Book Review: Benjamin Schwartz – In Search Of Wealth And Power

In Search of Wealth and Power by Benjamin Schwartz, published in 1964. Rating: 4/5. In Search of Wealth and Power is a very dense but richly rewarding tome by Benjamin Schwartz, a noted China scholar. He focuses on the life of the translator Yan Fu to illustrate the culture clashes that arose when traditional Chinese civilization came into […]

The Soviet Economy – Charting Failure

Many Communists, leftists, and even patriots (I’m sorry to say) have a pronounced tendency to make out the Soviet economy as not quite the resounding failure it really was – or even to paint it as a success story that was only brought down by perestroika and liberal reforms. The above chart – based on […]

Actually China Is Probably Already Bigger

Despite the generally loathsome nature of The Economist, it does have its advantages most of which can be reduced to its Daily Charts blog which focuses on statistics as opposed to rhetoric. According to the chart above, as of 2012 ever more people, especially in the developed world, are starting to believe that the China is […]

Italy, A Showcase For Why Human Capital Matters

One of the key criticisms of my last post on the tight connections between (educational) human capital and economic performance is that correlation need not imply causation. An alternate (and PC-compliant) explanation is that “you get the education system you could afford, and the level of human capital in the kids is mostly determined by the efficiency of the […]

Education as the Elixir of Growth III

Just in case you thought the correlation between human capital and economic development was an artifice of the post-socialist world, here is a similar graph (R2=0.4273) for all the world’s countries that have participated in the Math and Science portions of the PISA or TIMMS (8th grade) international standardized student assessments. The methodology is the […]

The Profound Irrelevance of Corruption, Institutions, And Ease Of Business To Economic Growth

That title sure caught you attention? Good. Now for the 1000-words-in-a-picture evidence. Human capital refers to educational attainment, as measured by the results of the PISA and TIMMS standardized tests*. As you can see, there is a very close correlation between human capital and GDP (PPP) per capita. The exceptions all confirm the rule. For […]

Book Review: Kenneth Pomeranz – The Great Divergence

Pomeranz, Kenneth – The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy (2001) Category: economy, history, world systems; Rating: 5*/5 Summary: Brad DeLong’s review; The Bactra Review; Are Coal and Colonies Really Crucial? The Power Of Contingency: Why China Didn’t Rule The World It’s a rare book that not only vastly informs you on a […]

Top 10 Sinophobe Myths

Just as with Russia, the Western media (beholden as it is to its power elite sponsors and anti-Rest ideology) peddles many tropes about China that cloud real understanding of this fascinating civilization-state. In the spirit of Sino Triumphalism, this is my attempt to set the record straight and overturn the lazy arguments used to dismiss, […]

Walled Off By Complexity: Did China Stagnate Because Of Its Writing System?

One of the biggest questions in global history is why it was Western Europe that industrialized first, and ended up colonizing most of the rest of the world. As late as 1450, the possibility of such an outcome would have been ridiculed. By almost any metric, China was well in the lead through the medieval period […]

Tales From The Beijing Embassy

Four cables from Cathay, courtesy of this excellent Cable Search tool. The first cable (Cable 1) is one of the last dispatches of Ambassador to the PRC Clark T. Randt, a long, analytical piece from January 2009. But it’s also perhaps the least interesting of the four.  This is because it is only a rehashing of […]

The Century without an Indian Summer

How will the global South fare in our likely future of energy shortages, climate change and resource nationalism (and wars)? India has China’s population mass, but lacks its industrial dynamism and human capital. Africa has Russia’s energy and mineral wealth, but not the military power or social coherence to defend it. South America’s prospects appear brighter […]