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jerryking : '30s   9

Unsettling precedents for today’s world
November 26, 2019 | | Financial Times | Martin Wolf.

** Destined for War, Harvard’s Graham Allison
**  The Rise and the Fall of the Great Powers, by Paul Kennedy

Martin Wolf focuses on the three eras of conflict of the past 120 years. 
(1) the cold war (1948-1989) between a liberal democratic west, led by the US, and the communist Soviet Union, a transformed version of the pre-first world war Russian empire. This was a great power conflict between the chief victors of the second world war.....The cold war ended in peaceful triumph. 

(2) the interwar years. This was an interregnum in which the attempt to restore the pre-first world war order failed, the US withdrew from Europe and a huge financial and economic crisis, emanating originally from the US, ravaged the world economy. It was a time of civil strife, populism, nationalism, communism, fascism and national socialism. The 1930s are an abiding lesson in the possibility of democratic collapse once elites fail. They are also a lesson of what happens when great countries fall into the hands of power-hungry lunatics.....the interwar period ended in a catastrophic war.

(3) the decisive period 1870-1914 saw a rebalancing of economic power. In 1880, the UK generated 23 per cent of global manufacturing output. By 1913, this had fallen to 14 per cent. Over the same period, Germany’s share rose from 9 per cent to 15 per cent. This shift in the European balance led to a catastrophic Thucydidean war between the UK, an anxious status quo power, especially once the Germans started building a modern fleet, and Germany, a resentful rising one. Meanwhile, US industrial output went from 15 to 32 per cent of the world’s, while China fell into irrelevance. Thereupon, US action (in the 20th century’s big conflicts) and inaction (in the interwar years) determined the outcomes.....The pre-1914 period ended in a catastrophic war.

Today’s era is a mixture of all three of these. It is marked by a conflict of political systems and ideology between two superpowers, as in the cold war, by a post-financial crisis decline of confidence in democratic politics and market economics as well as by the rise of populism, nationalism and authoritarianism, as in the 1930s, and, most significantly, by a dramatic shift in relative economic power, with the rise of China, as with the US before 1914. For the first time since then, the US faces a power with an economic potential exceeding its own.....what lessons are to be learned from the eras above?
(A) One lesson is that one is that quality of leadership matters!!!!
Xi Jinping’s capacities and intentions are clear enough: he is devoted to party dominance over a resurgent China. But the political system of the western world and especially the US and UK, the two powers that dragged the world through the 1930s, is failing. US President Donald Trump’s erratic leadership recalls that of Germany under Kaiser Wilhelm. Without better leadership, the west and so the wider world are in deep trouble.

(B) Another lesson is the overriding importance of avoiding war.
(C) the most important conclusion is that avoiding yet another catastrophe is insufficient.......Our fates are too deeply intertwined for that. A positive-sum vision of relations between the west, China and the rest has to become dominant if we are to manage the economic, security and environmental challenges we face.
'30s  books  China  China_rising  Cold_War  Donald_Trump  geopolitics  Graham_Allison  history  Martin_Wolf  rising_powers  superpowers  thought-provoking  U.S.  U.S.-China_relations  WWII  Xi_Jinping 
11 weeks ago by jerryking
How Britons forgot that history can hurt
September 19, 2019 | | Financial Times| by Simon Kuper.

Centuries of stability have created a country careless about risk... the British mainland has meandered along nicely since Newton’s death in 1727: no conquest, dictatorship, revolution, famine or civil war. The sea prevented invasions; coal made Britain the first industrialised power. Few Britons developed strong ideologies that they were motivated to kill for.

How to square this historical stability with the UK’s newfound instability?......What explains Britain’s transformation? I suspect it’s precisely the country’s historical stability that has made many of today’s Britons insouciant about risk. They have forgotten that history can hurt. Other countries remember....their citizens remember how countries can go horribly wrong (see Uganda, the French in Algeria, etc.)......Britain has no comparable traumas. Terrible things do happen there but chiefly to poor people — which is how the country is supposed to work. Even the losses suffered during two world wars have been reconfigured into proud national moments. The widespread American guilt about slavery is almost absent here.

And so, Britain has a uniquely untroubled relationship with its past, and a suspicion of anything new. No wonder the natural ruling party calls itself “Conservative”.

Britain’s ruling classes are especially nostalgic, because they live amid the glorious past: the family’s country home, then ancient public school, Oxbridge and Westminster. They felt Britain was so secure from constitutional outrages that they never bothered to write a constitution.

But it’s wrong to blame British insouciance (embodied by Johnson) on the elite. It extends across all classes. Most Britons have learnt to be politically unserious. Hence their tolerance for toy newspapers they know to be mendacious — Britons’ ironic relationship with their tabloids puzzles many foreigners.

Postwar Britons — the most shielded generation in this shielded country’s history — voted Brexit not out of fanaticism but in a spirit of “Why not?” Many Leave voters argued additionally that “Things can’t get worse”, which any Ugandan could have told them was mistaken. Some Leavers even seemed to crave a bit of history.
'30s  Argentina  Brexit  carelessness  complacency  constitutions  decay  false_sense_of_security  German  history  historical_amnesia  insouciance  ruling_classes  Simon_Kuper  social_classes  United_Kingdom  worrying 
september 2019 by jerryking
Canada beware: We are suffering a great depression in commodity prices - The Globe and Mail
MICHAEL BLISS
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Jan. 15, 2016

The Great Depression of the 1930s used to be understood as a worldwide structural crisis that was partly an adjustment to the great expansion of crop acreage and other primary industries undertaken to meet the demands of the First World War. Unfortunately the history of those years now tends to be viewed through the distorting lenses of economists fixated on monetary policy and financial crisis management.

They thought that the crisis of 2008 might become a replay of the 1930s. For the most part they have not realized that it is today’s global depression in commodity prices that has eerie echoes of the great crack-up. If it’s true that we have overexpanded our productive capacity to meet the demands of Chinese growth, and if that growth is now going to slow, or even cease, then history is worrisomely on the verge of repeating itself....One sign of the beginning of wisdom is to be able to shed illusions. Make no mistake. Right now, the world is experiencing a great depression in commodity prices, led by the collapse of oil, that represents an enormous shrinkage in the valuation of our wealth. As a country whose wealth is still highly dependent on the returns we can get from selling our natural resources, Canada is very vulnerable. In a time of price depression, our wealth bleeds away.
'30s  adjustments  commodities  commodities_supercycle  economic_downturn  Great_Depression  historians  history  illusions  Michael_Bliss  natural_resources  overcapacity  pricing  overexpansion  slow_growth  wisdom  WWI 
january 2016 by jerryking
Historian Margaret MacMillan on what the ‘war to end wars’ can teach us -
Sep. 07 2013 | The Globe and Mail | Sandra Martin.
Her new book, The War that Ended Peace: The Road to 1914, will be out this fall – in anticipation of the 100th anniversary of the war next August.

Why are we still haunted by the First World War?

Because we still don’t know what to make of it. We’re still horrified by the loss, by the sense that it may have all been a mistake, by the sheer waste, and by what happened afterward. Nothing much was settled, it helped to brutalize European society, to breed ideologies like fascism and Bolshevism, to prepare the way for the horrors that came in the 1920s and 1930s and the Second World War. It’s also a war that created the modern world. It had its greatest impact on Europe, of course, but it shaped Canada and Australia, helped to speed the rise of the United States to superpower status, and redrew the map of much of the world. It was a watershed that remains one of the greatest historical puzzles.
history  historians  WWI  root_cause  Margaret_MacMillan  Syria  books  '30s  WWII  turning_points 
september 2013 by jerryking
Book Review: General Albert C. Wedemeyer - WSJ.com
September 9, 2012 | WSJ | By JONATHAN W. JORDAN.
The Man With a Plan
A warrior who helped lead the Allies to victory armed with charts, graphs and a meticulous attention to detail.

Albert Coady Wedemeyer (1897-1989) was from an upper-middle-class family in Omaha, Neb. Fascinated by European history and the grand strategy of empires as a youth, he was inexorably drawn to the life of a soldier and graduated from West Point in 1919. He foresaw another war with Germany and, in the late 1930s, attended the German army's prestigious general-staff school, the Kriegsakademie. There he learned the art of blitzkrieg alongside his future enemies. He watched Nazi brownshirts strut around Berlin, venting their hatred against Jews. He was in Vienna during the Anschluss, and he saw the Czechoslovakian crisis unfold from the German perspective.

Wedemeyer's report summarizing German tactics and organization brought him to the attention of George C. Marshall, who in 1939 became the Army's chief of staff. Marshall assigned Wedemeyer to the War Plans Division and tasked him with reducing America's mobilization requirements to a single document. In the summer of 1941, in response to a request from Roosevelt, Wedemeyer's team expanded this into a blueprint on how to defeat America's likely enemies in a future war.
1919  book_reviews  WWII  U.S._Army  logistics  generalship  warfare  war  blitzkrieg  military_academies  George_Marshall  mobilization  grand_strategy  '30s  blueprints  detail_oriented  West_Point 
september 2012 by jerryking
Meet the man who shaped 20th-century Toronto - The Globe and Mail
JOHN LORINC
From Saturday's Globe and Mail
Published Friday, May. 18, 2012

Rowland Caldwell Harris – who began a 33-year term as works commissioner a century ago this week – left his civic fingerprints all over Toronto, building hundreds of kilometres of sidewalks, sewers, paved roads, streetcar tracks, public baths and washrooms, landmark bridges and even the precursor plans to the GO commuter rail network.

“The significance of Harris a hundred years later is that we’re still living fundamentally in the city he imagined,” observes Dalhousie architecture professor Steven Mannell, who studies his career and has advised city officials on an extensive rehabilitation of the R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant, due to be finished next year.

Mr. Harris famously added a second deck to the Prince Edward Viaduct in anticipation of a subway line that wasn’t built for decades. What’s less well known is that Mr. Harris was a photo buff who, in 1930, presided over the city’s first planning exercise – a process that led to construction of congestion-easing arterials such as Dundas Street East and the parkway extension of Mount Pleasant through Rosedale and up towards St. Clair.
John_Lorinc  Toronto  trailblazers  R.C._Harris  architecture  wastewater-treatment  infrastructure  municipalities  urban  urban_planning  landmarks  bridges  foresight  imagination  TTC  '30s  city_builders 
may 2012 by jerryking
Crovitz: Iran's Ahmadinejad, Information Pariah - WSJ.com
SEPT. 27, 2010 | WSJ | By L. GORDON CROVITZ. When a
dictator's lies are so easily unmasked, can his threats be ignored?
Sometimes the reasonable response to threats is to take them seriously.
In his history of WW II, Churchill identified the theme of the 1st vol.
("The Gathering Storm") as "how the English-speaking peoples through
their unwisdom, & carelessness allowed the wicked to return."
Churchill spent the 1930s in the political wilderness, warning that
Hitler meant what he wrote in "Mein Kampf". He wrote that German
"opportunities for concealment, camouflage, & treaty evasion are
numerous & varied." For an info. pariah who persecutes his own
people & threatens others, the presumption must be that his
rhetoric, no matter how extreme, reflects his policy...Today, a leader
who consistently mocks, lies & threatens deserves to be set apart.
We can`t plead misunderstanding & will have ourselves to blame if
Ahmadinejad achieves his ambition of a bomb to back up his threats.
Iran  Ahmadinejad  L._Gordon_Crovtiz  Winston_Churchill  lying  political_wilderness  '30s  WWII  threats  nuclear  presumptions  naivete 
september 2010 by jerryking
Lessons of the '30s: Long Study of Great Depression Has Shaped Bernanke's Views; Fed Nominee Learned Perils Of Deflation, Gold Standard And Pricking of Bubbles; A Grandmother's Explanation
Dec 7, 2005 | Wall Street Journal pg. A.1 | Greg Ip. "In
1983, Mark Gertler asked his friend and fellow economist Ben Bernanke
why he was starting his career by studying the Great Depression. "If you
want to understand geology, study earthquakes," Mr. Bernanke replied,
according to Mr. Gertler. "If you want to understand economics, study
the biggest calamity to hit the U.S. and world economies." "Lafley was
in charge of the company's Asian operations during a major Japanese
earthquake and the Asian economic collapse. That's when he discovered,
he says, that "you learn ten times more in a crisis than during normal
times.""
10x  Benjamin_Bernanke  economists  U.S._Federal_Reserve  bubbles  financial_history  Greg_Ip  Great_Depression  disequilibriums  geology  earthquakes  '30s  anomalies  crisis  deflation  lessons_learned 
november 2009 by jerryking
reportonbusiness.com: Gimme much more
April 25, 2008 G&M column by DOUG STEINER

We all want more information about everything. Yet we often can't get the precious data we need to make good financial decisions, or we don't bother. ...."ANALYZE BEFORE YOU INVEST." We agreed that we didn't heed that advice often enough. But to ABYI, you need hard data, and few companies have ever been eager to disclose it......In 1930's Ontario, companies were only required to table their financial results at their annual meeting, so managers held the meeting in an out-of-the-way place. In 1945, the Ontario Securities Act finally required any company selling shares to the public to provide full and plain disclosure of key financial information in its prospectus.

It wasn't until 1958 that Ontario required companies to file prompt reports of any "material change" in their business. Insider trading on the basis of information not available to the public wasn't outlawed until 1966.....regulators only enforce rules or draw up new ones after problems arise. To act pre-emptively would be hellishly unproductive, and might prompt companies and capital markets to move elsewhere........Better disclosure can help both investors and executives....Even without disclosure rules, you can dig up lots of information about the executives of companies in your portfolio. Last year, U.S. academics David Yermack and Crocker Liu published a study that compared the size and prices of houses bought by CEOs with their companies' share prices. The duo used the excellent U.S. real estate site Zillow.com and other public sources to gather data. On average, the bigger and pricier the home purchased, the worse the subsequent share price performance.

I like to invest in companies where I know the senior managers, and I'm lucky to know many of them. In some cases, much of the information about their character appears in the media. I prefer executives who don't have big photos in their offices of themselves with politicians and other notables. I like CEOs who drive older cars, work all the time and have no hobbies. Boring, focused and cheap.
data  Doug_Steiner  disclosure  '30s  insider_trading  CEOs  mundane  prospectuses  cost-consciousness  focus  unglamorous  boring  investors 
february 2009 by jerryking

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