Battles of Ideas

Section to follow [perhaps a bit less bloody but no guarantees].

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Editorial: Hmm, let’s see. Now that didn’t work, didn’t it? That at least is clear. But why? And what do we do now?

Editor’s Note. Paris, 25 May 2018.

Dear readers, friends and colleagues,

This ambitious collaborative web project “Ayres on Environment, Economy, Energy & Growth” has been in existence for close to four full years now.  And over this time despite the potential of tremendous content and burning issues, and considerable effort on our part, it has failed to take off.  At least to the degree that the subject merits.  What went wrong?  And where should we go from here?

Making a web platform like this work — highly technical content, including a fair dose of abstract  topics and analytic approaches which require a well prepared audience to be meaningful — is no easy task. And all the more so in this era of crushing information overload.  But that would be a poor excuse.

The main shortcoming thus far has been that we have simply failed to give it sufficient time, commitment, touch and content  — or regularity, — to win over the kind and size of audience which the work and findings of Ayres and his distinguished colleagues deserve in their own work in these complex inter-related spheres of, once again, Environment, Economy, Energy & Growth,..

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Op-Ed: Econ Majors Graduate With a Huge Knowledge Gap

What’s needed is a mandatory course on ethics and the limits of knowledge.

    Moral philosopher. 1723-1790

  – By Noah Smith.   Bloomberg View.   https://bloom.bg/2vue79V

Economics remains one of the most popular majors for college students. Most econ students, of course, don’t go on to become professional economists; instead, they fill the ranks of the U.S.’s vast pper-middle-class of business managers and professionals.

The models they learn in their college classes inform the way they think about the world, even if they don’t end up using them for quantitative purposes after final exams are over.

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After the great repatriation: Where will the money go and what will it do?

– By Robert U. Ayres

               For several weeks, the guys and gals at CNBC and Bloomberg News, and their guests, have been talking about the coming tax reform (cut) legislation that the Republicans finally seem to have in their grasp. Well, maybe not exactly reform, maybe not revenue-neutral, but at least tax cuts for the corporations that give them campaign money. All the cheerleaders, both in Congress and the White House, assert confidently that faster growth will pay for the cost of the tax cut, even though virtually all economists (including me) say that it won’t.

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A hint about the trouble with GE

                                                                                                          Source https://www.investopedia.com/

The continued decline in GE share prices (now around $13 per share) have been a major topic in the financial press (and TV) during the past year. Jeffrey Immelt (Jack Welch’s protegé) is gone, no doubt with a sizeable “golden parachute” to comfort his golden years. Yet in GE’s peak year, under Welch, in August 2000 (just before the “dot.com” crash) GE was worth more than $600 billion. Currently it hovers around $115 billion. As of September 2017 GE was still in the Dow-Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), since it is by far the biggest US manufacturing company in revenues, if not in profits. The annual dividend, formerly  $0.90 per share, is now $0.48. In other words, GE is not earning enough to cover its traditional dividend payout. The company is likely to sell around $20 billion in assets in 2018, just to cover expenses.

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China’s Lose-Lose Love Affair with the Modern Motor Car

Report from China: Robert Ayres

In December I travelled to the city of Kunming, in Yunnan province, China. The occasion of the trip was to attend a conference on planning and give a talk on economics at that conference. The host was the newly appointed provincial Governor, who is also the Communist Party Chairman for Yunnan. The organizer was the former chief planner for Singapore, and the attendees were academics and civil servants in the urban planning departments from all of the major cities of  organizer was the former chief planner for Singapore, and the Yunnan province. I was invited on short notice (only two weeks) and I was asked to provide a copy of my talk in advance, without much detailed information about the actual situation. What I did know about China was more applicable to Beijing and Shanghai than to Kunming. So, I had to “punt”, as they say.

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