Digest 15: Conflict tracker, trophy hunting, stock-based comp
On Friday I wrote about dangers I presently see to the U.S. dollar. This feels most important right now. If you haven’t yet read it, I’d point you there first.
The below are remaining most interesting highlights from the past fortnight’s reading.
Dan Wang on China’s centralised control
From Dan Wang’s acclaimed annual letter:
senseless directives from the central government
The government had over the last three years put up obstacles for people to purchase fever meds. Health authorities feared that people might self-medicate at home rather than submit to the quarantines. So pharmacies would be ordered to remove fever meds from their shelves during an outbreak, or they would demand customers to furnish their national ID for contact tracing. That deterred purchases, and, I suspect, greater production by manufacturers. Therefore much of the Chinese population met their Covid wave without much fever meds on hand. As best as I can tell, China is the only country that followed a twisted logic to deny people fever medications during a fever-producing pandemic.
whom did the propaganda authorities wheel out to deliver that comforting message? The same experts who weeks ago were saying that it would be extraordinarily irresponsible to abandon controls. One person who stayed silent was top leader Xi Jinping. He has obliquely acknowledged the abandonment of zero-Covid, referencing hard times in generic terms. He did not explain the reversal of a policy he has personally insisted on, or give comfort to a people who would face a disease that propaganda authorities spent three years terrifying them about. Neither did anyone else in the central leadership.
it increasingly resembles a crew of firefighters who bring extraordinary skill to dousing fires that they themselves ignited.
Beijing shows that it’s utterly possible to fail when it succeeds, for example by bringing too much state capacity to bear on solutions like zero-Covid or a one-child policy.
Blindspot on Iran?
Bret Stephens with Andrew Roberts. Clip for ~2 minutes:
A detailed interview with CIA Director William Burns didn’t dissuade me of Bret’s view.
In my article on the precarious dollar, I clipped highlights on China brokering relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia. A few further WSJ highlights:
there have long been hopes in Washington for a so-called Arab NATO that would counter Iran. In Israel, the announcement of restored Saudi-Iran ties was met with dismay.
“The Saudi-Iran deal is a total failure of the Israeli government’s foreign policy,” said, the [Israeli] opposition leader. “It’s the collapse of a regional defense wall we started building against Iran.”
“China fully respects Middle Eastern countries as the masters of their own affairs.” -Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang
Bill Gates doesn’t understand AI risks
According to Elon Musk:
Global conflict tracker
I happened across this tool from the Council on Foreign Relations. It gives a very good overview of the world.
I found this discussion on stock-based compensation (and accounting tricks that have come with it) fascinating. Clip for 7 minutes:
Virtues of trophy hunting?
From a leading article in The Spectator:
the Oxford conservationist Professor Amy Dickman – herself a vegetarian and no fan of hunting – has pointed out, African countries which have a trophy hunting industry also happen to be those which have been most successful at boosting the numbers of rare species. The two things are not unconnected. Trophy hunting is a £200 million a year industry which provides ample funds for conservation work, as well as providing a strong incentive to ensure healthy numbers of animals. It has been credited with restoring populations of lions and rhinos. In Kenya, by contrast, which banned trophy hunting three decades ago, populations of wild animals have been declining as land is turned over to agriculture.
Second-order consequences strike again.
Thank you for reading. If you got something out of this, please share it with one person you know who might benefit from it.