Monthly Archives: November 2008

The world is not flat

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The World Devel­op­ment Report 2009 is a won­der­ful excur­sion through eco­nomic geog­ra­phy: with some inter­est­ing back­ground papers too (like this from Mar­ius Brul­hart on trends in intra-industry trade since 1960)

The WTO’s objectives

On 11–12 Decem­ber, the Insti­tute for Inter­na­tional Trade will host a con­fer­ence that Andrew Stoler (its Direc­tor) and I have arranged as part of our year-long research project to find a bet­ter way to nego­ti­ate WTO agri­cul­ture agreements.

In a paper he has pre­pared for the con­fer­ence on ‘Vari­able Geome­tries’, Pro­fes­sor Peter LLoyd of Mel­bourne Uni­ver­sity poses a ques­tion about WTO’s objec­tives. The paper will be avail­able to par­tic­i­pants at the con­fer­ence, (and I’ll post links after­wards), but in the mean­time here’s what Pas­cal Lamy (Direc­tor Gen­eral of WTO) thinks are the objec­tives of the Doha Round, or pos­si­bly the objec­tives of the WTO:

Transition to a non-carbon economy

The objec­tives of climate-change mit­i­ga­tion pro­grams such as those in the Gar­naut Report or in the Aus­tralian Government’s absurdly-named ‘car­bon pol­lu­tion reduc­tion scheme’ can­not be achieved by 2020 or 2050 with­out a mas­sive, and rapid, tran­si­tion away from carbon-intensive energy sources of pri­mary energy for base-load power gen­er­a­tion, trans­port etc.

But forc­ing rapid change in the way we power pro­duc­tion and con­sump­tion across the econ­omy —for exam­ple, by means of carbon-quota (or tax) penal­ties— will cut growth and will redis­trib­ute resources to less pro­duc­tive sec­tors such as gov­ern­ment and (prob­a­bly) some house­holds. Cer­tainly, the emis­sion con­trols will affect busi­ness and con­sumer plans, but the wealth impacts also risk under­min­ing our capac­ity to invest in the infra­struc­ture nec­es­sary for an even­tual energy transition.

Prof. Vaclav Smil argues that the iner­tia of energy sys­tems is much greater than these ‘trans­for­ma­tional’ pro­grams acknowl­edge. Unlike infor­ma­tion sys­tems that the micro-processor rev­o­lu­tion­ized within the span of half a working-life, a tran­si­tion in energy sys­tems takes gen­er­a­tions because it requires fun­da­men­tal changes in large-scale ‘coop­er­a­tive’ infra­struc­ture such as trans­mis­sion net­works as well as in the orga­ni­za­tion of pro­duc­tion and consumption.

Temperatures in Victoria

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An update to the pre­vi­ous post on the tem­per­a­ture record in the state of Vic­to­ria. The Aus­tralian Bureau of Mete­o­rol­ogy says that 2007 was the hottest year on record, although satel­lite data show the South­ern Hemi­sphere is not warm­ing. The chart (above) shows their records for Vic­to­ria since 1950.

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Accord­ing to the Reserve Bank’s deputy Governor:

The prospec­tive earn­ings yield on Aus­tralian shares now stands at 11 per cent, almost dou­ble the long-term average…When the yield has risen to these lev­els in the past, the return on shares over the sub­se­quent 10 years has almost always been well above aver­age”  David Uren in The Australian
Here’s the Governor’s speech.

How hot has it been in Victoria?

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The Aus­tralian Bureau of Mete­o­rol­ogy claims that 2007 was the hottest year on record for Victoria

The year 2007 was Victoria’s warmest year on record with a mean annual tem­per­a­ture 1.18°C above the long term norm. This is 0.37°C above the pre­vi­ous record, set in 1988″  BOM
But, if so, Vic­to­ria must have had a dra­mat­i­cally dif­fer­ent year from the rest of the South­ern Hemi­sphere, whose land-temperatures show almost no trend over the past twenty years—except pos­si­bly a slight cool­ing since 2001 (click the thumbnail).

Why ‘Bretton Woods’ bis won’t happen

Although global regime man­age­ment has become mul­ti­po­lar, mul­ti­lat­eral col­lab­o­ra­tion has a woe­ful recent record.

In fact, the emerg­ing mul­ti­lat­eral, mul­ti­po­lar world – long called for by those uncom­fort­able with Amer­i­can power – shows every sign of being highly dys­func­tional.”  Gideon Rach­man at the FT