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

Mohamed El-Erian, “What to Do About the Jobs-Growth Conundrum”
(Bloomberg View, July 22, 2014)
Allianz’s chief economic adviser looks at one of today’s greatest economic conundrums: why has the US unemployment rate fallen much faster this year than it should given the slow underlying pace of economic growth? There are three possible explanations, two benign and one more troubling, having to do with a combination of cyclical and secular headwinds that could erode the US economy’s ability to grow.

Adair Turner, “The Trade Delusion”
(Project Syndicate, July 18, 2014)
Lord Turner explains why global trade as a share of GDP is declining and likely to continue to do so. However, he points out that this decline should not necessarily have adverse consequences for global economic growth. The main reason is that rising productivity does not require a relentless increase in trade intensity.

Danny Vinik, “Larry Summers: The Economy Hasn’t Grown Rapidly in a Financially Sustainable Way For a Long Time”
(The New Republic, July 23, 2014)
This is a condensed interview, in which the Harvard Professor and Clinton’s former Treasury Secretary elaborates about the economic themes that, in his opinion, matter the most. In particular, he discusses the possibility of a new secular stagnation (the idea that it may be very difficult for investment to absorb all saving), and the risk that state-driven mercantilism poses to open market capitalism.

Ben Judah, “Behind the Scenes in Putin’s Court: The Private Habits of a Latter-Day Dictator”
(Newsweek, July 23, 2014)
This article – an example of so-called “new journalism” that uses the techniques of fiction to relay facts – is based on hundreds of interviews conducted with people who interact with Putin. It contains some insightful peeks into the private life of Russia’s President, characterized by a sense of remoteness and isolation. As the author says: “There are no stories of extravagance: only of loneliness.”

Joe Pinsker, “Powerful People Have a Distorted Perception of Time”
(The Atlantic, July 24, 2014)
New research examines how the perception of time can be distorted by being in a position of power. In what may seem counter-intuitive, it reveals that the more power people have, the more time they feel they have available in their lives.