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Posts Tagged ‘Geo Files

Government, Geography, and Growth

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The True Drivers of Economic Development

According to the economist Daron Acemoglu and the political scientist James Robinson, economic development hinges on a single factor: a country’s political institutions. More specifically, as they explain in their new book, Why Nations Fail, it depends on the existence of “inclusive” political institutions, defined as pluralistic systems that protect individual rights. These, in turn, give rise to inclusive economic institutions, which secure private property and encourage entrepreneurship. The long-term result is higher incomes and improved human welfare.

What Acemoglu and Robinson call “extractive” political institutions, in contrast, place power in the hands of a few and beget extractive economic institutions, which feature unfair regulations and high barriers to entry into markets. Designed to enrich a small elite, these institutions inhibit economic progress for everyone else. The broad hypothesis of Why Nations Fail is that governments that protect property rights and represent their people preside over economic development, whereas those that do not suffer from economies that stagnate or decline. Although “most social scientists shun monocausal, simple, and broadly applicable theories,” Acemoglu and Robinson write, they themselves have chosen just such a “simple theory and used it to explain the main contours of economic and political development around the world since the Neolithic Revolution.” Read the rest of this entry »


Written by Theophyle

October 10, 2012 at 12:45 pm

NYT: The New World

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By Frank Jacobs and Parag Khanna

IT has been just over 20 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the last great additions to the world’s list of independent nations. As Russia’s satellite republics staggered onto the global stage, one could be forgiven for thinking that this was it: the end of history, the final major release of static energy in a system now moving very close to equilibrium. A few have joined the club since — Eritrea, East Timor, the former Yugoslavian states, among others — but by the beginning of the 21st century, the world map seemed pretty much complete.

Now, though, we appear on the brink of yet another nation-state baby boom. This time, the new countries will not be the product of a single political change or conflict, as was the post-Soviet proliferation, nor will they be confined to a specific region. If anything, they are linked by a single, undeniable fact: history chews up borders with the same purposeless determination that geology does, as seaside villas slide off eroding coastal cliffs. Here is a map of what could possibly be the world’s newest international borders. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Theophyle

September 29, 2012 at 8:36 am

Foreign Affairs: The Turkish Paradox

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By: Michael J. Koplow and Steven A. Cook

The Halki seminary, founded in 1844 as a center of learning for the Orthodox Eastern Church, was for decades a symbol of religious toleration and minority rights in the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Republic. But in 1971, Ankara closed the seminary when the constitutional court, dominated by adherents of Kemalism, the secular ideology of the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, ruled that only the army was allowed to run nonstate-supervised private colleges. So in March, when Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that the Halki seminary would be restored and reopened, it seemed that the Justice and Development Party (AKP), the country’s ruling faction since 2002, was furthering its reformist agenda of making Turkey a more open society by expanding personal, religious, and economic freedoms. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Theophyle

June 29, 2012 at 8:52 am

Geo Files: Thousands celebrate the summer solstice at Stonehenge

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People raise their hands in meditation during the summer solstice, shortly after 4:52 a.m. at Stonehenge, in Salisbury, England. Modern-day druids, pagans and partygoers crammed into the mystic stone circle to cheer, bang drums and shake tambourines in an effort to greet the sun on the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. Stonehenge, on the Salisbury Plain, about 80 miles southwest of London, was built over three phases between 3000 B.C. and 1600 B.C. It is one of Britain’s most popular tourist attractions, with more than 750,000 visitors every year. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Theophyle

June 22, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Geo Files: After Many Leaders, Japan Still Hopes for Recovery

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TOKYO — Just a week into office, Japan’s new prime minister, Naoto Kan, has already broken with politics as usual here by making unusually frank warnings about the nation’s growing social inequalities, unsustainable national debt and need for painful tax increases. The question now is whether Mr. Kan, a plain-spoken former civic activist, can further defy precedent by lasting more than a year in office.  He seems off to a good start. Japan’s recession-weary voters have already embraced his tough talk, giving his governing Democratic Party a larger-than-expected bounce in the polls. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Theophyle

June 15, 2010 at 8:30 am