Saturday, March 28, 2009
Reads For A Saturday Night of Contemplation
14th century dress
William of Ockham
Steve DeAngelis of Enterra Solutions leads off tonight with a trio of posts that show some countries are emerging like the ancient Phoeinx to rise above the swirling fears about a global economic recession
For decades, the Maghreb has been best known for being part of the arc of crisis that begins at Gibraltar and ends in Pakistan. Maghreb is an Arabic word meaning "place of sunset" or "western." Traditionally it refers to a region in North Africa that includes Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and, more recently, Libya. At a time when Western suspicions have deepened about Muslim countries because of the activities of radical Islamists, there is a remarkably upbeat report in BusinessWeek about the Maghreb ["The Rise of the Maghreb," by Carol Matlack and Stanley Reed, 16 March 2009 print edition]. Matlack and Reed note that in the immediate post-Cold War period, a number of automotive parts suppliers set up plants in Eastern Europe, but many of those same suppliers are now shifting their facilities to the Maghreb.
The best time to have money is when nobody else does. Head to any foreclosure sale and you'll understand what I mean. Chinese companies, which have amassed fortunes during past couple of decades, are now starting to spend some of that cash looking for bargains ["China Gains Key Assets In Spate of Purchases," by Ariana Eunchung Cha, Washington Post, 17 March 2009]. What's most interesting is where they are looking for those bargains and what they are buying.
As labor costs increased along with infrastructure modernization/replacement costs, economies of scale became less of a differentiator for developed countries -- which is why so much manufacturing has moved to so-called "low cost" countries.
Fabius Maximus never fails to stimulate my brain cells and this post does that along with visiting my favorite subject history.
Fab introduces it this way.
This is the title of a post by Brad Delong (Professor of Economics at Berkeley), about Buying Power of 14th Century Money, posted by Will Mclean at A Commonplace Book — Deeds of Arms and Other Matters Medieval and Otherwise, 3 July 2008. As the economy slides backwards, it is important to remember how far we have come. Almost every American is rich compared to the average person of 1776 — and perhaps even richer than almost everybody in the 14th century.
Read more: The Singularity is in our past
And weighing in or President Obama strategic plan for Afghanistan is abu mugqawama with his always logical manner. Take the time to introduce yourselves to William Ockham courtesy of Abu.
Sharing a car back from the wilds of Virginia yesterday, I had a long conversation with Dave Kilcullen that improbably ranged from Herodotus to William of Ockham to, finally, appropriate metrics in Afghanistan. (Fun fact: Dave's medievalist father is one of the world's leading experts on William of Ockham. Who knew?) As I joked on the blog a few weeks ago, the Marines used rice production as a metric in Vietnam in place of enemy body count, but we can't very well use poppy production as our metric in Afghanistan.
Read more: On Metrics in Afghanistan