Econintersect: Every day our editors collect the most interesting things they find from around the internet and present a summary "reading list" which will include very brief summaries (and sometimes longer ones) of why each item has gotten our attention. Suggestions from readers for "reading list" items are gratefully reviewed, although sometimes space limits the number included.
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Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world
Every map you’ve ever seen of Africa is right (Al Jazeera) Would new maps that depict the continent’s size more accurately really change our attitudes about it? The Mercator world map (named for Gerardus Mercator, the 16th century cartographer who created it) relatively reduces the size of regions near the equator and expands the size of areas near the poles. Greenland, for instance, appears roughly the same size as Africa, even though Africa’s actual land mass is 14 times Greenland’s. But when a relative area projection (like the the Gall-Peters projection) emphasizes Africa by more accurately representing land area it probably doesn't change one's perseption ofimportance. And, of course, in order to get Africa’s relative size right, Gall-Peters must distort its shape more dramatically than it does the shape of the U.S. of other areas midway between the equator and a pole. Econintersect note: This is a facinating article with several antique maps displayed.
Maastricht and All That (London Review of Books) Hat tip to Ann Pettifor, Twitter. One of the most important largely ignored economic documents of all time, written by Wynne Godley in 1992, the same year that the Maastricht Treaty was signed. Godley recognized in precise detail the outcome we see since 2008 in the Eurozone. Some excerpts (but you must read the entire article for context):
The central idea of the Maastricht Treaty is that the EC countries should move towards an economic and monetary union, with a single currency managed by an independent central bank. But how is the rest of economic policy to be run? As the treaty proposes no new institutions other than a European bank, its sponsors must suppose that nothing more is needed. But this could only be correct if modern economies were self-adjusting systems that didn’t need any management at all.
It needs to be emphasised at the start that the establishment of a single currency in the EC would indeed bring to an end the sovereignty of its component nations and their power to take independent action on major issues.
I recite all this to suggest, not that sovereignty should not be given up in the noble cause of European integration, but that if all these functions are renounced by individual governments they simply have to be taken on by some other authority. The incredible lacuna in the Maastricht programme is that, while it contains a blueprint for the establishment and modus operandi of an independent central bank, there is no blueprint whatever of the analogue, in Community terms, of a central government. Yet there would simply have to be a system of institutions which fulfils all those functions at a Community level which are at present exercised by the central governments of individual member countries.
If a country or region has no power to devalue, and if it is not the beneficiary of a system of fiscal equalisation, then there is nothing to stop it suffering a process of cumulative and terminal decline leading, in the end, to emigration as the only alternative to poverty or starvation.
What I find totally baffling is the position of those who are aiming for economic and monetary union without the creation of new political institutions (apart from a new central bank), and who raise their hands in horror at the words ‘federal’ or ‘federalism’.
Let Greece Go(Bloomberg View) Barry Ritholtz says the solution is simple. It won’t be fast, it won’t be easy, but it will be a huge improvement for all concerned. Greece should "just default on the debt and start anew."
The Dark Side Of The Shale Bust (Oil Price) Production in North Dakota is still near the peak but that is not expected to last much longer and the local economy is feeling the pain. And Canadian oil fields are feeling even more pain.
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