Monday, May 30, 2016

A Simple Advice to Potential Policymakers

The advice to potential policymakers is simple: Learn as much as you can, for most of it will come in useful at some stage of your career; but never forget that identifying what is happening in the economy is essential to your ability to do your job, and for that you need to keep your eyes, your ears, and your mind open, and with regard to your mouth--to use it with caution.
"Reflections on Macroeconomics Then and Now" by Stanley Fischer

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

An Idea Made Architecturally Visible

And there, when the cherry blossom is doing its shameless thing, and the streets of Adams Morgan are warming to the kids on the block, it’s entirely possible to see Washington as not just DC, not just ideology made visible, but as an American community; and a good one at that.
from "Washington DC" by Simon Schama

Stolid Presence and Immobile Features

Xi conveys Napoleonic self-confidence in the importance of his mission and its inevitable success. In person he is said to be affable and relaxed. But his carefully curated public persona follows Mao in displaying a stolid presence and immobile features that seem to convey either stoicism or implacability, depending on whether he is sitting through a boring speech or giving one. The propaganda agencies labor to generate a huggable image of “Daddy Xi,” and Xi appears to be genuinely popular among the public, although this is changing as the economy slows. But his anticorruption campaign affecting a great many people has ground on, leading intellectual and official elites to read his expression as inscrutable and frightening.
from "Who is Xi?" by Andrew J. Nathan

Thursday, May 12, 2016

On Conviction

Ana Pauker was a minister in the infamous Stalinist administration that ruled Romania in the early fifties; she was noted for her unswerving devotion to the orthodoxies of Moscow. A favourite anecdote of the day described how she was seen in the streets of Bucharest on a warm spring day under a large umbrella: why? 'Because', she said, 'it's raining in Moscow.'
from the Chatham Lecture at Trinity College, Oxford - "Convictions, Loyalties and the Secular State" by Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams

ICYMI

Kubla Khan
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.


Хубилай Хаан
Б.Амарсанаагийн орчуулга

Хүмүүний зүйрлэлд оршил үгүй ангалыг шувтлан
Гэрэл үгүй түнэр тэнгисийг зорих
Буртаг үгүй ариун Альп мөрөн урсах
Шанду нутагт таашаалын асар цогцлуулахаар
Хубилай хаан зарлиг буулгав.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Distinction Between College and Graduate School

"I don't think we should have majors. I don't understand what majors are about. Majors are very late in the [inaudible]--I think just post-WWI or during WWI is when they were introduced. I make the distinction in my own thinking between college, which is for education, and graduate school, which is for professional training."
from Mark Mancall on education

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Preëmptive Comment on the Pleasures of Competition

I have played sports (tennis, cricket), I have done a lot of cycling, but in all of this my aspiration has simply been to do as well as I can. Winning or losing—who cares? How I judge whether or not I have done well is a private matter, between myself and what I suppose I would call my conscience.

I don’t like forms of sport that model themselves too closely on warfare, in which all that matters is winning and winning becomes a matter of life and death—sports that lack grace, as war lacks grace. At the back of my mind is some ideal—and perhaps concocted—vision of Japan, in which one refrains from inflicting defeat on an opponent because there is something shameful in defeat and therefore something shameful in imposing defeat.

All the best,

John
The Better Player by Paul Auster and J. M. Coetzee

Klavierkonzert No.5



Glenn Gould's brilliant rendition of Beethoven's Klavierkonzert No.5 (my personal favorite is the second movement; watch from 19:20)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

On this day 26 years ago



Найруулагч Ж.Солонгын "Найм хагас" баримтат кино. Өдгөөгөөс яг 26 жилийн өмнөх тэр өдөр яалт ч үгүй Монгол түмний заяа түшиж саруул ухаанаар асуудлаа шийдэцгээсэн юм аа.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Delivering Steadily on Our Promise for a Long Time

We must remember that our international reputation is of a country with great promise, which has under-delivered in the past. This is why we are still the poorest country on a per capita basis among the BRICS. We need to change perceptions by delivering steadily on our promise for a long time – by implementing, implementing, and implementing. We cannot get carried away by our current superiority in growth, for as soon as we believe in our own superiority and start distributing future wealth as if we already have it, we stop doing all that is required to continue growing. This movie has played too many times in India’s past for us to not know how it ends.
"Words Matter but so Does Intent" address by Dr. Raghuram Rajan, Governor of Reserve Bank of India on April 20, 2016 at the 12th NIBM Convocation, Pune

Monday, April 18, 2016

Something to be Said for Proximity

Historians have been overconfident about the wisdom to be gained by distance, believing it somehow confers objectivity, one of those unattainable values in which they have placed so much faith. Perhaps there is something to be said for proximity. Lord Acton, who delivered the first, famous lectures on the French Revolution at Cambridge in the 1870s, was still able to hear firsthand, from a member of the Orleans dynasty, the man's recollection of "Dumouriez gibbering on the streets of London when hearing the news of Waterloo."

Suspicion that blind partisanship fatally damaged the great Romantic narratives of the first half of the nineteenth century dominated scholarly reaction during the second half. As historians institutionalized themselves into an academic profession, they came to believe conscientious research in the archives could confer dispassion: the prerequisite for winkling out the mysterious truths of cause and effect. The desired effect was to be scientific rather than poetic, impersonal rather than impassioned. And while, for some time, historical narratives remained preoccupied by the life cycle of the European nation-states—wars, treaties and dethronements—the magnetic pull of social science was such that "structures," both social and political, seemed to become the principal objects of inquiry.

[...] the Revolution seem any longer to conform to a grand historical design, preordained by inexorable forces of social change. Instead it seems a thing of contingencies and unforeseen consequences (not least the summoning of the Estates-General itself). An abundance of fine provincial studies has shown that instead of a single Revolution imposed by Paris on the rest of a homogeneous France, it was as often determined by local passions and interests. Along with the revival of place as a conditioner have come people. For as the imperatives of "structure" have weakened, those of individual agency, and especially of revolutionary utterance, have become correspondingly more important
from Simon Schama's Citizens

Cf. this statement + an attempt to counter this "overconfidence" about the wisdom to be gained by distance

Friday, April 15, 2016

Даaнкэ шөн! Зээр гут!



С.Баярын редакторлосон "Ууган" номонд Б.Бадрууган агсан "Улаанбаатарын үдэш" дууг Германд дуулсан хувилбарыг хамгийн сайн нь гэж дурдсан байсантай яах аргагүй санал нийлнэ. Хэдэн онд дуулсан, тэрхүү орчуулга хийж чадалгүй будилсан нөхөр хэн байсан гээд ухвал зөндөө сонирхолтой зүйл гарч ирэх нь дамжиггүй.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

On Structural Reforms

I think one has to be very clear that structural reforms are not a miracle cure. They are hard to get through; the effects are very often uncertain. But given the future that I have described, it is very important to try. Some structural reforms can clearly make a difference, maybe not to the growth rate permanently but at least to the level of output, which means that for some time there will be higher growth. I think given the short-term political costs associated with structural reforms, which is the main reason why you do not see them happening very quickly, I think the challenge is to choose them very carefully rather than have a long list and deliver on none of them.
Olivier Blanchard in April 2015

This is ultimately the problem raised by the idea of structural reform. Because it is a novel idea, and also a novel political practice, we should not be too surprised that our political institutions still seem unprepared to explore all the possibilities it offers. For the present, it is still unclear in what direction we should be moving, even if the need to follow the idea of fundamental economic reform with new mechanisms and structures of political decision-making is now being felt more than ever.
Bruno Macaes - "What are structural reforms?"