ERPZ have always been rather social science oriented, doing analysis mostly on social/economic/political matters and lots of writing in just plain language (ie. no greek symbols or mathematical operators). Nevertheless, economics is fundamentally somewhat about logic and it attempts to connect the maths and science of our society with reality. Sean Gourley, a physicist is doing the same sort of analysis in his research on the mathematics of war, which he presented on TED.com.
The most interesting idea presented in the talk is that even within the chaos of conflict, there are universal principles and relationships between the myriad of different variables in the field (in this case, fatality and frequency of attacks). More importantly, the use of alpha as a measure of fragmentation of insurgency is an interesting result and hopefully can be exploited as a means to achieve peace more quickly during a conflict.
This research paper that eventually resulted from his collaboration with the various experts of different fields was recently published on Nature magazine. TED Blogs features a Q&A with Gourley about the research. It’s great that scientists and mathematicians are using their tools to learn more about complex reality and uncover patterns previously hidden from us; the applications of these mathematics, however, remains to be discovered. As science is often the neutral party, it is important to note also that the same tools can be used by the opposing parties. Strategic thinking, remains an important means of conducting these affairs.
The recent entries seem pretty obsessed with money markets and the more talked-about economies. I’m keeping up with my readings of The Economist and that probably explains. Following the article I previously mentioned about Japan’s looming deflation. They probed further and devoted a recent article in the leader section to the issue.
The Economistfollowed up with an article highlighting the problems associated with the return of deflation. Japan is encouraged to loosen their monetary policy, worry less about inflation and more about deflation. Interestingly, they even tried to draw parallels between Japan and some other developed economies’ experience today.
In one of the economics essay I’ve written for A Levels Practice, I argued that the appreciation of Yuan is unlikely to solve the trade surplus problem that they have and thus reality will not play out as the Americans choose to believe – trade imbalance will continue to mount and China may risk deflation, following the fate of Japan in the past. I was very lucky because during A Levels a somewhat similar question came out and I made the same sort of argument with points already in my mind.
Most journals and publications I read insist on the need for Yuan to be revalued, giving little credit for the fact that China already allowed it to appreciate against the dollar substantially compared to the past. Without the unpegging of Yuan to the Dollar in 2005, trade imbalance could have been worst. That doesn’t mean that it was the appreciation of Yuan that naturally lend its hand at achieving balance; it was mainly the gradual appreciation and the timing it was allowed to appreciate. The Economistanalysed China’s side of the Yuan policy. It gives a balanced account of how political forces and potential economic problems makes China hesitant about revaluing its Yuan.
It is unfair that America always seem to put China into bad light by hinting that China could make a difference (since its central government wield a whole lot of power) but don’t want to. The fact is that there are way too many instances where Americans had the power too, but then they’d exclaim that all sorts of lobbying and market forces are in the way. If China were to give in to this sort of pressure, it would make them way too weak. Besides, America isn’t always right (in fact, most of the time it isn’t); China has done too well in their transition from central planning to market economy so far and will continue to create their own path.
The Becker-Posner Blog also features Becker and Posner’s individual views on the need for China to revalue the Yuan and when so.