Fact Is Fabulous-February


23rd George Bernard Shaw quote

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

21st A Century of Decline: Cry for Whom Argentina?

From The Economist, February 15th

In the 43 years lading up to 1914, GDP [of Argentina] had grown at an annual rate of 6%, the fastest record in the world. The country was a magnet for European immigrants, who flocked to find work on the fertile pampas, where crops and cattle were propelling Argentina’s expansion. In 1914 half of Buenos Aires’s population was foreign-born.
The country ranked among the ten richest world, after the likes of Australia, Britain and the United States, but ahead of France, Germany and Italy. Its income per head was 92% of the average of 16 rich economies… c.f. Brazil’s population was less a quarter as well-off.
Although Argentina has had periods of robust growth in the past century- not least during the commodity boom of the past ten years- and its people remain wealthier than most Latin America, its standing as one of the world’s most vibrant economies is a distant memory. Its income per head is now 43% of those same 16 rich economies; it trails Chile and Uruguay in its own back yard.
The political symptoms of decline are also clear. If Argentina appeared to enjoy stability in the pre-war era, its history since then has been marked by a succession of military coups. The first came in 1930; others followed in 1943, 1955, 1962, 1966 and 1976. The election of 1989 marked the first time in more than 60 years that a civilian president had handed power to an elected successor.
… Rafael di Tella: “If a guy has been hit by 700,000 bullets it’s hard to work out which one of them killed him.”
… The landowners who made Argentina rich were not so bothered about educating it… [in 1940,] Argentina had among the highest rates of primary-school enrolment in the world and among the lowest rates of secondary-school attendance.
… Argentina’s golden age was largely foreign-funded. Half of the country’s capital stock was in foreign hands in 1913, further exposing it to external shocks. Low levels of domestic savings can in part be explained by demography: large numbers of immigrants with dependent children spent money rather than saving it.
…The interests of Argentina’s food exporters as being at odds with those of workers. High food prices meant big profits for farmers but empty stomachs for ordinary Argentines. [so similar to Bate’s (1981) African story…]

13th U.S. Payday Loan

From Mullainathan and Shafir, Scarcity, 2013:107

In 2006, there were more than 23,000 payday-lender branches in the U.S., which was more than all the McDonald’s (12,000) and Starbucks (almost 9,000) locations combined. Three-quarters of all payday loan volume comes from rollovers, ultimately accounting for $3.5 billion in fees each year.

The problem is more than just with payday loans. The cash-strapped borrow in many ways, not just through payday loans. They “borrow” by paying their bills late. About 1/6 families in the lowest income quintile (the bottom 20%) pays at least one bill late in any given year. At the extreme end of this are “reconnect” fees. One study found that 18% of the poorest families have had their phone disconnected and 10% have had a utility shut off within a 12-month period. Paying $40 to have your phone service reconnected after failing to pay the bill in time is similar to paying a $40 fee for a loan to avoid the disconnection in the first place. A 1997 study estimated that nearly 5% of the annual income of the poor was spent on reconnections and serving and late fees, a number that we suspect has risen dramatically since them.

(插播广告:long time ago… from Selling China. Private sector of India and China in the 1990s:


10th Sleep Deprivation [But I don’t think these people practice Vipassana…]

From Mullainathan and Shafir, Scarcity, 2013:160

Studies show that sleeping four to six hours a night for two weeks leads to a decay in performance comparable to going without sleep for two nights in a row. (Similarly, in Mani et.al, 2013: evoking financial concerns has a cognitive impact comparable with losing a full night of sleep.)

9th Right-ear 用右耳倾听

From Mullainathan and Shafir, Scarcity, 2013:41

Most people are right-ear dominant for language, which means that verbal information presented to the right ear is easier for them to attend to.

6th Corruption In Europe [1. unclear figure; 2. just perception]

From David Jolly, “Europe Counts Cost of Production”, International New York Times Asia, 2014.2.4.

(Its Asian cousion, “Asia counts the cost of corruption“, By Saira Syed, BBC News, 2011.4.4.)

Despite its relatively clean image, the European Union is losing at least 120 billion euros a year to corruption, and more than three-quarters of citizens believe that the problem is widespread in their countries, the bloc’s home affairs commissioner said Monday.
The awarding of government business and political party financing are two areas dogged by shady dealings, Cecilia Malmstrom, the European commissioner for home affairs, said at a news conference in Brussels. But she said that less obvious sectors also had problems, including health care, where some patients were forced to pay under the table to obtain necessary treatments.
The study found that 56 percent of Europeans believed that corruption had increased in their countries in the last three years, an increase from 47 percent the last time such a study was conducted. And more than four out of five Europeans believed that ‘‘too-close links between business and politics’’ were a major source of problems.
The report calls on member states to increase accountability and transparency, particularly in public procurement, which accounts for about 20 percent of the European Union economy. The ownership of bidders for public contracts is rarely checked, the report said, and at least one country allows public contracts to be awarded to companies with anonymous shareholders.
Ms. Malmstrom said the commission’s estimate that corruption costs Europe EURO 120 billion, or roughly $162 billion, annually was almost certainly too conservative. The figure is equivalent to about 1 percent of the EURO 11.7 trillion gross domestic product of the 28-nation European Union. Ms. Malmstrom did not provide a breakdown of how officials had arrived at the EURO 120 billion figure.


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