Monday, March 22, 2010

Happy World Water Day!

A message from friends at Replyforall here!

Target 7c of the Millenium Development Goals reads:
"Reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation."

Let's focus on the "safe drinking water" bit.

Some statistics:
Only about 2.5% of the Earth's water is fresh water (for ~6 billion people)
An average American uses 150 gallons of water each day, while a person in the developing world struggles to find 5 gallons.
Over one billion people still use unsafe water sources.
The highest numbers of people without access to clean water are in Asia.
Unsafe water kills more people than all forms of violence combined, including war.
[factoids from WHO, unicef - read more to see why water's so important]

My friend, Nami, who has guestblogged before, wrote a great blog post for 1Sky a few summers ago.  I remember it well not only because it was a great post, but because some a-hole left a nasty comment (to which I posted a nasty response in return).

Anyway, one effect of climate change is that it will make people thirstier.  As if to slap us all in the face, another effect of climate change is that fresh water supplies will decrease as sea levels rise. Fresh water will more likely fall as rain rather than snow making it harder to collect (spring snowmelt won't be a reliable source if there's not enough snow). Fresh water levels will also decrease as evapotranspiration losses increase.

So, how can we avoid disaster?!
Obviously, we all need to conserve. 100 ways to conserve here.
Becker and Posner had a blogpost about economic responses here.
And of course, a blog that I've mentioned in the past: Aguanomics!

Anyway, that's all for tonight kids. I am amazed by those who can blog so often. I don't have the discipline. I'm always getting caught up in real life...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Obama's Speech (Healthcare)

From last night.

A History of Overhauling Health Care. (NYT)

A Piece of Land's Only a Piece of Land...

I hope everyone had a great St. Patrick's Day.  (I know, this is like a week late) I somehow remembered Pi Day (3.14) but forgot about St. Patrick's Day this year...must be because I'm no longer in Boston.

I was listening to this song on David Ford's new album and it seemed appropriate.  It's about Stephen Carroll, the Irish policeman who was murdered by dissident republicans.  "A piece of land's only a piece of land" is from an interview of his sad.

by: David Ford

Stephen, the flag's at half-mast at the station
There's a cloud hanging over this town
The wind blows apologies; the sun looks ashamed
As it hides out behind Portadown

And out there are children still raised on old anger
Who believe there's reason to fight
A piece of land's only a piece of land
And you will not come home tonight

Stephen, the uniformed visitors came,
Unexpectedly, late yesterday
I opened the door to a man and a woman
And I knew what they's come here to say

Oh, I've never seen any darkness so deep
As the moment when I clicked off the light
And a piece of land's only a piece of land
But you will not come home tonight

Stephen, the news has been filled with your picture
It seems the whole world knows your name
And would you believe there was Martin McGuinness
Out condemning these bastards to blame?

Oh, I've never seen so much orange and green
Come together on a thin strip of white
Still, a piece of land's only a piece of land
And you will not come home tonight
Yes, a piece of land's only a piece of land
And you will not come home tonight... 

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Identity. Crisis.

John Oliver (from the Daily Show) interviews b-school students about the MBA Ethics Oath. SO funny!

Feb. 25th's FT had an article by George Akerlof and Rachel Kranton about Identity Economics. Akerlof and Kranton argue that people are not simply motivated by huge bonuses.  Rather, they are motivated when their personal goals are aligned with those of the organization for which they work.  In identity economics, performance pay demonstrates bad faith (employers don't believe that employees will do a good job unless there are obscene monetary incentives...)
Our current financial system gives employees an incentive to manipulate the system rather than to live up to their responsibilities.

Another concern is regulatory capture.  The Warwick Commission has proposed host country rules as opposed to home country rules to preclude regulatory capture (b/c host country rules tend to enhance the link between a financial system and national welfare objectives.  But what about arbitrage?)  Host country rules can also better empower national regulators.  Len Seabrooke and Eleni Tsingou (on Warwick Commission) suggested that we empower the Financial Stability Board as the key coordinator to allow countries to share information on products.  They think that the FSB is a better choice than the IMF or World Bank which lack legitimacy as institutions trusted by developing countries.

Simon Johnson is more pessimistic.  He says, "hoping that we can constrain banks through some form of international governmental cooperation is a complete illusion.  The IMF and the WTO have no mandate on this issue.  The Financial Stability Board is a paper tiger – really just a talking shop between regulators (and the same goes for the Bank for International Settlements more generally)."

The Institute of International Finance says that all of these uncertainties about regulatory reform are slowing economic recovery.  Boo.

Currently reading: The Wages of Failure (working paper by Lucian A. Bebchuk, Alma Cohen, and Holger Spamann)