February 17, 2009 § Leave a comment


The Specious Japan Comparison

February 13th, 2009 

By David Goldman


I am not sure who wrote this but it is an intriguing addition to the puzzle of hub economics and advantage.

“The spillovers in knowledge that result from talent-clustering are the main cause of economic growth.

Well-educated professionals and creative workers who live together in dense ecosystems, interacting directly, generate ideas and turn them into products and services faster than talented people in other places can. There is no evidence that globalization or the Internet has changed that. Indeed, as globalization has increased the financial return on innovation widening the consumer market, the pull of innovative places, already dense with highly talented workers, has only grown stronger, creating a snowball effect. Talent-rich ecosystems are not easy to replicate, and to realize their full economic value, talented and ambitious people increasingly need to live within them.”


This view of the modern art scene as a way of grasping the collapse of finance is helpful.

It’s early days in what promises to be the long death of a galactic civilization so it is going to be hard to discern how things might reshape themselves under this bombardment, how a re-ordering might be imagined, how art and the art-world might re-articulate new models of value. The developments of the last few decades suddenly seem to make it redundant. As James Buchan writes, ‘In societies governed by fashion and luxury, the public finds that there is almost nothing that it cannot do without.’ (‘Frozen Desire, an enquiry into the meaning of money.’) Looking over the wreckage of the ‘Mobile Art’ tour, Karl Lagerfield was visited by a strange moment of lucidity, ‘Today,’ he mused to the interviewer ‘everyone can say that something is for financial reasons when they want…for me, artistic reasons are more important. I always thought the building was a sculpture. I prefer it empty.’

That this art in the end represents only itself and the functions of value rather than any complex alternative religious, moral, immoral or political sphere (as art used to claim to) supports perhaps Alain Badiou’s proposal that we live in a social space in late capitalism that is progressively ‘worldless’. Planet Finance, is without a worldview of its own, and there is not a ‘global capitalist civilisation’, rather it operates in and across all civilisations: Christian, Hindu or Buddhist, East or West. Its global dimension can only be expressed through the ‘Real’ of the global market mechanism.


Excellent background to understand, lots of postings. Well organized


From world social forum last week

Across countless Forum events, environmentalists and labour leaders alike called for a “green New Deal” based on massive public investment in the environmental sector to stimulate job creation as well as environmental preservation.


John Kay on financial models

John Kay’s recent piece in the Financial Times is a useful warning to people doing financial—and other kinds of—forecasting: understanding the historical limitations of your model, and how badly things can go when the assumptions built into your model no longer hold:


An Open Health Competition

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and Changemakers.nethave launched “Designing for Better Health,” a competition that calls for projects that demonstrate novel and effective approaches to enouraging behavior changes to improve people’s health. In a letter to the Changemakers community, RWJF explains:


“People worry about the housing bust and the drop in consumption,” he added, “but the biggest story is the drop in capital spending. Corporations are concerned about whether they will survive so we’re seeing a global collapse of (capital) spending. That’s why something must be done on the stimulus side to diminish the contraction of economic activity.”


I can’t help but choke when again “since the great depression..” I and some others think it worse, because the bottom is too hard to define. We are probabaly not going back to a consumer culture because the buying was based on borrowing, and we can’t produce that much to replace it. The list is pretty good.

Twenty-five people at the heart of the meltdown

The worst economic turmoil since the Great Depression is not a natural phenomenon but a man-made disaster in which we all played a part. In the second part of a week-long series looking behind the slump, Guardian City editor Julia Finch picks out the individuals who have led us into the current crisis


This is an important reframe.

.Scholars like Christopher Howardand Jacob Hacker have been arguing for years that the American welfare state is at least as large as the average European welfare state. The main difference is that our welfare state operates through tax subsidies rather than direct spending, and these tax subsidies tend to benefit the middle class and the rich rather than the poor. And so our level of after-tax inequality is much higher than in European democracies, even though our level of pre-tax inequality is about the same as it is in Sweden, Britain and France. It could be that we’ve been socialists all along, just not very good ones.

In The Primacy of Politics, political scientist Sheri Berman argues that it wasn’t democratic capitalism that won the ideological struggle of the 20th century. Rather, it was social democracy, a political creed that insisted that politics take precedence over markets, and that the needs of the community should trump the appetites of the individual. In a sense, laissez-faire liberalism and Marxism–the alternatives against which the social democrats positioned themselves as a “third way”– were twins: Both emphasized the primacy of economics, and both strenuously opposed nationalism. As a result, both liberalism and Marxism failed to capture the imagination of the masses in the new democracies.

What’s this?

You are currently reading at Reflections on GardenWorld Politics Douglass Carmichael.


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