Author Archives

U.S. treasury securities: Why China keeps buying them?

Chinese around the globe were outraged by a comment by a boy on Jimmy Kimmel Live, in which he joked about killing Chinese people to help erase the U.S. debt. ABC swiftly apologized, saying the network “would never purposefully broadcast anything to upset the Chinese community, Asian community, anyone of Chinese descent or any community at large.” According […]

Saudi Arabia and Security Council: Good pose, bad tactics

Can you believe that? Saudi Arabia was elected for the first time to hold one of the 10 non-permanent seats on the UN Security Council — and then rejected it a few hours later. According to the New York Times: The Saudi Foreign Ministry released a statement rejecting the seat just hours after the kingdom’s […]

UN Security Council: How much does a seat worth?

The 2013 United Nations Security Council election will be held next week during the annual UN General Assembly. As the UN’s most powerful agency, the Security Council has 15 seats, filled by five permanent members (China, France, Russia, UK, and US) and ten non-permanent members. Each year, half of the non-permanent members are elected for a two-year […]

Janet Yellen and central banking: The Harvard connection

I applaud President Obama’s decision to nominate Janet Yellen to be the next Fed chairwoman — indeed, the first chairwoman in the Fed’s history. This is very much a victory of the public: the White House clearly favored the other top candidate Lawrence Summers, and if it weren’t the strong opposition by the general public […]

Leadership: Distinguishing adaptive from technical work

At the Harvard Kennedy School, students aspire to be public “leaders”. But just what “leadership” entails? Ronald Heifetz’s Leadership without Easy Answers offers insights. The book basically has two key arguments: first, it distinguishes “technical problems” from “adaptive challenges”; and second, it distinguishes “leadership” from “authority”. I will only focus on the first argument here. In […]

Financial consulting: Good business

Lobbying by financial firms is nothing new. In the past decade the finance and real estate industries more than doubled spending on lobbyists, reaching $474m in 2010, according to FT, citing figures from the Center for Responsive Politics. An IMF working paper published in 2009 found that banks which spent more on lobbying performed the […]

Workaholics: Get a life

The Economist blogged on a same topic that I have explored in an earlier blogpost here. That showed data from the OECD that in a vast majority of its member countries, people are working fewer hours than they did in 1990. While people do generally work less hours in these OECD countries, the reduction in hours […]

Measuring poverty: Different approaches

The New York Times today has an interesting article on how to measure poverty. To oversimplifying things, there are probably three ways to measure poverty. The first one, as Hong Kong is now trying to do, is to set a “poverty line”: people whose income falls below this level would be considered “poor”. The second […]

Course bidding: Is auction always the best?

I’m back to Harvard where I have to decide on which classes to take in the new semester. Naturally, some classes (or professors) are more popular – much more popular – than others. So there exists a natural economic question: how should we allocate the scarce resources (seats) to all the students? The Harvard Kennedy […]

The “busy trap”: How we get into it?

I can’t agree more on how a recent New York Times article describes my life: If you live in America in the 21st century you’ve probably had to listen to a lot of people tell you how busy they are. It’s become the default response when you ask anyone how they’re doing: “Busy!” “So busy.” “Crazy busy.” […]