Selasa, 14 Januari 2014

WEEKEND READING: 21-22 DECEMBER


  1. Reporters without Borders have published their 2013 World Press Freedom Index report. Greece is in freefall, sandwiched between Kosovo and Togo at 84th place, down from 70th last year. Reporters without Borders' mini-site on Greece is dated, but interesting nonetheless.
  2. A new paper by IMF researchers measures different countries' efforts to bring in tax revenue. Greece ranked high by global standards in 2011 (higher than, say, Canada) but lower than most core EU countries. Once again, revenues in excess of 43% of GDP turn out to be impossible. Note the similarity in estimates of maximum revenue between the paper I review here (42.7%) and this paper (42.4%), even though the methodologies are completely different. 
  3. On that same topic, the OECD releases its latest figures on tax revenues in the OECD countries, noting Greece's 'progress' in increasing revenue.
  4. The World Bank's researchers continue to plug away at the issue of global income inequality with a new paper. This one finds that the change in global income distribution since the 80s is essentially a swap of income between Western middle classes and Asian middle-classes. Presumably if Africa should ever get its act together we'll have another round of this.The paper also finds that, after accounting for the rising incomes of the super-rich (which are largely missing from household surveys and must be extrapolated from power laws), global inequality has remained almost unchanged since the 80s.
  5. The IMF's researchers are doing a Naomi Klein tribute this week, first with a paper that links income inequality and financial instability, and then with a paper on the redistributive aspects of financial regulation.
  6. But the opposite is also true: a very good research piece has also come out this week revisiting the Reinhart & Rogoff debate with what I think is amazing rigour; the authors find what they call 'tentantive' evidence that debt slows down long-term growth, but also find that it's pointless to expect a single threshold to signal the onset of debt overhang across all countries, and that the relationship between debt and growth is non-linear across countries, though probably linear within countries.
  7. Still with the IMF - this new paper suggests that countries can usually only sustain massive public debt loads because if their reliance on 'real money investors': central banks (foreign and domestic) and domestic non-financials, presumably including households. 
  8. Somewhere in a parallel universe, the UK Office for National Statistics explains the rationale behind the reclassification of Network Rail as a Central Government Entity, and the head of the agency is not accused of treason by illiterate trolls. Sigh.