Sunday, May 01, 2022

continuing. because I kept searching. I'm in a rut, for now.


Ilene Grabel, When Things Don't Fall Apart: Global Financial Governance and Developmental Finance in an Age of Productive Incoherence, MIT Press, Open Access

Foreword by Dani Rodrik
It happens only rarely and is all the more pleasurable because of it. You pick up a manuscript that fundamentally changes the way you look at certain things. This is one such book. Ilene Grabel has produced a daring and delightful reinterpretation of developments in global finance since the Asian financial crisis of 1997–1998.

The book addresses, and resolves, a long-standing puzzle: Why has our present model of financial globalization been so resilient, despite an abysmal track record that includes the most severe global financial crisis since the Great Depression, recurrent sovereign debt crises (in Latin America, East Asia, Russia, and Turkey), and many other disappointments (such as capi- tal flowing “uphill” from poorer to richer nations)? How is it that we have not jettisoned this model for something that is more sensible and works better?

Professor Grabel’s insight is that those of us who were looking for signs of change have had the wrong idea about how real reform often happens. We have been mistaken in searching for evidence of wholesale, programmatic reconsideration of the rules of global finance. Systems of governance rarely change through established blueprints, a master plan, or radical reforms. And besides, such a reform path would suffer from the same kind of hubris that the neoliberal playbook produced.

Instead, she suggests, it is the cracks in the consensus, the local heresies, and the small departures and innovations that matter and lead us in an altogether novel direction. Inconsistency, ambiguity, and incoherence are useful and productive—they are a feature, not a bug.

Rodrik in 2008

It is remarkable to see something in theory work so well in practice. Ricardo Hausmann and I wrote a paper several years ago called "Economic Development as Self-Discovery," where the idea was that entrepreneurship in a developing country consists of discovering the underlying cost structure--what can and cannot be produced profitably. Initial investors in a new line of economic activity face a great amount of uncertainty, since foreign technology always needs some local adaptation. Plus, their cost discovery soon becomes public knowledge--everyone can observe whether their projects are successful or not--so the social value they generate exceeds their private costs. If they succeed, much of the gains are socialized through entry and emulation, whereas if they fail, they bear the full costs.

Some of the what I have been seeing in Ethiopia is a picture perfect illustration of this process at work. Most notable in this respect is the flower industry, which was started by some courageous entrepreneurs who had observed the success of the industry in nearby Kenya and wondered if it could be made to work in Ethiopia as well. Even though much of the technology is standard, local soil conditions make a lot of difference to the economics of growing flowers, and a whole range of other services--from daily cargo flights to high-quality cardboard packaging--has to be in place before the operation can succeed. To its credit, the Ethiopian government understood the need to subsidize these pioneer firms, through cheap land and tax holidays, and the industry took off. Exports have reached $100 million from zero in just a few years. There are now around 90 flower farms in the country, with latecomers the beneficiary of the tinkering that early investors have undertaken.

"Comparative advantage a literature almost as absurd as trolley problems." 

"The open access edition of this book was made possible by generous funding from Arcadia – a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin."

Rausing. Tetra Pak. When things fall apart: 

Neither sister appears to relish the attention-gathering side of their philanthropy. Sigrid has been willing to slow-grow a public profile, in part to encourage philanthropy in others. She has said she finds interviews "vulgar" but has been tempted to do so to encourage more giving among the wealthy in the UK. "People give a lot of money to art projects here. I think it would be a very good thing if similar kinds of sums can go into refuges for women and refugee causes."... 

Sigrid, for her own part, has spoken of a time in her youth when she was "paranoid" and "ashamed" of her wealth. This was especially the case before the family arrived in the UK from "very progressive" Sweden. "Not a good place to be a capitalist. I spent so many of my teenage years skulking in doorways, hiding away." 

The source of the quotes 

Although she will not put a figure on her own personal wealth, Rausing is surprisingly candid about the fraught relationship she has with money. "I grew up being acutely uncomfortable. In the 1960s and 70s, Sweden was very progressive, not a good place to be a capitalist. I spent so many of my teenage years skulking in doorways, hiding away."

In her early 20s, she says, she lived a simple life. There were no shopping sprees or luxury holidays. Even now, she owns only one car, a Volvo.

"I was very paranoid about anyone finding me out," she says. So has she ever sought therapy to deal with her guilt about being so rich? "Yes, I wanted to be who I was and didn't want to hide anything any more. I know people who are emotionally crippled by money they inherited. It does not help anyone."

She has said she finds interviews "vulgar".  The high bourgeois heirs to the aristocracy.
Read, or scroll down for Henri Lefebvre. 
The great majority of nobles either did not know how, or did not wish, to get rich. The great majority of younger sons had no desire to "derogate." They sought the remedy elsewhere, in a growing exclusiveness. Some held that the nobility should form a body like the clergy and be constituted as a closed caste.
S.E. Working Title: Avant-Garde is Kitsch. 
“...did not know how, or did not wish, to get rich”. Self-interest, beyond a point, was vulgar.

The whole fucking point of Grey Gardens: the distinction between having money and working for it. Better to die in poverty than get a job. Why the idle rich love the idle poor, the lumpenproletariat and demimonde.   

"I grew up being acutely uncomfortable."  Scandinavian conformism. 
And from a year before, with a reference to  Janteloven.

I recognized the name of the ex-wife of Joseph Koerner.

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