Category Archives: Policy

Time to reassess eugenics?

Eugen­ics is an ancient idea with a ter­ri­ble mod­ern rep­u­ta­tion. Is that rep­u­ta­tion now irrrel­e­vant? [A dis­cus­sion paper for a talk I gave in 2015: repro­duced here for my records, and per­haps your inter­est] TL; DR Nine­teenth cen­tu­ry lib­er­als —- con­tem­po­raries of Dar­win —- revived the idea, which com­pris­es two relat­ed objec­tives, one neg­a­tive, one […]

Free trade (not agreements) will make Britain great

To judge from most of the “pro­gres­sive” press and my Twit­ter feed, there is a great deal of ruin in Brex­it. I hear that Britain is so inte­grat­ed into the EU it will be root­less out­side. The UK, I’m told, will need to ‘rejoin’ the WTO after Brex­it. It has no trade agree­ments oth­er than […]

Trade blocs world

We will soon see the cre­ation of the first glob­al-scale trade-blocs: exclu­sive inter­na­tion­al trade zones. What will it be like? The short answer (if you want to stop read­ing here) is: the direct eco­nom­ic impact will be rather mod­est but the blocs will be a dis­as­ter for rules-based WTO trad­ing sys­tem. That could have much […]

Draft history of ICC: final chapters

Last year, I com­plet­ed the man­u­script of a cen­ten­ni­al his­to­ry of the Inter­na­tion­al Cham­ber of Com­merce (ICC). It’s a long work: 400 pages, more or less. It will be only the sec­ond his­to­ry of this remark­able insti­tu­tion. The first was pub­lished in 1938. ICC com­mis­sioned the his­to­ry in 2013, but has recent­ly decid­ed to wait […]

Can multilateralism be revived?

Shawn Don­nan at the FT says that it needs a health­i­er life-style. Mul­ti­lat­er­al­ism is weak­er than it has ever been. But, in trade, it has nev­er been as robust as it seemed on the sur­face. For now, I doubt there is a rea­son­able prospect it can be revived in its orig­i­nal form. Instead, we should […]

The longevity of plain TeX

Microsoft Word was first released for MS DOS in Octo­ber, 1983. Some five months ear­li­er, Don­ald Knuth, a pro­fes­sor of com­put­ing at Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty, pub­lished “The TeX Book.” This was a jokey man­u­al for, and a deft demon­stra­tion of, his TeX pub­lish­ing pro­gram whose sta­ble ver­sion first appeared in 1982. Each of these con­tem­po­rary works […]

They never talk about trade

The trade and invest­ment poli­cies of the two main polit­i­cal par­ties in Aus­tralia have flip-flopped in cho­rus over the years so they hard­ly ever fig­ure in elec­tion debates. As if they didn’t mat­ter enough to fight about. Yet there’s lit­tle that mat­ters more to the future pros­per­i­ty of a small, open, still-some­what-remote econ­o­my than build­ing […]