The Weekend Edition
WHAT HAPPENED YESTERDAY?
Thursday was an exceptionally slow news day — at home and abroad. Only two domestic stories rose to the level of “worth bringing to your attention on the weekend.” In short order:
Farouk El-Okdah is back. A veteran of New York banking circles and governor of the Central Bank of Egypt from December 2003 until January 2013, El-Okdah was appointed yesterday by presidential decree to the Central Bank of Egypt Coordinating Committee. Also joining El-Okdah on the body, which ostensibly helps to coordinate monetary and fiscal policies, is asset manager-turned-prolific columnist Mohamed El-Erian. (Oh, and the USD was stable at the CBE’s auction yesterday, with USD 40 mn changing hands at EGP 7.73.) More on this front in Sunday’s edition.
We also have a new governor of the Central Bank of Egypt: Tarek Amer takes the helm today. It would be an understatement to say we’re looking forward to the coming weeks. Welcome back to public life, Mr. Amer.
Tawadros II becomes first Coptic pope to travel to Jerusalem since 1832. The Coptic patriarch ostensibly made the visit to attend the funeral of Anba Abraham, who headed the Coptic Church in the Holy Land. Abraham died on Wednesday. The visit comes after the late Pope Shenouda III banned the Coptic pilgrimage to Jerusalem. While the international press is playing it down the middle (see examples from Associated Press and AFP), the Israeli press notes (rather accurately, we suspect) that it will open a floodgate of Copts wanting to make the trek. The Jerusalem Post has the best story we’ve seen this morning on what the visit means, quoting figures including the noted analyst Samuel Tadros: “While the Church will attempt to portray the Tawadros visit as different from the pilgrimage, no one will buy that line. The pope must have known clearly that he will pay a political price for his visit, but as he has shown since he became pope in 2012, once he is convinced of the soundness of a decision, he takes it disregarding the political costs.”
SPEED ROUND, THE WEEKEND EDITION
Forget the Tate Modern and the Guggenheim, Tehran could become contemporary art lovers’ next destination: Bloomberg’s Peter Waldman and Golnar Motevalli took a trip to the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art in Iran, a place they describe as holding “one of the finest—if forgotten—collections of 20th century art in the world.” Like most contemporary arts galleries in the Middle East, Tehran’s is a ghost town, but with a USD 1.5 ticket, Waldman and Motevalli got to see Jackson Pollock’s Mural on Indian Red Ground, which was valued by auction house Christie’s at USD 250 mn. Along with describing the artwork at the Tehran Museum, Waldman and Motevalli also tell the story behind how the museum got to acquire (and fight to keep) its artworks. Having gone into the museum’s vaults, they also found more treasures with “about a dozen Jasper Johnses and Robert Rauschenbergs each and at least 15 Warhols. Among them is a Warhol Mick Jagger, a Marilyn Monroe, and a series of 10 Maos. Most valuable is his 1963 acrylic of a man jumping off a building, called Suicide (Purple Jumping Man).” The museum’s vault also “holds a small treasure trove of artwork that Iranians will never see, at least while the current regime is in charge. It includes nudes by Pablo Picasso and Edvard Munch” as well as Francis Bacon’s 1968 triptych, Two Figures Lying on a Bed With Attendants.
The Chinese are building the world’s largest “cloning factory” to copy everything from dogs, cattle, primates, and other animals, Quartz writes. Boyalife Group, a Chinese cloning company is building the factory that will include a cloning production line, a cloned animal centre, a gene bank, and a science and education exhibition hall in the city of Tianjin. First in line are Japanese cows. Producing Wagyu cattle is expected in 2016 (because who wouldn’t love more, cheaper Kobe beef?). A bit more on the creepy side, Boyalife will also offer pet owners the chance to clone their favourite pets for a USD 100k fee and a sample of the pet’s tissue, with the caveat that there’s no guarantee that the pets can perform as well as the original ones in special tasks or even behave similarly.
“No, honey, I’m not being mean to my co-workers. I’m just synergizing creativity.” At a publication fuelled by caffeine and sarcasm, we took heart from recent research that suggests “there may also be some unexpected benefits from sarcasm: greater creativity. The use of sarcasm, in fact, promotes creativity for those on both the giving and receiving end of sarcastic exchanges. Instead of avoiding sarcasm completely in the office, the research suggests sarcasm, used with care and in moderation, can be effectively used and trigger some creative sparks.” The authors of this particular piece of research break their work down into layman’s terms in Scientific American.
Emerging markets have had a lousy year on the back of low commodity prices, a stronger USD, anticipation of a U.S. Fed rate hike, and slowing growth in China, but a number of analysts believe things might be improving. The BRICS Post notes that analysts from JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, UBS Securities, Bank of America, and Barclays have all predicted better economic growth in the coming quarters. Why? In part because European Central Bank (ECB) Chief Mario Draghi hinted at expanding the Eurozone’s stimulus program and / or extending it beyond the original deadline of September 2016. An ECB vote on 3 December jack up its bond-buying activities will increase the probability that ‘extra cash’ will be re-injected into emerging markets such as Mexico, Turkey, Egypt, India, China and Russia.
Is Saudi changing its tune on oil? A year ago, Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al Naimi was adamant that the kingdom would no longer prop up the global oil market, turning production on an off to keep a barrel north of USD 100 for the benefit of higher-cost rivals. KSA would stick to is guns even if oil hit USD 20 per barrel, he said. Today, the Financial Times notes, that tune may be changing: “A year on, as Opec ministers prepare to meet next week with oil languishing near $45 a barrel, senior Saudi officials have a different message. In recent weeks, in public forums and private briefings, they have emphasized the dangers of future supply shortages as the oil industry has slashed investment in new projects. Behind closed doors they say they want prices to stabilize between USD 60 and USD 80 a barrel.”
Why are engineers, in particular, more likely to become fundamentalist terrorists? Researchers Diego Gambetta and Steffen Hertog gathered data on individuals belonging to a variety of terrorist groups and found a “compelling pattern.” Engineers are much more prone to become members of violent terrorist organizations. “More than twice as many members of violent Islamist organizations have engineering degrees as have degrees in Islamic studies. Nearly half of those terrorists who had degrees had degrees in engineering. Even if you make extremely generous assumptions, nine times as many terrorists were engineers as you would expect by chance.” Gambetta and Hertog argue that the notion that terrorist groups recruit engineers specifically because of their technical skills is false; the organizations recruit those who seem trustworthy. They also refuse that this is a social network effect. What drives engineers towards violence extremism then? Suggestive data shows it is “because of the way that they think about the world.” Engineers are seven times as likely to be both religious and conservative as social scientists and, as the researchers speculate, combine these political predilections with a marked preference towards finding clear-cut answers. So, the difficulty in realizing ambitions for good and socially valued jobs tends to sway engineers towards extremism. However, even if all Gambetta and Hertog’s arguments hold, “only a tiny, tiny minority of engineers are likely to become radicalized terrorists.”
Fast Company’s 20 predictions for the coming 20 years are definitely worth a read this morning, whether you’re a business owner or a corporate chieftain. “They are predictions and, as such, are fraught with limitation and supposition. None of them, on their own, is shocking. That is by design. In combination, though, they outline a world of tomorrow where work is still personal, computing is still social, and knowledge is still power. And where the rules for success will be ever-changing.”
It was 100 one hundred years ago that Albert Einstein presented his freshly finished general theory of relativity to the Prussian Academy of Sciences following decades of work. In memory of that achievement, The Economist Explains blog presented a brief primer on relativity. “Generally, it is about gravity… His flash of insight was to fuse the three dimensions of space with that of time and create a single, mutable whole: spacetime… Einstein’s great insight this time was that it is an effect of mass actually stretching spacetime, creating a kind of dip into which objects fell, or circled, as around a plughole. Matter is not pulled by gravity, it falls along the path of least resistance, tracing out the shape of spacetime itself.” So, why exactly is Einstein famous? Part of his fame is because Einstein’s earliest achievement, the 1905 special theory of relativity, seemed to have come out of the blue, without any prior achievement, Einstein biographer Andrew Robinson writes. “A further reason for Einstein’s fame is that he was active in many areas far afield from physics, notably politics and religion… Such a combination of solitary brilliance, personal integrity, and public activism is rare among intellectuals. When one adds Einstein’s lifelong gift for witty aphorism when dealing with the press and the public, his unique and enduring fame no longer seems so puzzling.”
The coolest spy you’ve never heard of: If you grew up on Hogan’s Heroes, Cornelius Ryan’s “The Longest Day” (the book, not the movie) and appreciate a Cold War “yarn” such as The Hunt for Red October as much as did Ronald Reagan, this Associated Press profile of Hugh Montgomery is a must-read: “He jumped into Normandy, ran spies in Moscow, retired at 90”
Speaking of Cornelius Ryan, journalism junkies and history buffs alike will want to check out the Columbia Journalism Review’s “The Reporter Whom Time Forgot: How Cornelius Ryan’s The Longest Day changed journalism.” It would help to have read The Longest Day — Ryan’s best-known work — but even without it, the piece reminds us that the itinerant Irish scribe was the true father of the “New Journalism” of the late 1960s and early 1970s popularized by Esquire, Hunter S. Thompson, Gay Talese and Joan Didion. What’s the “New Journalism?” Non-fiction writing that calls on literary techniques to make the storytelling amazing. The term was made popular by an anthology co-edited by Wolfe in 1973. Also worth reading: The website for “The New New Journalism” and just about any long-form story Esquire has run since about 1965.
If yours is a family-owned business, you’ll want to make yourself a nice cup of coffee or tea and then read — and re-read — the Wall Street Journal’s “How to Keep a Family Business Alive for Generations.” The authors — business profs in Montreal, Florida and London — “studied 21 family-owned wineries in Germany that were ready to make a generational transition. The average winery was founded 11 generations ago in the 18th century, and the oldest started passing the torch 33 generations ago in the 10th.” For the Journal, two of the authors boil their research down to this: “Five factors distinguish the very entrepreneurial families from the ones that were following a well-trodden path.” If you want to hand your business on rather than sell it, give it a read. Not a subscriber? Depending on where you live, you should be able to read it without signing up if you were stumble upon it via Google. Tap here to give it a shot and hit the first link that comes up.
Thinking you might want to try your hand at angel investing? Start with Calacanis’ Two Laws of Angel Investing: “It took me five years, but I’ve learned what the two most important factors are in the success of an angel investor. It’s not being smart, it’s not being diligent, and it’s certainly not being a visionary.” In sum:
- You don’t need to know if the idea will succeed — just the person.
- Your success is correlated to the amount of time you give to founders.
Not afraid of EtOH, traveling to (North) Amreeka soon, and looking to expand your palate? We would recommend reading Esquire’s “10 Rare Whiskeys Picked by a Whiskey Hunter” — even if they are bourbons. Or better still, head to Montreal after reading the latest in the New York Times’ latest installment in its 36 Hours series — and make sure the amazing Whisky Café is on your itinerary for its phenomenal collection of Scotch and Irish whiskeys as well as representative samples of small-batch stuff from across the planet. Need an introduction to whisky? Before going on to the more serious blogs, get a grounding courtesy Eater’s A Comprehensive Beginner’s Guide to Whiskey and then ease into the details with Serious Eats’ Guide to Single Malt Scotch or Guide to Blended Scotch Whisky or Guide to Irish Whiskey or Guide to Bourbon, as your tastebuds may direct. Next on our must-try list: Kilbeggan’s Connemara, for reasons both sentimental and for the fact of it being an example of a peated Irish.
The political aftermath of financial crises can be severe, with far-right parties usually being the biggest beneficiaries, researchers concluded. The effects are particular to financial crises, as they are not observed following normal recessions or severe non-financial macroeconomic shocks. The main political finding is that far-right votes increase by about a third within five years. This is coupled with having existing parliamentary majorities shrink and increased fragmentation. On the streets, the crises are often followed by a larger number of violent riots and demonstrations. The researchers found that these effects tended to persist for five years and then most effects taper out slowly from there. However, the problem is that “these developments likely hinder crisis resolution and contribute to political gridlock” resulting in policy uncertainty that is likely reflected in slow economic recoveries from financial crises.
The best take on José Alvarenga’s 14 months as a castaway on the Pacific ocean is the Guardian’s epic “Lost at sea: the man who vanished for 14 months,” an edited extract from the book by Jonathan Franklin. If you’ve ever feared loneliness, give it a read: “His hair was matted upwards like a shrub. His beard curled out in wild disarray. His ankles were swollen, his wrists tiny; he could barely walk. He refused to make eye contact and often hid his face. Salvador Alvarenga, a 36-year-old fisherman from El Salvador, had left the coast of Mexico in a small boat with a young crewmate 14 months earlier. Now he was being taken to Ebon Atoll, the southernmost tip of the Marshall Islands, and the closest town to where he had washed ashore. He was 6,700 miles from the place he had set out from. He had drifted for 438 days. Floating across the Pacific Ocean, watching the moon’s light ebb and flow for over a year, Alvarenga had battled loneliness, depression and bouts of suicidal thinking. But surviving in a vibrant world of wild animals, vivid hallucinations and extreme solitude did little to prepare him for the fact that he was about to become an international celebrity and an object of curiosity.
Accepting more refugees could make for good economics: “The biggest challenges in accommodating refugees are social and political, rather than economic,” John Cassidy writes for the New Yorker. Refugees are often not competing with natives for jobs, but rather take the ones locals do not want and they also set up businesses of their own and provide more customers for domestic enterprises. In the case of the U.S., Cassidy says “there isn’t any obvious reason why [Syrian refugees] couldn’t replicate the Vietnamese experience, or even surpass it.”
…On a separate issue, the Pfizer-Allegran merger left Cassidy fuming. Calling it a disgrace, John Cassidy says it is the biggest tax-inversion pact yet, as Pfizer will use it to move its corporate domicile to Dublin, Ireland, where the tax rate is just 12.5% compared to 35% in the United States. “Drug companies like Pfizer have long benefitted from taxpayer-funded research carried out under the auspices of organizations like the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. Now, Pfizer is seeking to avoid paying the taxes that are due on its profits, particularly profits generated by its overseas subsidiaries.” He points his fingers at the company’s executives, as for Cassidy, “it’s hard to avoid seeing the merger proposal as a cynical move designed to boost Pfizer’s stock price and generate a windfall for the company’s senior managers, who are compensated mainly in equity.”
LISTEN TO THIS
Even the dead are feeling the pain of financial hardship in Greece. “They say you can’t take it with you but if you live in Greece how much money you have at the end of your life makes a big difference” is the main message of a BBC documentary. Permanent plots in the country’s cemeteries are full, so Greece now needs to reuse graves and is renting them for a three-year period. “Once that time is up the dead are exhumed and their bones collapsed into a small box to be kept at the cemetery.” Even grimmer, those who cannot afford that cost of exhumation or the storage charge will have the remains of their deceased relatives thrown in a “digestion pit,” were remains, along with others’, are dissolved with chemicals. Greece is the only country in Europe without a crematorium, so all the dead need to be buried. Part of the blame lies on the Greek Orthodox Church, which blocked attempts to build a crematorium, and now an increasing number of bodies lie unclaimed at morgues. Others ship their relatives’ remains to Bulgaria to be cremated. (Run time 26:43)
The impact of terrorism on economies is not uniform and is, surprisingly, is likely to be small. The Economist’s Money Talks podcast discussed the economic impact of terrorism with the main takeaway being that it depends on what the target is and where the country is – in particular, on how concentrated it the country’s economy is. Concerted terrorist campaigns like, similar to the IRA in Northern Ireland has an effect that differs from one-off attacks like the one in Paris and 9/11 that have a big short term impact then fade from memories, Philip Coggan tells host Stan Pignal. Away from western countries, “if you talk about the attacks in Egypt or the attacks in Tunisia, especially when they’re aimed at tourism, the effect on tourism is much more marked and can last several months, perhaps a year, perhaps longer.” Ultimately, the reaction after the attack is what sets the magnitude cost; “if the EU, for example, were to completely abolish Schengen … leading to long lines of trucks at each border [within Europe], that would have a significant effect on economic activity… Terrorists are quite keen to make us to do that kind of thing.” (Run time 12:51)
McKinsey & Company launched its new flagship podcast series recently. The podcast series is described as one that takes the listener inside McKinsey, featuring conversations with experts on the issues that matter most. The first three podcasts discuss the essentials of innovation, the future of energy, and gender equality. The most recent episode posits that gender equality in business would have numerous benefits ethically and economically. McKinsey Global Institute director Jonathan Woetzel discusses the steps government and business can take to encourage parity for women, drawing on the findings of a recent McKinsey Global Institute report. You can listen to the most recent episode here. (Run time 27:28)
SOMETHING THAT MADE US THINK
Not all banking activities should be rewarded with bonuses: The Economist writes commenting on Deutsche Bank’s Co-CEO John Cryan claims that “bonuses do not encourage bankers to work any harder.” Bankers often argue that bonus schemes are integral to attract and motivate the highly talented. Bonuses do work for simple, measurable tasks that are difficult to manipulate, The Economist says some tasks in banking, like selling equities or advising on takeovers, are like that. However, “offering bonuses to staff based on metrics over which they have limited control is problematic,” with repeated studies showing that “shareholder returns were no higher when management had incentive plans… no correlation between executive compensation and firm performance… bonuses in the financial sector were often unrelated to performance anyway.” The newspaper concedes that “Mr Cryan has a point when he says that paying bonuses can be nonsensical” but doubt that his peers would be on board.
This week’s throwback: Build a USD 1 mn business this weekend (with a Cairo tangent). That’s the premise of a 2011 blog post by the inimitable Tim Ferriss, who documented the process used by some Silicon Valley twenty-something to build the outlines for a couple of mn-USD businesses “in one weekend.” If you’ve often thought of binning the corporate day job and striking out on your own, this piece is a solid starting point. The Cairo tie-in: Ferriss was introduced to said twenty-something by “the prophetic and profane Dave McClure, General Partner of 500 Start-ups,” who as it happens will be in Cairo the weekend after next for RiseUp, the MENA region’s most exciting conference for entrepreneurs, taking place at the Greek Campus. (Registration information below, or tap here for the current lineup of speakers or here for the current agenda)
No-BS tips on how to be more productive: We’ve never been ones for listicles, whether of the BuzzFeed variety — or of the rictus-smile, cult-adherent-wanna type that have overrun Inc magazine’s website, which bears no resemblance to the excellent print edition. (Yes, digital natives though we may be, Inc is one property that’s vastly better pressed onto dead trees.) We hate the headline on this piece, but it’s still full of ideas worth giving a spin in your own daily routine. Among them:
12. Always set time aside to plan. People often complain about not having time to plan yet they always have time to fix their mistakes.
41. Stop random interruptions by applying the “15 minute rule”. On the hour for 15 minutes you are available for questions or conversation, then from quarter past the hour until the hour again you can work uninterrupted.
75. Don’t argue with an idiot, it just makes two of you and wastes your time
77. Throughout your day set up a couple of “sprint sessions”. These are high focus, high intensity sessions where you focus on just one major task, after which you have a short rest before moving onto the next task.
On that last one, as we’ve mentioned before, we’re fans of the “Pomodoro” system. At its simplest: Block out 25 minutes to focus on a single task. Visit the washroom, pour your coffee and then set a time — and set to work. Don’t answer phone calls, emails or your staff at the door. Nothing. Just work. Take a five-minute break. Repeat as many times as you can during the workday.
- 12-13 December: RiseUp Summit 2015: The largest and most significant event for startups in Egypt of the year, held at the Greek Campus in downtown Cairo. A who’s who of both experienced startup types and wannabes as well as top regional and global investors and industry players will be on hand. (Register here)
Devices running software older than Android 5.0 (Lollipop) “can easily be remotely reset by Google if compelled by a court order,” bypassing users’ passcodes. Newer devices have full disk encryption and are protected however. According to TNW News, this means that 74.1% of devices are still using a version of Android that can be remotely accessed at any time. iPhone user fare better as any device running on iOS 8 or higher cannot have its passcode bypassed as full disk encryption is enabled by default. Want to enable full disk encryption on your Android? Go on the “’security’ or ‘storage’ sections of the settings, though it does vary by manufacturer. It will slow your hardware down a little, though.”
Anyone want to join us on a petition asking Raouf Ghabbour to import the 2016 Mazda Miata MX-5? Given it’s unlikely to make it anywhere near the top of the Central Bank of Egypt’s priority list for FX allocations, the new Mazda MX-5 will be the next car we rent outside Egypt. But with a 1.5 L engine and a bargain price tag in Europe as in America, it’s probably the best value-for-money of any roadster out there today. Little wonder the 2016 edition is getting rave reviews from the international auto press: The tight, low-slung body got tighter, lower-slung and a bit shorter — a throwback to the 1990 model that will make you “giggle as you throw it into curves and smirk as you whip around slowpoke drivers,” Bloomberg says. “The 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata has the same playful mien, the same whip-tight body, and the same toy-like dimensions as earlier models,” the site notes. (Also worth checking out: Its ‘photo essay’ on the Miata over the years.)
Car and Driver adds: “The company’s focus on the driver that we lauded in the Mazda 3 has now been implemented in the Miata. So the heavy but smooth shifter is ideally positioned, while the narrowly spaced pedals are perfectly aligned underneath the thin, small-diameter wheel. Performance notwithstanding, the MX-5 is an extremely rewarding car to drive just in the manipulation of its controls.”
Calling it “the car that, 25 years ago, made motoring fun again,” Top Gear says: “Mazda has lasered in on the really important things with the new MX-5. Important things like the driving. And, oh boy, is it good. We know what you’re thinking, “it’s only got a 1.5-litre engine with 129bhp, it hasn’t got enough power to get out of its own way”. But in a car that weighs less than a tonne, we promise you that’s enough. The SKYACTIV-G engine is torquey, sounds great and is well matched to the chassis. Which is a honey. It dances along difficult roads…”
The first production cars with Apple’s CarPlay are out, and the dashboard technology is getting solid reviews. Says Business Insider: “Siri on CarPlay, however, is brilliant. It’s like having K.I.T.T. or J.A.R.V.I.S. or the computer from ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ installed in your dashboard. You speak simple voice commands, like ‘Send a text’ or ‘Find me a Starbucks’ and Siri responds. It reads your texts and reads them mellifluously. Its machine brain understands your human diction — better, it seems, in a car.” General Motors, it notes, will make CarPlay available on most of its 2016 lineup. Not yet out: Google’s Android Auto, also expected next year.
How do banks single out single fraudulent purchases? The Conversation’s Jungwoo Ryoo explains that credit card holders in the U.S. have a maximum liability of USD 50 for unauthorized transactions according to the federal Fair Credit Billing Act. To put that into perspective, USD 26.2 bn in purchases were made using credit cards in 2012, of which USD 6.1 bn were unauthorized. Gone are the days of manual data analysis, and in their place stepped in machine learning and cloud computing. In simple terms, self-improving algorithms, that start with a model and are then trained through trial and error. “A person may typically pump gas one time a week, go grocery shopping every two weeks and so on. The algorithm learns that this is a normal transaction sequence.” By considering factors of the transaction like trustworthiness of vendor, cardholder’s purchasing behaviour, IP address, the algorithm is then capable of making just-in-time or real-time fraud detection.
THE WEEK’S MOST-CLICKED STORIES
The most-clicked stories in Enterprise in the past week were:
- Best description of Paris attackers, #1 (French Senator Nathalie Goulet shocks CNN’s Christiane Amanpour) (CNN Commentary)
- Best description of Paris attackers, #2 (John Oliver; parental discretion advised) (Youtube)
- Image: Princess Fawzia Fuad of Egypt, who became Queen of Iran (Imgur)
- 2015 Global Terrorism Index
- Skretting expands tilapia fish feed capacity in Egypt (noting Egypt is the second-largest producer of the fish globally) (AllAboutFeed)
- Letter from Saudi Arabia (Thomas Friedman in the New York Times)
- Goldman Sachs’ 10 investment themes for world markets in 2016 and six best ways to trade the world in 2016 (tie, Business Insider)
ON YOUR WAY OUT
Should free speech be regulated? Cass Sunstein, fairly controversially, thinks there should be limits to free speech. Sunstein writes in his Bloomberg View column saying “the danger to free speech” could be minimised if the following rule is adopted: “If (and only if) people are explicitly inciting violence, perhaps their speech doesn’t deserve protection when (and only when) it produces a genuine risk to public safety, whether imminent or not. That approach would essentially retain the high level of protection that is now given to political speech and dissent of all kinds.”
Ever find yourself forgetting the name of the person you just met mid-conversation? There’s a reason why you can meet a person and have a conversation with them, remember almost all of the details of said conversation, but forget their name. To understand why, BBC’s Tom Stafford explains that memory works less like a simple filing system, and more like an association game. When somebody tells you a story, the different parts of the story become associated with each other, that’s why you can recall more of the story, but “names float around our memory arbitrarily like an anchor-less ship, without other associations to hold them down.”
International economic policy coordination often leads to trouble, Harvard economist Jeffrey Frankel writes. After a 30-year hiatus, international coordination of macroeconomic policy seems to be back on policymakers’ agendas, and while regularly meeting can be useful, calls for coordination might not. This is particularly the case “when the aim is to blame foreigners in order to distract attention from domestic constraints and disagreements.” Instead, Frankel suggests that “officials would often be better advised to improve their own policies, before they tell others what to do. Otherwise, calls for international cooperation may do more harm than good.”
Excavating the Dustbin of Modern Egyptian History: Have you recently taken an unhealthy interest in “historical waste” or events that only the most hipster of historians might have heard of? The blog Footnotes and Unhistories features posts by a researcher by the pen name Hadra, taking the name of an Egyptian peasant woman, who in 1911 ” led a revolt against a landowner in the village of Shubra Khalfur in al-Minufiyya … Two peasants died during the protests. Hadra, however, didn’t make it into any account of history. She’s been cast aside, thrown into the dumpster of unhistory. Many stories get cast aside, or less viciously footnoted.” The blog also features a large collection of early Egyptian political cartoons.