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Posts Tagged ‘Massachusetts

“It has been said that arguing against globalization is like arguing against the laws of gravity”*…

 

globalization

 

The preponderance of evidence suggests that financial globalization – especially unrestricted hot money – aggravates macroeconomic instability, creates the conditions for financial crises, and dampens long-run growth by making the tradable sector less competitive. Few economists would list financial globalization as an essential prerequisite for sustained long-term development or macroeconomic stability. And arguments made in its favor presume that every country has already met highly demanding regulatory requirements. Most have not and probably cannot, except over the long run.

While the International Monetary Fund has begun to make some allowance for restrictions on capital flows, albeit only as a temporary last resort for weathering cyclical surges, the dogma of financial globalization remains intact. One reason, perhaps, is that development economics has not shed its resource/savings fundamentalism, which attributed underdevelopment to a lack of domestic savings. The implication was that developing and emerging economies should attract resources in the form of foreign aid or, after skepticism about aid became widespread, foreign private capital.

Alternatively, the orthodoxy may owe its resilience to the power of entrenched financial interests that have stood in the way of new controls on cross-border capital flows. Wealthy elites in several countries – especially in Latin America and South Africa – embraced financial globalization early on because they saw it as offering a useful escape route for their wealth. In these cases, policy inertia and possible reputational costs made it difficult suddenly to start advocating a reversal. Global financial elites had long relied on a narrative that equates capital controls with expropriation, and responsible policymakers did not want to be seen as violating property rights…

Although much of the intellectual consensus behind neoliberalism has collapsed, the idea that emerging markets should throw their borders open to foreign financial flows is still taken for granted in policymaking circles.  Until that changes, Arvind Subramanian and Dani Rodrik argue, the developing world will suffer from unnecessary volatility, periodic crises, and lost dynamism: “The Puzzling Lure of Financial Globalization.”

* Kofi Annan

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As we cache our cash, we might recall that this was a bad day for inclusiveness in Massachusetts in 1635: the General Court of the then-Colony banished Roger Williams for speaking out for the separation of church and state and against the right of civil authorities to punish religious dissension and to confiscate Indian land.  Williams moved out to edge of the Narragansett Bay, where with the assistance of the Narragansett tribe, he established a settlement at the junction of two rivers near Narragansett Bay, located in (what is now) Rhode Island. He declared the settlement open to all those seeking freedom of conscience and the removal of the church from civil matters– and many dissatisfied Puritans came. Taking the success of the venture as a sign from God, Williams named the community “Providence.”

Williams stayed close to the Narragansett Indians and continued to protect them from the land greed of European settlers. His respect for the Indians, his fair treatment of them, and his knowledge of their language enabled him to carry on peace negotiations between natives and Europeans, until the eventual outbreak of King Philip’s War in the 1670s.  And although Williams preached to the Narragansett, he practiced his principle of religious freedom by refraining from attempts to convert them.

Roger Williams statue, Roger Williams Park, Providence, R.I.

source

 

 

“How about a little magic?”*…

 

sorcerers apprentice

 

Once upon a time (bear with me if you’ve heard this one), there was a company which made a significant advance in artificial intelligence. Given their incredibly sophisticated new system, they started to put it to ever-wider uses, asking it to optimize their business for everything from the lofty to the mundane.

And one day, the CEO wanted to grab a paperclip to hold some papers together, and found there weren’t any in the tray by the printer. “Alice!” he cried (for Alice was the name of his machine learning lead) “Can you tell the damned AI to make sure we don’t run out of paperclips again?”…

What could possibly go wrong?

[As you’ll read in the full and fascinating article, a great deal…]

Computer scientists tell the story of the Paperclip Maximizer as a sort of cross between the Sorcerer’s Apprentice and the Matrix; a reminder of why it’s crucially important to tell your system not just what its goals are, but how it should balance those goals against costs. It frequently comes with a warning that it’s easy to forget a cost somewhere, and so you should always check your models carefully to make sure they aren’t accidentally turning in to Paperclip Maximizers…

But this parable is not just about computer science. Replace the paper clips in the story above with money, and you will see the rise of finance…

Yonatan Zunger tells a powerful story that’s not (only) about AI: “The Parable of the Paperclip Maximizer.”

* Mickey Mouse, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

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As we’re careful what we wish for (and how we wish for it), we might recall that it was on this date in 1631 that the Puritans in the recently-chartered Massachusetts Bay Colony issued a General Court Ordinance that banned gambling: “whatsoever that have cards, dice or tables in their houses, shall make away with them before the next court under pain of punishment.”

Mass gambling source

 

Written by LW

March 22, 2019 at 1:01 am

Sniff, sniff…

Stumped by what to give your egomaniac boyfriend on his birthday? Consider Sean John’s (Sean Combs, a.k.a. P. Diddy) “I Am King” cologne, bursting with notes of sandalwood, orange and self-congratulation. And there’s plenty more where that came from: “I Am King of the Night” is another Sean John scent available for narcissistic insomniacs. Photo courtesy of FragranceNet.com.

From the good folks at Women’s Day, “The 10 Worst Celebrity Fragrance Names.”

As we ponder preposterous perfume, we might recall that it was on this date in 1639 that New College in Cambridge, MA was renamed Harvard College, in honor of clergyman John Harvard, who had bequeathed the school half his estate and his 400-volume library. (Harvard was first known as a “University” in 1780.)

The Daniel Chester French statue of Harvard that stands in Harvard Yard is inscribed “John Harvard, Founder, 1638.”  But it’s referred to by students as “the statue of three lies,” as the institution was actually established in 1636 by the General Court of the Massachusetts Colony– and the person depicted isn’t Harvard (who was unavailable, by reason of death, for sittings), but a College student.

That said, Harvard Bridge, which was also named for John Harvard, is reputed to be a pretty fair likeness.

Not John Harvard

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As we endeavor to stretch our dollars…

… we can thank Shine for help in using them as a direct source of entertainment and enlightenment:

“Fifteen Things You Never Noticed on a Dollar”

As we decide to pay our Masonic dues after all, we might recall that it was on this date in 1690 that the Colony of Massachusetts issued the first paper money in (that is, native to) North America.

Earliest surviving example, from later in 1690
source: University of Notre Dame

Written by LW

February 3, 2010 at 2:02 am

For the Square Pegs among us…

…the elegant science writer Ivar Peterson explains “How to Drill a Square Hole.”

As we relax into the unaccustomed feeling of fitting in, we might recall that on this date in 1639, the New World’s first– but of course by no means its last– alcohol prohibition law, outlawing the drinking of toasts, was passed in Massachusetts.  Boston’s first Brew Pub opened earlier that year; the Colony’s Fathers were apparently acting to preempt any inappropriate merriment, there or elsewhere in the area.

William’s Tavern, where toasting was not allowed

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Written by LW

September 4, 2009 at 12:01 am

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