recentpopularlog in

jerryking : city-states   21

The belle époque of the small nation is over
September 28, 2018 | Financial Times | by JANAN GANESH.

Globalisation has been the era of small countries but that time may now be passing. Ganesh raises an interesting point, what happens to small countries that, since the end of WW2, have enjoyed the protection of the rules-based system (UN, WTO, NATO, Pax Americana).

Singapore leaders were determined in their quest to that small nation be less small.....The paradox is that smallness has been an edge, not a curse, in the liberal age. For all the grandiloquence about a Washington Consensus and a Pax Americana, the US was never the principal profiteer from globalisation.....The real beneficiaries were the rapid enrichment of Ireland, the ethnic diversification of Sweden, the technological fecundity of Israel and the rise of Dubai from the sands as a shimmering entrepôt......1990-2010 was the golden age--the belle époque--of the small nation....Rules-based globalism was a precious equaliser for these places.... it also made advantages of their liabilities....Their shortage of domestic consumers was the ultimate incentive to cast around for other markets. Their lack of capital made them welcome foreign investors. Even the nicheness of their native languages (in some cases) obliged them to master English.

There is, without leaning too much on “national character”, a small-country hardiness ....an acceptance of the outside world as a non-negotiable fact: a blend of fatalism and resourcefulness that makes for formidable migrants....If small countries have mastered the global age, it is a feat that goes beyond the economic. They also have a cultural reach that was hard to picture not long ago, when nations needed the brawn of a BBC or a Canal Plus to foist their creative wares on distant audiences....all attest to what we are now obliged to call the “soft power” of small countries....The mistake is to see this moment as eternal. For those who live in or care about these places, the dread is that the coming decades will be as harsh as the last few have been kind. Almost all the conditions that allowed small nations to bloom look precarious....growing protectionism...big states throwing their weight around....Peter Thiel, in his bid for NZ citizenship, said he found “no other country that aligns more with my view of the future than New Zealand”. It was telling that such a prolific maker of sound bets backed a small, open, adaptable nation.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
I am more optimistic and believe many small states will adjust just fine. Why? Think of Taleb's flexibility idea - small states are less fragile than bigger ones, more nimble, more homogenous, faster to change I like also to add that there are more smaller successful counties than the ones mentioned (e.g., Switzerland, Costa Rica).
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
The flip side is that small countries may have greater ability to act thoughtfully and coherently than larger peers. But I agree - it is likely to be tough ahead.

Here in Singapore, a senior politician summed it up very well: we are just a block of granite in the south china sea, and have no God-given right to exist as a country. The only way we can survive is by being paranoid and continuously reinventing ourselves.
city-states  globalization  Iceland  Janan_Ganesh  nimbleness  Peter_Thiel  post_globalization  rules-based  Singapore  small_states  soft_power  antifragility  Dubai  Ireland  punch-above-its-weight  paranoia  reinvention 
october 2018 by jerryking
My country is what it is because…
JULY 13, 2014 | BY KNEWS | Adam Harris.

Ever since a friend loaned me the book ‘From Third World to First—The Singapore Story: 1965-2000’ I have been looking at my country with a range of emotions. I have felt anger, pity, sorrow, disappointment and shame….Last week, I read a news report prepared by one of my reporters. Using information supplied by the Indian Arrival Committee (IAC) – who culled statistics from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) database and some other international sources – it was concluded that Guyana is 254 years behind Singapore….The economic policies of that Asian giant boggled my mind. For one, its leader bought foreign talent when the country had none, but there was a caveat. For every two foreigners there needed to be one Singaporean. There was no attempt to get the foreigner to pay a bribe….The strange thing is that we have examples to follow; instead we have opted to do our own thing. The result is stagnation and a people who merely want to leave the country by any means possible. In this day and age we have skilled Guyanese running to other countries to peddle their ability.
Singapore  Guyana  Guyanese  Lee_Kuan_Yew  books  city-states  disappointment  economic_development  economic_stagnation 
july 2015 by jerryking
Can-Do Lee Kuan Yew - NYTimes.com
MARCH 23, 2015
Continue reading the main story

Roger Cohen

The measure of that achievement is that the ingredients of disaster abounded in Singapore, a country that is “not supposed to exist and cannot exist,” as Lee said in a 2007 interview with The New York Times. “We don’t have the ingredients of a nation,” he noted, “the elementary factors: a homogeneous population, common language, common culture and common destiny.” Instead, it had a combustible ethnic and religious hodgepodge of Chinese, Malays and Indians gathered in a city-state of no natural resources....The fact that the elements for cataclysm exist does not mean that cataclysm is inevitable. Lee demonstrated this in an age where the general cacophony, and the need to manage and spin every political minute, makes statesmanship ever more elusive. The determining factor is leadership. What defines leadership above all is conviction, discipline in the pursuit of a goal, adaptability in the interest of the general good, and far-sightedness.

Lee’s only religion was pragmatism, of which religion (as generally understood) is the enemy, because, to some adherents, it offers revealed truths that are fact-resistant. Any ideology that abhors facts is problematic. (If you believe land is yours because it was deeded to you in the Bible, for example, but other people live there and have for centuries, you have an issue pregnant with violence.) Lee had one basic yardstick for policy: Does it work? It was the criterion of a forward-looking man for whom history was instructive but not imprisoning. He abhorred victimhood (an excuse for sloppy thinking and nationalist delusion) and corruption. He prized opportunity, meritocracy, the work ethic of the immigrant and education.
authoritarianism  city-states  far-sightedness  leaders  leadership  Lee_Kuan_Yew  nation_builders  obituaries  Roger_Cohen  Singapore  Southeast_Asia  statesmen  tributes  victimhood  work_ethic 
march 2015 by jerryking
In Singapore, Building Businesses for the Next Billion - NYTimes.com
By QUENTIN HARDY

Singapore’s tiny size always forced it to look outward, whether servicing foreign ships or assembling electronics for export to Europe and the United States. Now that software is delivered over the Internet and almost everyone has a phone, Singapore still needs to export its business, but the regional market, with an extraordinary mixture of rich and poor, has a lot more potential....“There are over 1 billion people within a four-hour flight of Singapore,” said Hian Goh, a partner at Pivotal Asia Ventures. While that is true of a couple other Asian capitals, he noted, “nowhere else has the range wealth: Singapore’s $60,000 per capita GDP, and $3,000 in Laos. Technology is a force enabler for all of them.”

The expatriate ties are equally diverse, with companies from Russia and the European Union looking for cross-border investment, and individuals from South Africa and Slovakia who were drawn by the warm weather, easy business regulations and high-speed connectivity.

One incubator, called The Joyful Frog Digital Incubator (the name has something to do with “just do it”), wouldn’t seem out of place in the Silicon Valley, except the house barista is more cosmopolitan.

This isn’t to say “there is better than here,” or “Asia wins.” Those responses are increasingly incoherent. It may not be that kind of contest, and for many of these people, even in a state as closely managed as Singapore, the nation matters less than connectivity and what local populations need.

They are building a world where tech travels everywhere, demolishing existing systems and changing societies.
start_ups  Singapore  globalization  venture_capital  vc  cosmopolitan  city-states  exporting  outward_looking 
october 2013 by jerryking
The Self-Destruction of the 1 Percent -
October 13, 2012 | NYTimes.com | By CHRYSTIA FREELAND.

IN the early 14th century, Venice was one of the richest cities in Europe. At the heart of its economy was the colleganza, a basic form of joint-stock company created to finance a single trade expedition. The brilliance of the colleganza was that it opened the economy to new entrants, allowing risk-taking entrepreneurs to share in the financial upside with the established businessmen who financed their merchant voyages.

Venice’s elites were the chief beneficiaries. Like all open economies, theirs was turbulent. Today, we think of social mobility as a good thing. But if you are on top, mobility also means competition. In 1315, when the Venetian city-state was at the height of its economic powers, the upper class acted to lock in its privileges, putting a formal stop to social mobility with the publication of the Libro d’Oro, or Book of Gold, an official register of the nobility. If you weren’t on it, you couldn’t join the ruling oligarchy.

The political shift, which had begun nearly two decades earlier, was so striking a change that the Venetians gave it a name: La Serrata, or the closure. It wasn’t long before the political Serrata became an economic one, too. Under the control of the oligarchs, Venice gradually cut off commercial opportunities for new entrants. Eventually, the colleganza was banned. The reigning elites were acting in their immediate self-interest, but in the longer term, La Serrata was the beginning of the end for them, and for Venetian prosperity more generally. By 1500, Venice’s population was smaller than it had been in 1330. In the 17th and 18th centuries, as the rest of Europe grew, the city continued to shrink....several recent studies have shown that in America today it is harder to escape the social class of your birth than it is in Europe. The Canadian economist Miles Corak has found that as income inequality increases, social mobility falls...Businessmen like to style themselves as the defenders of the free market economy, but as Luigi Zingales, an economist at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, argued, “Most lobbying is pro-business, in the sense that it promotes the interests of existing businesses, not pro-market in the sense of fostering truly free and open competition.”
business_interests  capitalism  Chrystia_Freeland  city-states  cronyism  crony_capitalism  depopulation  elitism  entrenched_interests  history  income_distribution  income_inequality  lobbying  locked_in  moguls  new_entrants  oligarchs  pro-business  pro-market  Renaissance  self-destructive  self-interest  social_classes  social_mobility  The_One_Percent  Venice  winner-take-all 
september 2013 by jerryking
Montreal and Toronto need a new breed of mayor
Jun. 20 2013 | The Globe and Mail | Konrad Yakabuski.

Canada’s two biggest cities are in the market for new leadership at a critical juncture. So-called “higher” levels of government are out of money and ideas and de facto city states are re-emerging as the real motors of national growth and innovation. Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley of the Brookings Institution point out that this “inversion of the hierarchy of power” presents cities with both challenges and opportunities. Higher levels of government are too broke, too slow and too politically divided to make transformative public policy, so visionary mayors must fill the void. The trend is yielding a new model of governance. “The metropolitan revolution,” they write in their new book of the same name, “is like our era: crowd-sourced rather than close-sourced, entrepreneurial rather than bureaucratic, networked rather than hierarchical.”...If inclusiveness is key to the metropolitan revolution, Toronto and Montreal have been shaped by history and demography to embody it. With half of its population born outside Canada, Toronto reverberates with the influences of an entire planet. Dundas Square on a Sunday afternoon is a chaotic free-for-all of colour, creed, generation and gender. There are few places in the world that could pull it off as peacefully....As Torontonians ponder a Ford-free future, they need to think about who can best lead such a diverse city as it stakes its claim to global greatness. Choosing an anti-development ideologue who puts poverty alleviation ahead of economic growth would be just as big a mistake as picking a crane-loving populist who doesn’t know his Weiwei from his WiFi.

The inversion of the power hierarchy promises to make the next mayors of Toronto and Montreal national leaders, not just local ones. To succeed, they will need to transcend outdated political cleavages and notions of progress.
Konrad_Yakabuski  Toronto  Montreal  anti-development  leadership  mayoral  networks  crowdsourcing  books  John_Tory  Brookings  voids  governance  cities  city-states  cash-strapped  vision 
june 2013 by jerryking
A Statesman's Friendly Advice - WSJ.com
April 4, 2013 | WSJ | Peggy Noonan

Noonan: A Statesman's Friendly Advice, Singapore's Lee Kwan Yew on what makes America great—and what threatens its greatness. "Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master's Insights on China, the United States and the World," a gathering of Mr. Lee's interviews, speeches and writings.

Mr. Lee, of course, is the founder and inventor of modern Singapore. He made it a dynamo. He pushed it beyond its ethnic divisions and placed a bet that, though it is the smallest nation in southeast Asia has few natural resources, its people, if organized and unleashed within a system of economic incentive, would come to constitute the only resource that mattered. He was right. When he took office as prime minister, in 1959, per capita income was about $400 a year. Last year it was more than $50,000.

By PEGGY NOONAN
Peggy_Noonan  Singapore  America_in_Decline?  books  ethnic_divisions  competitiveness_of_nations  city-states  leaders  statesmen  Lee_Kuan_Yew 
april 2013 by jerryking
Whatever the weather
Nov. 24, 2012 | The Financial Times News: p10.|Gillian Tett who interviews Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Until now, Taleb says, modern society has generally assumed that people, systems or institutions fell into two camps: either they were fragile (and likely to break when shocks occur) or robust (and thus able to resist shocks without being impacted at all). Taleb insists there is a third category of people, institutions and systems that are resilient in a way we have been unable to articulate: they survive shocks not because they are immovable but precisely because they do change, bending in the face of stress; adapting and learning. This is the quality that he describes as "antifragile". (In the US the book is being published with the rather more explicit subtitle "Things that Gain from Disorder".)

Taleb goes on to explain how this works: while nation-states tend to be fragile (because they are highly dependent on one vision of the nation), city-states tend to be antifragile (because they can adapt and learn from history). Careers that are based on one large employer can be fragile but careers that are flexible and entrepreneurial are antifragile, because they can move with changing times. Similarly, the banking system is fragile, while Silicon Valley is antifragile; governments that are highly indebted are fragile, while those (such as Sweden) which have learnt from past mistakes and refuse to assume too much debt are antifragile. And Switzerland is presented as one of the most antifragile places of all, partly because its decentralised structure allows for plenty of experimentation...Taleb has plenty of advice to offer us on how to become more antifragile. We should embrace unpredictable change, rather than chase after an illusion of stability; refuse to believe anyone who offers advice without taking personal risk; keep institutions and systems small and self-contained to ensure that they can fail without bringing the entire system down; build slack into our lives and systems to accommodate surprises; and, above all, recognise the impossibility of predicting anything with too much precision. Instead of building systems that are excessively "safe", Taleb argues, we should roll with the punches, learn to love the random chances of life and, above all, embrace small pieces of adversity as opportunities for improvement. "Wind extinguishes a candle and energises a fire," he writes. "Likewise with randomness, uncertainty, chaos, you want to use them, not hide from them."
adaptability  adversity  antifragility  books  chaos  city-states  Gillian_Tett  illusions  Nassim_Taleb  overcompensation  personal_risk  randomness  resilience  scheduling  self-contained  skin_in_the_game  slack_time  surprises  trauma  uncertainty  unpredictability 
november 2012 by jerryking
Antifragile
by Taleb, Nassim Nicholas.
Year/Format: 2012

Just as human bones get stronger when subjected to stress and tension, and rumors or riots intensify when someone tries to repress them, many things in life benefit from stress, disorder, volatility, and turmoil. What Taleb has identified and calls “antifragile” is that category of things that not only gain from chaos but need it in order to survive and flourish.

In The Black Swan,Taleb showed us that highly improbable and unpredictable events underlie almost everything about our world. In Antifragile, Taleb stands uncertainty on its head, making it desirable, even necessary, and proposes that things be built in an antifragile manner. The antifragile is beyond the resilient or robust. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better and better.

Furthermore, the antifragile is immune to prediction errors and protected from adverse events. Why is the city-state better than the nation-state, why is debt bad for you, and why is what we call “efficient” not efficient at all? Why do government responses and social policies protect the strong and hurt the weak? Why should you write your resignation letter before even starting on the job? How did the sinking of theTitanicsave lives? The book spans innovation by trial and error, life decisions, politics, urban planning, war, personal finance, economic systems, and medicine. And throughout, in addition to the street wisdom of Fat Tony of Brooklyn, the voices and recipes of ancient wisdom, from Roman, Greek, Semitic, and medieval sources, are loud and clear.

Antifragile is a blueprint for living in a Black Swan world.
antifragility  Black_Swan  blueprints  bones  bone_density  books  brittle  city-states  disorder  improbables  libraries  Nassim_Taleb  revenge_effects  stressful  tension  turmoil  unpredictability  volatility 
november 2012 by jerryking
The Saturday Profile - Days of Reflection for the Man Who Defined Singapore - Biography - NYTimes.com
September 10, 2010 | New York Times | By SETH MYDANS. The
stress of his wife’s illness is constant, he said, harder on him than
stresses he faced for years in the political arena. But repeatedly, in
looking back over his life, he returns to his moment of greatest
anguish, the expulsion of Singapore from Malaysia in 1965, when he wept
in public.

That trauma presented him with the challenge that has defined his life,
the creation and development of a stable and prosperous nation, always
on guard against conflict within its mixed population of Chinese, Malays
and Indians.

“We don’t have the ingredients of a nation, the elementary factors,” he
said three years ago in an interview with the International Herald
Tribune, “a homogeneous population, common language, common culture and
common destiny.”
Singapore  Lee_Kuan_Yew  leaders  aging  Southeast_Asia  city-states  statesmen 
september 2010 by jerryking
: The Politically Incorrect Guide to Ending Poverty
July/August 2010 | The Atlantic Magazine | By Sebastian
Mallaby. In the 1990s, Paul Romer revolutionized economics. In the
aughts, he became rich as a software entrepreneur. Now he’s trying to
help the poorest countries grow rich—by convincing them to establish
foreign-run “charter cities” within their borders. Romer’s idea is
unconventional, even neo-colonial—the best analogy is Britain’s historic
lease of Hong Kong. And against all odds, he just might make it happen.
noughties  poverty  economic_development  Paul_Romer  rules_of_the_game  neocolonialism  recolonization  analogies  unconventional  city-states  political_correctness  enclaves  Hong_Kong  economic  economists 
june 2010 by jerryking

Copy this bookmark:





to read