz’s latest book, “People, Power, and Profits: Progressive Capitalism for an Age of Discontent,” he expands on his left-of-centre economic prescriptions. He believes that capitalism’s excesses can be tamed by the state providing a “public option” in areas like health care or mortgages when the market flounders.

As part of The Economist’s Open Future initiative, we conducted a short, written interview with Mr Stiglitz about his ideas. It is followed by an excerpt from his book, on what he calls “the transition to a postindustrial world.”

* * *

The Economist: You argue that right-wing populists aren’t wrong—capitalism is indeed rigged. How so? Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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