The Political Economy of US Foreign Policy

Summary : (Part 1 of 4) I critique commenter Matt’s argument that, at the deepest level, American foreign policy has sought a “favourable investment climate” for itself in the Third World. Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Foreign Investment, International Relations, U.S. foreign policy | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

A Very Brief History of Foreign Investment

Summary : (Part 2 of 4) As the prelude to a critique of commenter Matt’s view of American foreign policy presented in Part 1, I sketch a brief history of foreign investment as context. Fear not the drear of evil, for the post is mostly pictures (charts) ! ( Cf. parts 1, 3, 4 ) Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Economic History, Foreign Investment, International Relations, U.S. foreign policy | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

The Balance Sheet of US Foreign Policy 1940-2013

(Part 3 of 4) I argue that commenter Matt’s view of US foreign policy, as presented in Part 1, makes no sense because the “returns” from that investment climate are laughably low. I present a balance sheet of American internationalism since 1940. ( Cf. parts 1, 2, 4 ) Note the balance sheet below is actually ridiculous, but it’s done according to Matt’s criteria. Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Foreign Investment, International Relations, U.S. foreign policy | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

The Mystery of US Behaviour in the World

(Part 4 of 4) I argue that American behaviour on the world stage defies any rational explanation. I also question whether the United States has derived much economic benefit from its activist and interventionist approach in the world. Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, History, International Relations, U.S. foreign policy | Tagged , , , | 49 Comments

Argentina’s Exclusion from the Marshall Plan 1948-50

In the comments section of an unrelated blogpost, the commenter Matt doggedly argues that the Truman administration deliberately prohibited the European beneficiaries of the Marshall Plan from using American funds to purchase Argentinian wheat in 1948-50. This discrimination, Matt contends, was an attempt to punish Argentina for its nationalist economic policies under Juan Perón. I disputed that a deliberate discrimination occurred at all. But Matt has now cited what I think is conclusive evidence that at least the Economic Cooperation Administration (the administrator of the Marshall Plan funds) did deliberately exclude Argentina, probably under Congressional pressure. The issue is small, a mere footnote on the marginalia of US-Latin American relations very early in the Cold War, but there is a lot of information and argument in there and it’s worth reading the exchange.

Posted in Cold War, International Relations, Latin America | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Ideology & Human Development

How real are Cuba’s accomplishments in health and education since the revolution? How do they compare with the situation prior to the revolution? Was the Soviet Union’s subsidy to Cuba crucial to its human development? Did the US hostility to the Cuban Revolution have an impact?

{ Edit-Addendum 26 Nov. 2016: This blogpost was written 2.5 years ago as a rejoinder to with commenter Matt in a debate about human development in Cuba as well as Kerala, China, South Korea, West Bengal, etc. So it may make references not immediately obvious from the context. See Debate with Matt. }

Continue reading

Posted in Health & Economics, Human Development, Social Development, Sociometrics | Tagged , , , | 86 Comments

Debate with Matt on India, China, Cuba, Korea, etc.

Below I quote the lengthy exchange I had with Matt on India, China, Cuba, South Korea, etc. in the comments section of another blog. Since our debate was off-topic, Matt and I have agreed to move it here. My latest reply to Matt is contained in the separate blogpost, “Ideology & Human Development“. Note : Matt had already been arguing with others about something else, so below I merely extract that part of the debate relevant to ours. Continue reading

Posted in Human Development, Sociometrics | Tagged , , , ,

Samples of Greek & Latin, Restored Pronunciation

Some MP3 samples of the “restored” pronunciation of classical Greek and Latin. Continue reading

Posted in Ancient Greek, Classics, Latin | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

The Little Divergence

Summary : A “great divergence” between the economies of Western Europe and East Asia had unambiguously occurred by 1800. However, there’s a growing body of opinion that this was preceded by a “little divergence” (or “lesser divergence”?) which might have started as early as 1200. I argue that the pre-modern “little divergence” was probably real, but that doesn’t mean it happened because of a modern growth process — a sustained rise in the production efficiency of the divergent economies. Continue reading

Posted in Economic History | Tagged , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Angus Maddison

This blogpost examines the dubious assumptions behind Angus Maddison’s pre-1200 income data. Continue reading

Posted in Economic History | Tagged | 1 Comment

Height in the Dark Ages

It’s widely believed that everything went to hell after the fall of the Roman empire — at least in the western part. Literacy collapsed ; roads were no longer maintained ; interregional trade pretty much died out ; barbarian marauders from the north preyed on the weak and innocent ;  steppe nomads from the east raped and pillaged ; perfectly arable land went fallow for centuries ; and there was depopulation of much of what had been Roman civilisation in the West. Continue reading

Posted in Economic History, Sociometrics | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Don’t keep saying he didn’t explain England

Too many readers have believed Gregory Clark in A Farewell to Alms did not really address why England experienced the Industrial Revolution first. Right or wrong, Clark did offer an explanation. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments

Polish Illiquidity Preference

If Monty Python decided to resdesign Slavic phonology, they might take some inspiration from Polish. Continue reading

Posted in Languages | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Proto et al., “Higher Intelligence Groups Have Higher Cooperation Rates in the Repeated Prisoner’s Dilemma”

This is a description of Proto, Rustichini & Sofianos, “Higher Intelligence Groups Have Higher Cooperation Rates in the Repeated Prisoner’s Dilemma”. The text was originally embedded in the longer post, “Where do pro-social institutions come from?“, but several people asked me to make it a standalone post. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Creativity of Civilisations

There are idiots in this world who babble about the rise and fall of the Islamic Golden Age in terms of rising and falling mean intelligence!!! Amazing. Here is a simple illustration of “more people, more ideas”. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 15 Comments

Random Notes

This is my version of Open Thread. It’s for posting random & miscellaneous observations in the comments section. Sometimes they are longer responses/questions related to an exchange or debate I’ve had elsewhere. Sometimes they are unfinished blogposts.

Posted in Uncategorized | 28 Comments

Time on the Cross Summary

The 10-point summary of Time on the Cross: the Economics of American Slavery by Robert Fogel and Stanley Engerman, from pp 4-6 of the book itself. Included as a reference for the blogpost “Baptism by Blood Cotton“. Continue reading

Posted in Economic History | Tagged | 2 Comments