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

Jim O’Neill, “Will the Calm in Global Markets Last?”
(Bloomberg View, August 19, 2014)
Goldman’s Sachs former chief economist thinks that the current “peculiar calm” that prevails in the markets – with equities, commodities, foreign exchange and interest rates all pretty flat – presents challenges. He attributes the calmness to a combination of remarkably loose monetary policy and the absence of rising inflationary pressure anywhere. He argues that the calm can only last as long as the optimism about the US economy prevails – a big “if” in his opinion.

Michael Heise, “A European Lost Decade?”
(Project Syndicate, August 23, 2014)
Allianz’ chief economist ponders whether the Eurozone will go down the same route as Japan – years of economic stagnation and deflation. He essentially argues that this can still be avoided if genuine structural reforms are implemented across the Eurozone. Contrary to the consensus, he thinks that prolonged monetary accommodation with near-zero rates is not the solution as it “enables banks to delay any serious effort to clean up their balance sheets”.

Adam Garfinkle, “What’s Going On?”
(The National Interest, August 21, 2014)
This is an ambitious (and longish) article by the editor of the National Interest, looking at what’s going on in the world and whether it will become a better place or not. He considers three levels of causality: (1) the sources of insecurity and violence; (2) the modalities of conflict; and (3) the enablers and shapers of warfare. One of his important conclusions: “Today the prospect of war among the great powers is probably lower than it has been since the advent of modern times”.

John Kay, “No universal law predicts the outcome of disruptive innovation”
(John Kay’s Blog, August 20, 2014)
This is a reprint of an op-ed in the Financial Times, in which the economist discusses the “innovators’ dilemma”, and the “vitriolic” debate between Professor Christensen (the “father” of disruptive innovation) and Jill Lepore (a historian at Harvard). He concludes that there is no law that can predict the outcome of disruptive innovation and that “both (academics) suffer the tendency to overstatement that is common to all disruptive writing”.

Leo Mirani, “What it feels like to be the last generation to remember life before the Internet”
(Quartz, August 21, 2014)
A short review of Michael Harris’ “The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We’ve Lost in a World of Constant Connection,” a new book about how technology affects society. Instead of investigating the effects of constant connectivity on human behaviour, Harris looks at people born before 1985 – a dying breed who knows what life is like both with the internet and without; and the very opposite of the “millennial” demographic coveted by advertisers and targeted by new media outlets.