Vacuous declarations; carbon neutral Maldives; Dani Rodrik, heretic; the case for over-regulation and why watching soaps leads to fewer babies but more lovers: links I liked

March 23, 2009 2 By admin

The FT impales a vacuous G20 finance ministers declaration

The Maldives becomes the first country to go carbon neutral. Unfortunately it’s everyone else who has to do likewise to save it from sinking beneath the rising seas.

Dani Rodrik as heretical and original as ever, arguing for stronger national regulation, not the global variety, on the basis that financial diversity strengthens resilience, among other arguments. ‘It is necessary, for political economy reasons, to rush new comprehensive regulation of the financial sector.  The reason is that the private financial sector is on its uppers – down and out – and will not be able to put together much of a fight, let alone its usual boom-time massive lobbying effort to veto radical measures.  It is better to over-regulate now and subsequently to correct the mistakes than to risk another era of self-regulation and soft-touch under-regulation of financial markets, instruments and institutions.’ The ravings of some rabid trot? Nope, a blog by Willem Buiter, Professor of European Political Economy at the European Institute of the London School of Economics and Political Science, former member of the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England and former Chief Economist at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Buiter then sets out an excellent sketch of what such regulation should look like, on tax havens, demanding the same level of pre-approval screening for new financial products as currently applies for new drugs etc etc.

And finally, some off-piste research on Brazil from the Inter-American Development Bank (!), arguing that the national obsession with soaps (telenovelas) has reduced domestic violence and encouraged women to have fewer babies, but more lovers.