Peter Coy

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The Woman in Charge of Saving Turkey’s Economy

When all hope is lost, hire a woman to take over (and take blame). Studies of the so-called glass cliff have found that companies are more likely to bring women on as chief executives or directors when business is bad. Linda Yaccarino, the new chief executive of the foundering Twitter, seems to fill the bill.

Now there’s Hafize Gaye Erkan, a former Wall Street banker who has been named the new central bank governor of Turkey. It’s the cliffiest of all glass cliffs. Brad Setser, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote in a blog post last week that thanks to years of bad policies, Turkey faces “what appears to be an imminent financial crisis”.…  Seguir leyendo »

To See One of A.I.’s Greatest Dangers, Look to the Military

Rogue artificial intelligence versus humankind is a common theme in science fiction. It could happen, I suppose. But a more imminent threat is human beings versus human beings, with A.I. used as a lethal weapon by both sides. That threat is growing rapidly because there is an international arms race in militarized A.I.

What makes an arms race in artificial intelligence so frightening is that it shrinks the role of human judgment. Chess programs that are instructed to move fast can complete a game against each other in seconds; artificial intelligence systems reading each other’s moves could go from peace to war just as quickly.…  Seguir leyendo »

What Comes After a World’s First in Fusion Research

As soon as Kim Budil, the director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, said on Tuesday that cheap, abundant electricity from nuclear fusion is still “probably decades” away, some people lost interest in the news that her lab had achieved a world’s first in fusion research. We earthlings can’t wait decades for a solution to climate change.

There are three reasons to pay attention. One, commercialization of fusion could happen sooner than Budil thinks if enough people get behind it. Two, fusion is a controlled version of what happens inside a nuclear warhead, so it can be used to test computer-aided designs for nuclear weapons.…  Seguir leyendo »

Xi Jinping Is the Second Coming of Mao Zedong

China’s leader, Xi Jinping, is surely the greatest person alive today, at least if one takes seriously the coverage by China’s official news service, Xinhua. Its website has a channel called Xi’s Time that is devoted to extolling him. A few headlines: “Xi Jinping — Champion of Disabled Rights, Prospects”, “Xi Jinping’s Bond With a Tibetan Village” and “Xi Jinping and His Loving Care for China’s Giant Pandas Overseas”.

Xi controls Xinhua, so essentially, he is looking in the mirror and praising his own magnificence. To most people living in democratic nations (though perhaps not all), such self-promotion seems ridiculous and self-defeating.…  Seguir leyendo »

Putin’s Failure to Hold on to the Educated Could Be the World’s Gain

Since Russia’s war on Ukraine began, press reports have focused on the exodus from Russia of antiwar scientists, engineers and information technology experts. But the vast majority of the Russian people are staying put, and actually rallying behind President Vladimir Putin.

According to Levada, Russia’s most respected independent pollster, the share of all Russians who said they would like to relocate outside of Russia fell in late March to 10 percent from an average of 19 percent in three earlier polls since 2019.

Even among people with higher education, the percentage who would like to relocate was the same, 10 percent, according to a spreadsheet that Levada sent me.…  Seguir leyendo »

Will Robots Really Destroy the Future of Work?

Some people on the political right love robots and hate labor unions. Some people on the political left are the opposite: They hate robots and love labor unions. Then there’s David Autor, a labor economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He loves both.

Automation will destroy some jobs but also make workers who aren’t displaced more productive, raise overall incomes and create new kinds of jobs, says Autor, who has done pioneering work on the impact of tech and trade on blue-collar workers. Labor unions, which have been beaten down, can help ensure that the gains from automation don’t accrue only to the wealthy and that the new jobs workers move into are good and well-paying, he says.…  Seguir leyendo »

What Economists Think About Immigration Doesn’t Really Matter

Labor shortages in the United States have led to renewed calls to increase immigration to enlarge the work force. (Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa shortage.) “Even if it’s just temporary workers, immigration is a really, really effective tool to make sure you have people in open jobs who can produce,” Laura Collins, director of the Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative, told me recently.

That’s reigniting the long-running argument over whether immigration is a net benefit to the U.S. economy and various groups of Americans. On the “yes” or “mostly yes” side are economists such as David Card of the University of California, Berkeley, an immigrant from Canada who shared the Nobel in economic science this year for his work on immigration and minimum wages, among other topics.…  Seguir leyendo »

South Africa Deserves a Big, Fat Prize

South Africa is paying a heavy price for its good deed of telling the world about the Omicron variant of the virus that causes Covid-19. Many countries, including Britain and the United States, are restricting air travel to and from the nation. That will do more damage to an economy already weakened by the pandemic.

We are setting a bad precedent. In the future, dangerous new variants of the virus could spread farther if countries hide evidence of them — or simply don’t search very hard for them — to avoid the economic repercussions.

What’s the solution? One possibility is to minimize the harm to South Africa by refraining from placing travel bans on it and other nations in southern Africa.…  Seguir leyendo »

Por qué los colombianos están unidos a favor de la reforma agraria

Esta semana, durante la visita a Colombia del secretario de Estado de Estados Unidos, Antony Blinken, el tema de la reforma agraria fue una prioridad en la agenda. El hecho de que los agricultores no tengan títulos de propiedad de sus tierras en muchas de las zonas rurales de Colombia es un factor importante, aunque invisible, que contribuye a dos de los mayores problemas del país: el cultivo ilegal de coca —la base de la cocaína— y la fuerza perdurable de los movimientos guerrilleros, incluidas letales facciones disidentes de las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (Farc). El gobierno prometió una “reforma rural integral” en el primer capítulo de su acuerdo de paz final con las Farc en 2016, pero aún le falta mucho por hacer para poder decir que cumplió esa promesa.…  Seguir leyendo »

How African Countries Can Overcome the ‘Resource Curse’

Africa is home to eight of the world’s 15 least-diversified economies, according to an International Monetary Fund analysis of the export composition of countries as of 2014. The African eight are Algeria, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Libya and Nigeria (oil), Botswana (diamonds) and Eritrea (livestock).

Such narrowness isn’t a problem in classical economic theory. David Ricardo, the great British economist, said two centuries ago that countries should specialize in producing what they’re best at and import everything else from other countries.

In reality, though, specialization can be disastrous if what your country specializes in is a raw commodity, particularly oil or minerals.…  Seguir leyendo »