Monday Misc and Stuff

  1. “The very best loans are the ones that cannot be justified at all in terms of hard information, but are made anyway on the basis of very good soft information. Big banks are simply unable to lend on soft information, due to bureaucratic imperatives, and a need to manage legitimate ethical concerns.” And “Big banks do a terrible job, on the asset side. Economic growth has been declining in the United States in lockstep with consolidation of banking. (Correlation is not causation, but when there’s blood on the knife, it’s hard not to draw inferences.) Bank scale and diversification are harmful to the public interest. They blunt banks’ incentives and capability to extend high-quality, soft information loans over the full range of industries, localities, and borrower types upon which economic development depends. By the time regulators are forced to recognize that megabanks are in trouble, the holes in their balance sheets are deep indeed, and the cost to the public of filling them — whether via an overt bailout or a covert tax — will be large.” [Interfluidity drafts]
  2. Simon Halsey, long-time chief conductor of the Rundfunkchor Berlin, talking about a 2013 performance of Berliner Philharmoniker / Peter Sellars’ 2013 version of St. Matthew’s Passion. “On the occasion of the revival of the Peter Sellars production of the St Matthew Passion in October 2013, Simon Halsey, long-time chief conductor of the Rundfunkchor Berlin, talks about the never-ending search for the “correct” interpretation of Bach.” (Apparently the 2013 performance is famous and was ungated by Berlin Philharmonic for Easter). [Link to interview]
  3. I didn’t know there were big lithium reserves in Mali [Ken Opalo on Substack]
  4. Phenomenal World on “new US bullishness on African growth.” Quips about increasing demographic tends not necessarily being positive destiny driver but also potential tinderbox (See link #1 here). Seems to basically argue Africa needs FDI? Feels that simple? ““I spend a lot of time in countries all over Africa, and they’re like, ‘Eh, we wouldn’t mind a little more globalization, actually.’” So said Bono in a recent interview with the New York Times. Perhaps the celebrity singer-philanthropist was channeling the great Keynesian economist Joan Robinson, who quipped that “the only thing worse than being exploited by capitalism is not being exploited by capitalism.”” [Phenomenal World]
  5. More demographics: Works in Progress piece explaining how France use to be like 4% of population now less than 1% while Germany and England zoomed by it (“there were 25 million inhabitants in France and 5.5 million in England. Today, there are 68 million inhabitants in France and 56 million in England. Had France’s population increased at the same rate as England’s since 1760, there would be more than 250 million French citizens alive today.) — Why? Normal story would be falling birth rates from Industrial Revolution but blog argues that decline in fertility in France happened earlier (use machine reading of parish records and stuff). Argues “dechristianization” caused it by reading language in wills and stuff. “At the end of the seventeenth century, most testators referred to God, Paradise, or various saints in their wills. On the eve of the French Revolution, they used more secular language and expressions, such as ‘indispensable tribute that we owe to Nature’, to discuss death. Other measures, such as requests for requiem masses (perpetual masses for the dead), bequests, offerings to the church, or even invocations of the Virgin Mary or average weight of funeral candles, all declined significantly.” Conclusion: ‘did France cease to be a great power not, as is usually thought, on 15 June 1815 on the field of Waterloo, but well before that, during the reign of Louis XV when the natural birth-rate was interrupted?’ [Works in Progress]
  6. Updated and bleaker version of Andy Weir’s The Egg:

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