Day: December 13, 2018

Is Artificial Gravity a Real Possibility? – Cheddar Explores


RIP: Prof Douglass North

Mostly Economics

The blog was on a break which got longer than planned. There has been no blogging for a while and it is quite a sad post to start off with.

Prof Douglass North  passed away this week. No words can do justice to the contribution made by Prof North to institutional economics.  There is a collection of tributes on MR and another one at his Univ website.

I only have couple of things to add. I was once reading his interview where he said he learnt most of his economics after his PhD! Moreover, he mugged and cleared his written comprehensive exams (a set of exams in a Phd program one has to clear before writing the dissertation). But the people on his oral viva figured he knew very little about economics. They could not fail him as his written scores were really good! Sometimes inefficiency in the system…

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The role of transaction costs in Douglass North’s understanding of economic history

Mostly Economics

Nice paper by Rosolino Candela of George Mason University:

The purpose of this chapter is an attempt to reconstruct the evolution of North’s approach to understanding economic history. Underlying this evolution has been an increasing recognition of the role that transaction costs play in explaining the economic performance of different societies through time. I argue that, as a by-product of North’s emphasis on transaction costs throughout his scholarship, he transitioned from a neoclassical to an Austrian understanding of the process of economic change.

The implications of North’s growing emphasis on transactions costs throughout his career was a growing importance of other complementary features of economic theory, shared by Austrians, to explain processes of institutional change throughout economic history. These features of Austrian economic theory include: methodological subjectivism; competition and discovery under uncertainty; a dynamic conception of learning through time; and the role of ideology in structuring the patterns of meaning and purpose…

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Review of “Reagan: An American Journey” by Bob Spitz

My Journey Through the Best Presidential Biographies

Published in late 2018, Bob Spitz’s “Reagan: An American Journey” is the most recently-published biography of Ronald Reagan. Spitz is a journalist and author whose previous best-selling books include “Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child” and
The Beatles: The Biography.” Spitz was previously a manager for Bruce Springsteen and Elton John.

At first glance, Spitz seems an unlikely presidential biographer. He is neither a journalist who spent decades closely covering his subject nor is he a historian with a predilection for writing. And yet Spitz has authored the most substantial – and possibly the most commendable – comprehensive, single-volume biography of Reagan I’ve read.

This 761-page tome is built upon a foundation of hundreds of interviews with Reagan’s family, friends and associates, access to his personal papers (granted by Nancy prior to her death in 2016) and insights provided by earlier biographers. Anyone…

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Kenneth Armstrong: The Advent of Brexit – Can It Be Paused?

UK Constitutional Law Association

As each day passes, a new window seems to be thrown open exposing fresh legal issues to be solved as the UK continues its journey towards its withdrawal from the European Union. It’s like opening an advent calendar for lawyers.

On Monday 10 December, the Court of Justice of the European Union in its Wightman ruling resolved the legal question of whether an EU Member State can revoke its Article 50 TEU notification of its intention to withdraw from the EU and do so unilaterally. The Court ruled that unilateral revocation is a permissible action of a sovereign EU state provided it occurs before a withdrawal agreement enters into force or before the expiry of the two-year period for negotiations (or an extended period).

On Tuesday 11 December, the former UK Prime Minister Sir John Major suggested that the right to revoke be invoked with immediate effect in order to…

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