5 insightful op-eds or articles to help make sense of today’s world

Robert Shiller, “Booming Until It Hurts”
(Project Syndicate, July 15, 2014)
The author of “Irrational Exuberance” discusses the concerns among the world’s financial experts and in the media that asset markets – real estate, equities, and long-term bonds – are overheating. This could potentially lead to a major correction and another economic crisis. Nobody can prove in an incontrovertible manner that there is cause for concern, but warning about booms are always “healthy” as they help markers self-correct.

Mohamed El-Erian, “Investors Beware: Economists At Large”
(Financial Times, July 14, 2014 – metered paywall)
The chair of President Obama’s Global Development Council worries that economists are not very helpful in offering predictions on two key issues that support equity prices’ current valuations: (1) productivity trends and (2) the effectiveness of macro-prudential policies. The Fed is in no rush “to take the punch bowl away” because of its assumptions on these two key issues, but these are just hypotheses that may be proven wrong. The bottom line: the analytical underpinnings of the current phase of risk taking in financial markets are far from robust.

Kishore Mahbubani, “Helping China’s Doves”
(the New York Times, July 17, 2014 – metered paywall)
The dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, usually a bullish proponent of Asia’s peaceful rise, warns about young officers (the “hawks”) of the People’s Liberation Army who may be leading China on a collision course with the US. He argues that we should encourage the leadership (composed mainly by “doves”) to focus on domestic problems, and prevail in the internal debate over China’s geopolitical role.

Steve Levine, “We live in exceptionally turbulent times—and will for another decade or more”
(Quartz, July 11, 2014)
This short article makes a very simple point: oil prices will remain elevated and volatile for years to come because supply shocks in the Middle East and the surge of local disruptions in oil-producing regions around the world are here to stay. This level of collective commotion will last at least 10 years, and perhaps longer.

Javier Marias, “Seven Reasons Not to Write Novels
and Only One Reason to Write Them”
(The Three Penny Review, Summer 2014)
One of Spain’s foremost contemporary novelists offers seven reasons not to write novels, all overridden by one powerful one to do so. Humorous and, at times, insightful.