All the (bad) news that’s fit to blog about, Mexico edition

Mexican officials often bemoan the fact that American media focuses too much on the negative when it comes to reporting about the country.  Here I pile on:

1. Watering down transparency laws in Mexico (in Spanish)

2. Watering down the new education reforms by agreeing to “pay salaries and bonuses owed to a group of public-school teachers who are not on the official payroll.”

3. “Amid wave of thefts, Mexico won’t ship gasoline in pipelines”

4. “Disappearances Double in Mexico”


When life gives you lemons, make lemonade (in your pants edition)

The Pope is coming to Manila and the government has advice for everyone: Diaper up!

People, as always, I am not making this up.  Check here for 2000 diapered traffic cops, And here’s a local bureaucrat claiming the diapers he has in mind will go four rounds!

In possibly related news, Tyler Cowen will be visiting OU in February and the same protocol may well be in place then.

Just what you were hoping for: a CG ebola roundup

1. In Liberia, Firestone uses resources, a streamlined decision making process, and quarantine protocols to stop ebola in its company town of 80,000 outside Monrovia.

2. In Sierra Leone, ebola-specific medical supplies sit on the docks for months while bureaucrats squabble over shipping fees.

3. From the Dallas ebola case, we learn that having a checklist don’t help if you don’t actually follow through on what it tells you!

Asia Deja Vu

It’s back to the future in the far east.

First comes word that Kim Jong number Un is partying like it’s 1949, air-brushing his victims out of official photos. Do you think they have photoshop in the Hermit Kingdom?

Second, Singapore flashed back to 1969 with its first riot in over 40 years. Just like the earlier one it was racial/ethnic in origin.

Do you believe in miracles?

Tyler Cowen doesn’t, at least not any more. In a provocative NY Times piece today, Tyler says, “sustained, meteoric growth in emerging economies may no longer be possible”. He points to 4 culprits, Automation, Global Supply Sources, Wider Economic Gaps, & Aging Populations.

There is some interesting academic work on the possibility that eventual global convergence is not a sure thing, even if countries ADOPT ALL THE “RIGHT” POLICIES

Here’s Howitt and Meyer (JMCB 2005), “a country may have only a finite window of opportunity in which to raise its skill levels to those required for R&D, failing which the country will remain trapped in implementation or stagnation even if it adopts the same policies and institutions as the world’s technology leaders.”


Even the ever-green prescription of “free-trade” may lead to divergence rather than convergence.

Here’s Bajona and Kehoe (RED 2010), “In models in which convergence in income levels across closed countries is driven by faster accumulation of a productive factor in the poorer countries, opening these countries to trade can stop convergence and even cause divergence….Divergence can occur for parameter values that would imply convergence in a world of closed economies.

Double Yikes!!

In my own research with Norman Maynard (trans-dimensional Bayesian mixture modelling alert!!), we find that in the 1950s and 1960s and most of the 1970s, there were two distinct groups in the global distribution of cross-country income, and there was a high degree of mobility from the poor to the rich group. Since the second age of globalization began in the 1980s, a new distinct group of super-rich countries has formed, the gaps between the poor group and the richest group have grown, and inter-group upward mobility has become a rarity.

Can I get a triple yikes?

Economics, as ever, is truly the dismal science.