It is elementary geopolitics that if you think you are a rising power, you soft-pedal it. You take every opportunity to defuse conflict and to diminish potential flashpoints. Time is, after all on your side. The most that you do is point out the incompetence and failures of the declining powers, and suggest that those are very likely to continue. Thus you do not have to risk conflict in order to increase your influence. Influence flows to you from others who take note of the rising sun and adapt to it. But China seems to be behaving differently—as though assertions of national strength and power are essential moves in some domestic-policy stabilization task?
Bill Bishop: Xi’s New World Order for the New Era: ‘That increasingly seems to be Xi Jinping’s goal, couched amidst calls to “to safeguard the UN-centered international system, preserve the international order underpinned by international law”. Xi’s speech… at the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2021…. Xi and his CCP clearly see massive opportunities from the carnage of the pandemic and the multiple strategic disasters of US domestic and foreign policy to change fundamentally the substance of the world order while keeping the edifice in place. And their odds of succeeding look higher than the foreign policy elite in America and its allies would like to admit. Is there a “Minsky Moment” concept for geopolitics? It is starting to look like Xi and his team think there is, or are at least willing to gamble on one…
Very Briefly Noted:
Steven Perlberg: The New York Times Responds to the Substack Boom: ‘The New York Times is readying a big newsletter push as Substack tries to poach its top writers with advances worth hundreds of thousands… <https://www.businessinsider.com/new-york-times-responds-to-the-substack-boom-2021-4>
Charles Q. Choi: Brain Signals Can Drive Exoskeleton Parts Better With Therapy: ‘Training patients to use muscle electrodes for robotic limb control works better than previously thought possible… <https://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/biomedical/devices/brain-computer-interface-exoskeleton-neural-link#disqus_thread>
Molly Jong-Fast: Why The U.S. Should Be Shipping Its Vaccines to the Rest of the World—Right Now <https://www.vogue.com/article/export-covid-vaccine>
ENDORSE!! PLEASE CANCEL ME, GLENN!!!!: Charlie Warzel: The Failing Galaxy Brain: ‘There are hundreds of us… HUNDREDS!…. CANCEL ME, GLENN! DADDY IS THINKING ABOUT INVESTING IN SOME NON-IKEA FURNITURE… LINK: <https://warzel.substack.com/p/the-failing-galaxy-brain> <http://braddelong.substack.com>
Jan Pieter Krahnen & al.: EU Economic Policy & Architecture After Covid: Rebootingthe Debate on the EU Reform Roadmap: ‘The financial crisis of 2007–2012 was the first wake up call to the inadequacy of the euro area architecture when facing a large systemic crisis. This column explains why the Covid crisis will leave a deeper impact on the European policy system, and re-introduces the Vox debate on Europe’s economic architecture in the context of the transformations that we have witnessed… LINK: <https://voxeu.org/article/eu-economic-policy-and-architecture-after-covid-rebooting-debate-eu-reform-roadmap>
Charlie Stross: Dude, You Broke the Future!: ‘I’m talking about the very old, very slow AIs we call corporations, of course. What lessons from the history of the company can we draw that tell us about the likely behaviour of the type of artificial intelligence we are all interested in today?… LINK: <http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2018/01/dude-you-broke-the-future.html>
CIFAR: Innovation, Equity & The Future of Prosperity: ‘The program examines how the policies used to generate and diffuse innovation affect the distribution of opportunities and outcomes in society. It also looks at which institutions and other factors facilitate or impede the development and implementation of distribution-sensitive innovation policies, programs and practices…. Upcoming Meetings: Friday April 23, 2021 from 10 a.m…. (Ken Lipartito)… LINK: <https://events.cifar.ca/website/20693/>
John Ganz: The Politics of Cultural Despair: ‘The preoccupation with despair is itself a form despair: an indulgence in gloom that feeds on itself. The practice of cultural criticism itself might be such a form of despair…. Maybe the basics are too often neglected in favor of grandiose dreams. As Hegel wrote, “Seek food and clothing first, and then the kingdom of God shall be added unto you.” And with that, I’m going to get dressed and eat my breakfast … LINK: <https://johnganz.substack.com/p/the-politics-of-cultural-despair>
Love Liman: Hedge Fund’s Collapse in Sweden Puts Spotlight Back on Quants: ‘IPM shuts its doors after losing $4 billion in the pandemic. More hedge funds closed than opened in last six years…. Lars Ericsson, the chairman of soon-to-be defunct Informed Portfolio Management, says it’s clear now that the quantitative strategies his fund used failed to cope with the market moves brought on by the pandemic. But he rejects the idea that quants have had their day. “There is definitely a future for quantitative hedge funds,” he said on Thursday. IPM, a systematic macro fund based in Stockholm, started bleeding client money more than a year ago, with about $4 billion in assets under management flowing out since late 2019. Ericsson says the fund’s medium-term models failed to cope with the shock that hit markets in early 2020…. IPM… managed to come back from the brink, but bad trades that predated the pandemic came back to haunt the fund. Its relative equity models had been weighing on performance for years, partly due to a strategy relying on value stocks…. Ericsson says he still thinks everything would have worked out had IPM had a little longer…. More hedge funds have closed than started in the last six years, with 770 of them shuttering in 2020, according to data compiled by Hedge Fund Research Inc…
Ezra Klein & Tressie Mcmillan Cottom: The Conversation Has Never Been Wider: ‘EZRA KLEIN: Well, I’m always asking for us to bring back blogging…. TRESSIE MCMILLAN COTTOM: Hmm. OK. So I now work with a lot of internet people. I’m in an information school at a university. And so a lot of my very good friends are those people, so I want to tiptoe carefully. I do think that there was a clubbiness and a camaraderie, even among people who politically disagreed. There was a class of thinkers, a class of writers who came up in that web 2.0 that does feel like, yeah, we lost something there. There was a humanity there for good or for bad…. There’s a reason they had chosen to be in that space before it all became about chasing an audience in a platform and turning that into influencer and translating that into…. And that’s what I think we’re missing when we become nostalgic for that web 2.0. I think it’s the people in the machine. Having said that, I am very resistant to nostalgia as a thing because usually what we are nostalgic for is a time that just was not that great for a lot of people…. EZRA KLEIN: But I think you’re right about that criticism of it, too. Something that, for all that I can tip into nostalgia, something that I think is often missed in today’s conversation is the conversation has never been wider. TRESSIE MCMILLAN COTTOM: Yes. EZRA KLEIN: People talk all about things they can’t say, but it has never been wider. TRESSIE MCMILLAN COTTOM: Yup. EZRA KLEIN: There’s never been a larger allowable space of things you could say. TRESSIE MCMILLAN COTTOM: That’s right. EZRA KLEIN: And people have also never been more pissed about how it feels to participate in it. I don’t want to say never, but broadly, there is an intensity to that conversation that is distinct, and I don’t think those things are unrelated, right? I think it is the wideness of the conversation and the fact that there are so many people you might hear from that make you feel cautious and insecure and unsafe, and the good of it is the bad of it… LINK: <https://kottke.org/21/04/the-conversation-has-never-been-wider>
Adam Posen: America’s Self-Defeating Economic Retreat: ‘Populist anger is the result not of economic anxiety but of perceived declines in relative status. The U.S. government has not been pursuing openness and integration over the last two decades. To the contrary, it has increasingly insulated the economy from foreign competition, while the rest of the world has continued to open up and integrate. Protecting manufacturing jobs benefits only a small percentage of the workforce, while imposing substantial costs on the rest. Nor will there be any political payoff from trying to do so: after all, even as the United States has stepped back from global commerce, anger and extremism have mounted.…
Anders Åslund: Russia’s Bear Economy: ‘Russia… ha[s]… registered no real growth since 2014…. Though Russia had a higher per capita GDP (in terms of purchasing power parity) than Croatia, Poland, Romania, and Turkey as recently as 2009, all of these countries have since overtaken it. Russians today are shocked to learn that they are worse off than Romanians and Turks. Among EU member states, only Bulgaria is still poorer than Russia. With its close proximity to the EU single market, Russia could have had higher growth if it had pursued sound economic policies. Instead, Putin has utterly squandered the country’s abundant human capital through corrupt cronyism and systematic deinstitutionalization. His politicization of the courts and law enforcement has eliminated any pretext of rule of law—a prerequisite for private investment and business development. Apparently, Putin believes the economy is less important than the ability to kill opponents like Boris Nemtsov and Alexei Navalny (who was recently transferred from prison to a hospital, reportedly near death)…
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"It is elementary geopolitics that if you think you are a rising power, you soft-pedal it. "
Are you sure that statement is true, and that China is a rising, vs risen power?
On a PPP base, China's GDP is now larger than the US GDP and within a few years will be larger on a nominal basis. Paul Kennedy's "The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers" suggested that war breaks out when the rising power's GDP is about equal to the established power's GDP. While the past history is no guarantee of the future and that this time it could really be different, we should at least entertain the idea that just maybe the past is relevant here.