Cultural Economy

In the old days, before about 1890, there was no field of economics.  There was only political economy, rightly reflecting the link between institutions and laws and the incentives they created.  As Acemoglu and Robinson pointed out in Why Nations Fail, what we call economics arises from the interplay of culture and institutions, and to think that economics is the same for all is to think poorly.

I want to point out some of the ways in which economic thinking can differ across cultures, and explain some of what we see in development in China, and in foreign countries with Chinese companies. 

Economic issues are necessarily paramount for any national leader.  Right now, both Mr. Xi and Mr. Trump derive their legitimacy from promises to achieve national greatness again, and for both, this fervent hope has much citizen – that is, cultural - support.  For Trump, the political slogan is Make America Great Again; for Xi, Made in China 2025, or perhaps, Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.  

Are you getting hammered from the typhoon?   The constant question from the US in fall of 2015 …

 Hangzhou, Xihu District, Shui Mu Qing Hua residential development.  Reporting from the front.  On the fifth floor.

Liu hé lu, the street right outside the school and our apartment complex, was flooded today. That is the only exit from our development.  Late in the day, there was occasional traffic in each direction in the west bound lanes only; a few of the brave drivers who made the attempt did not stall or get flooded out.  Other major local streets were also flooded, and closed.  There is no other way in or out of our development, and all the other developments to the west of us.  The thousands of us were stranded, at least for the rest of the day. The street floods a couple of time a year anyway, so this was not unexpected. 

Source: Englishsina.com

Source:  chinadaily.com.cn

Similar and different – an occasional reflection

As huge economies with large and diverse populations, occupying about the same land area at about the same range of latitudes, China and the US have many similarities.  Similarities extend to many elements of culture and institutions, good and bad.  The similarities are often surprising; the differences confuse us, but may be a source of new perspectives. 

 

Domestic and foreign affairs in 2018 – Xi, CCP, DJT, GOP – Part 4 of 5

 

Harmony and Trust -  civility, social capital, civil society

I want to discuss how these three features of modern society – civility, social capital, and civil society – are now similar in Mr. Xi’s China under CCP domination and Mr. Trump’s US, under GOP domination.  This is by no means a extended look, although this piece is longer than I intended.

Guo jin min tui is the Chinese phrase that expresses policy cycles over centuries – the state advances, the private retreats.  When the state is strong, the room for private initiative declines.  Both Mr. Xi and Mr. Trump would do well to consider the implications in this aphorism.  Both are putting private ideas and private investment and the future of their societies at risk, despite their proclamations to the contrary.  Lucian Pye told us how that works, more than thirty years ago. 

Similar and different – an occasional reflection

As huge economies with large and diverse populations, occupying about the same land area at about the same range of latitudes, China and the US have many similarities.  Similarities extend to many elements of culture and institutions, good and bad.  The similarities are often surprising; the differences confuse us, but may be a source of new perspectives. 

 

Domestic and foreign affairs in 2018 – Xi, CCP, DJT, GOP – Part 3 of 5

Tariff and Tribute - sic transit gloria

Actions by Xi and Trump seem to exhibit astounding ignorance of how the world works – Xi on the relationship culture that is necessary to get things done in the absence of rule of law, Trump on basic econ that should have been learned before his time at Wharton.   Both are substantial disruptors of prior practices that were never codified, but followed by general agreement among prior generations of thoughtful leaders. 

Similar and different – an occasional reflection

As huge economies with large and diverse populations, occupying about the same land area at about the same range of latitudes, China and the US have many similarities.  Similarities extend to many elements of culture and institutions, good and bad.  The similarities are often surprising; the differences confuse us, but may be a source of new perspectives. 

 

Domestic and foreign affairs in 2018 – Xi, CCP, DJT, GOP – Part 2 of 5

Stability - You need more than smoke and mirrors, bluster and threats

 

Source: https://filmscoreclicktrack.com/the-men-behind-the-curtain/

Xi and Trump both want harmony and stability as they define it - obedience to their wishes.  The stability they seek is personal, and this desire has created havoc in the government. 

Similar and different – an occasional reflection

As huge economies with large and diverse populations, occupying about the same land area at about the same range of latitudes, China and the US have many similarities.  Similarities extend to many elements of culture and institutions, good and bad.  The similarities are often surprising; the differences confuse us, but may be a source of new perspectives. 

 

Domestic and foreign affairs in 2018 – Xi, CCP, DJT, GOP – A brief review - Part 1 of 5  - Government and Party

In 2018, we have the Chinese government, run by an authoritarian party with a grandiose leader, and the US, currently run – we cannot say, governed - by a would-be authoritarian dictator.  Both leaders want to individually dominate state, party, people, and economy.  That is what authoritarian leaders do.   Mr. Xi and Mr. Trump are mirror images, of a kind.  Both are incensed by unflattering portraits - 

 

 Source: Down with Tyranny  and see Trump asks media to not publish unflattering pictures

Winnie-the-Pooh is now censored in China, and a Shanghai artist who put an altered Xi picture on t-shirts, suitcases, and coke cans was  arrested, facing five years in prison.

Source: Shanghaiist

 

Recent

  • The Great American Cultural Revolution

    The Great American Cultural Revolution

    Further to  Xi, DJT, GOP, CCP

    About two years ago, I wrote a series of posts pointing out similarities between Mr. Xi and Donald Trump and their respective political parties.  Now comes the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution – with American characteristics. 

    We have a leader who promotes violence but keep his hands sufficiently clean by not leading, like Mao. We have a political party with fortunes tied to the words of this mercurial leader.  Dissension has risen within GOP, as it did in CCP, but the political leaders who are rebels will be slapped down. The entire party is in thrall to a crazed minority, who determine policy for years.  From a trumpian perspective, Mao's famous quote is right on target - “there is great disorder under the Heavens and the situation is excellent.”

    It would be too delicious if it weren't so scary. I can’t help but paraphrase the wiki entry on the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Go ahead and read that first. Won’t take but a minute. The parallels are eerie.  Below, I changed a few words from the wiki.

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  • Political values and social media in Trumpworld-GOP and CCP

     Political values and social media in Trumpworld-GOP and CCP

    Written back in June. Seems like ages ago, but the virus in all its forms is still with us, even after the election. And the Covid-19 vaccine will have 0% effectiveness on the political virus.  Michelle Goldberg back then on the recent NYT Tom Cotton op-ed business –

     It’s important to understand what the people around the president are thinking. But if they’re honest about what they’re thinking, it’s usually too disgusting to engage with. This creates a crisis for traditional understandings of how the so-called marketplace of ideas functions. It’s a subsidiary of the crisis that has the country on fire.

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  • Once Upon a Time, America

    Once Upon a Time, America

     

    At the end of 2018, I wrote a series of posts on similarities between Xi and Trump, CCP and GOP.  See below.

    Now, about six weeks before the election, Barton Gellman at the Atlantic has an analysis of how Trump can disrupt the election and refuse to leave.   This is by no means the only story like this, and the idea seems more and more possible.  What if Trump Refuses to Concede?

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