Month: June 2016

Brexit is not a major global shock

The Market Monetarist

It rarely happens, but sometimes Scott Sumner and I disagree and that is the case presently.

Scott sees Brexit as a major negative global shock, while I think that Brexit on its own is not really a big deal.

The paradox is that going into the latest political and market events Scott has actually been rather relaxed about both the global economy and the US economy, while I have been a lot more worried.

I have been worried that premature monetary tightening could send the US economy into recession and could blow the ‘dollar block’ up and in the process cause a major Chinese crisis and at the same time I have in the latest couple of months also started to worry that slowing nominal GDP growth in the euro zone could cause another ‘euro spasm’.

I very much worry about these issues and therefore I am hardly think…

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Ewan Smith: What Would Happen if the Government Unlawfully Issued an Article 50 Notification without Parliamentary Approval?

UK Constitutional Law Association

Ewan SmithIn “Pulling the Article 50 ‘Trigger’: Parliament’s Indispensable Role” Nick Barber, Jeff King and Tom Hickman argued that it is Parliament, and not the government, who get to decide whether to trigger an notification under Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union.  I agree with them.

Barber, King and Hickman base the argument on general grounds, drawing on the Case of Proclamations. However, it is important to consider the specialised rules that apply to the government’s power to conclude treaties. It is also important to think about the consequences of unconstitutional action, both as a matter of domestic and international law. It is not obvious that a British court could prevent the government from issuing a notification, nor is it obvious that an unconstitutional notification would be ineffective in international law. This post will explain these complications; then explain why an English court can issue a…

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The Eternal Impotence of the Middle Class Left


How many times has someone described themselves to you as an ‘Anti-Capitalist’? Whether on a facebook profile or after 3 drinks at a party some people love nothing more than to label themselves with this pseudo-rebellious moniker (Ironically they tend to be the same people who use phrases like, “I don’t like Labels”). But as you look down you notice they are not wearing tree bark sandals or hand woven hemp. Their wardrobe is straight out of Gap and Fat face and they’re usually holding a bottle of craft ale that’s been marketed so well Milton Friedman would blush.

The bearded hipster brigade is oblivious to the myriad ways capitalism not only makes their existence possible but actually enriches their lives. Without the bewildering choice of almost every consumer good they can imagine, many pushing the boundaries of technology and science, there would be no Youtube videos of Russell Brand…

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Ayaan Hirsi Ali chats with Bill Maher: Why do liberals overlook Islamic extremism?

Why Evolution Is True

Ayaan Hirsi Ali has a new book out about how to reform Islam: Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now. I’m nearly done with it, and it’s quite good—except that Muslims will never accept her five suggestions for reforming the faith. (Sample: Muslims must not take the Qur’an literally. That sounds good, but in many Muslim countries it’s a form of heresy punishable by death.) I wish mightily that Muslims would listen to her, but the chances of that are about nil. Nevertheless, it’s a thoughtful book and a good try. It also contradicts her many critics who say that she only wants to wipe Islam from our planet. Perhaps she does, but the book presents a reasonable program of reformation, not extermination.

Hirsi Ali had a conversation about this issue—and about why American liberals turn a blind eye toward Muslim extremists—last night on Bill Maher’s “Real Time” show. One…

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Why don’t feminists fight for Muslim women?

Open Parachute

I will probably get some negative feedback for posting this video (as I did with Richard Dawkins and the Skeptics Conference controversy). But Ayan Hirsi Ali makes some important points worth a proper discussion.

I think she is too simplistic about some things. Such as attributing modern values to our Judeo-Christian heritage – if that was the over-riding factor our values system would be far more backwards.

But often groups fighting for improvements in the values systems of our society can be hypocritical in their attitudes towards the problems in other societies. This appears to be the case with at least some feminist groups – but is also true of some other groups which consider themselves “progressive.”


Thanks to Why Evolution is True: Ayaan Hirsi Ali on the failure of feminists to fight for Muslim women.

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Skills matter….and we already seem to have them

croaking cassandra

Earlier this week the OECD released Skills Matter, a 160 page report on the results of a programme of surveys of adult skills in OECD (and a handful of other) countries.  As usual with OECD reports, it is full of fascinating charts.  Here is how they describe the programme:

In the wake of the technological revolution that began in the last decades of the 20th century, labour market demand for information-processing and other high-level cognitive and interpersonal skills is growing substantially. The Survey of Adult Skills, a product of the OECD Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), was designed to provide insights into the availability of some of these key skills in society and how they are used at work and at home. The first survey of its kind, it directly measures proficiency in several information-processing skills – namely literacy, numeracy and problem solving in technology-rich environments.

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