Politics & Economics - Contents

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When developing countries try to catch up with the developed countries, there are many challenges. Will they be allowed to protect the new industries, they are trying to set up? Can they get funding for the huge investments needed? Can they get their economic policy right? It is not easy, but history tells us that it is not impossible.

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As many developing countries are now turning to ‘developmentalism’ to close the gap to the developed countries, it is worth looking at what lessons can be learned from history regarding the failures and successes of the developmentalist state. One of the main hurdles for developmentalism is political: is it possible to create a strong political coalition and institutions that will back this policy for a prolonged period?

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As neo-liberalism has turned out not to work for developing countries, many of them are now looking elsewhere for other policy options. Which options do they have? Can they imitate what Japan, the South-East Asian ‘tigers’ and China have done? That will not be easy, but some lessons can be learned.

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Disinformation campaigns are unfortunately normal parts of political rivalry, and they are certainly even more prominent during wars. Successful disinformation can be a powerful tool. However, there is a risk that you end up believing your own disinformation, and that means that fatal decisions are taken on false premises. That is what seems to be happening in the Ukraine war. And that is extremely dangerous.

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Is the Chinese economy bigger than that of the US, or is it the other way round? Both statements are repeatedly seen in the headlines of the media. The answer boils down to whether you look at GDP in market prices or you correct for what you can buy for the money (purchasing power). But there are also other ways to measure the relative strength of the two economies and the result is the same. China inevitable comes out at the top.

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While the atrocities in Gaza continue, the Western powers, the alleged standard-bearers of civilisation against barbarians, continue supporting Israel unconditionally, while kindly asking Israel to please kill fewer civilians. Apart from losing credibility, they are nurturing future terrorists. We can only hope that the fact that quite a lot of decent people in the West are showing their solidarity with Palestine, despite their Governments, can limit this damage.

Thursday, 15 February 2024 18:14 in Politics

It is now it is becoming dangerous

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As defeat is looming for NATO in Ukraine, what will NATO do? Call it quit, negotiate and try to get the best out of it – even if it will not look good? Refuse to accept the defeat and continue to the bitter end, even if that may cost tens or hundreds of thousands more lives and finally ending in losing it all? Escalate and send NATO troops to Ukraine? This is a very dangerous historic moment.

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Two companies have presently the world market for computer chips in an iron grip: Intel/AMD and ARM. Inspired by the success of the open software movement, an open source hardware technology, called RISC-V, is now challenging this monopoly. My guess is that it will be successful, not least because more and more countries are worried about the monopolization. That is obviously the case for China and Russia, but India, Brazil and EU are also betting on RISC-V.

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We know from history that cooperation among small producers in cooperatives under certain circumstances can beat commercial private companies. But within software, another type of cooperation has appeared during the last decades. The whole thing was started by hobbyists who liked what they were doing and were cooperating which each other, despite that there was no economic benefit in it. In some areas it has proven extremely effective in challenging monopolies and bringing down excess costs for the user.

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We are told by liberals, and in particular economists, that humans are selfish, and by being selfish, they are contributing in the best way to the common good. This is scientifically incorrect. Humans are of course looking for their own interests, but they are genetically also disposed for being cooperative and with a capacity of self-sacrifice – also called altruism.

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