Lessons for the Euro from America’s Past


In discussions about the EU monetary union the United States have been oftentimes set as an example, though the US didn’t really have a common currency until 1863, nearly eighty years after independence, and didn’t have the central bank until 1913. For all intents and purposes the US didn’t really have a common fiscal policy with automatic fiscal stabilizers until 1950s. It emerged only after a massive political conflict. Before the Civil War there was the kind of political strife that Europe is currently undergoing. To what extent could the timescale for the EU be different?

A talk by Professor Jeffry Frieden, Professor of Government at Harvard University. He specializes in the politics of international monetary and financial relations. Frieden is the author of Currency Politics: The Political Economy of Exchange Rate Policy (2015); and (with Menzie Chinn) of Lost Decades: The Making of America’s Debt Crisis and the Long Recovery (2011).
Illustration: The $5 Silver Certificate from the 1896 Series

The United States Centre at LSE | 19th January 2016

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Supplements and Safety

supplements_and_safety_1It’s estimated there are 85,000 dietary supplements for sale in the United States today. You might assume that some government agency has approved them before allowing them onto the market. Though the FDA does not do any review of dietary supplements before they come onto the market.

“It almost takes a sacrificial lamb to die of liver injury or some other injury before the Food and Drug Administration can take any action” – Herbert Bonkovsky, M.D.

People with health problems may need additional nutrients. But for most Americans, researchers don’t know for sure whether extra doses really help — and caution that in some cases, they might hurt. It’s incredibly hard to quantify the current problem, how much harm are supplements are doing. There’s no effective system to detect the harm.

It wasn’t until a major league pitcher, 23-year-old Steve Bechler died after taking a weight loss supplements containing an ingredient called ephedra, that sales were halted. By then, more than 160 deaths had been linked to the supplement. In another instance, the FDA has linked dietary supplement OxyElite Pro to more than 70 cases of liver damage. Are you safe?
Produced by Neil Docherty

Frontline | 19th January 2016

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The Machiavelli of Maryland

The Guardian’s Audio Long Reads | 15th January 2016

Edward Luttwak; drawing by David Levine

“People contact Edward Luttwak with unusual requests. The prime minister of Kazakhstan wants to find a way to remove ethnic Russians from a city on his northern border; a major Asian government wants a plan to train its new intelligence services; an Italian chemical company wants help settling an asbestos lawsuit with a local commune; a citizens’ group in Tonga wants to scare away Japanese dolphin poachers from its shores; the London Review of Books wants a piece on the Armenian genocide; a woman is having a custody battle over her children in Washington DC – can Luttwak “reason” with her husband? And that is just in the last 12 months.”

Military strategist, classical scholar, cattle rancher – and an adviser to presidents, prime ministers, and the Dalai Lama. Just who is Edward Luttwak? And why do very powerful people pay vast sums for his advice?
Written by Thomas Meaney, read by Lucy Scott and produced by Simon Barnard
Illustration: Edward Luttwak, drawing by David Levine

The Guardian’s Audio Long Reads | 15th January 2016

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The Experiment Experiment

the-experimentA famous psychologist published a series of studies that found people could predict the future — not all the time, but more often than if they were guessing by chance alone. The paper left psychologists with two options. “Either we have to conclude that ESP is true,” says Brian Nosek, a psychologist at the University of Virginia, “or we have to change our beliefs about the right ways to do science.” Nosek is going with Option B — and not just for psychology experiments. He thinks there’s something wrong with the way we’re doing science. And he launched a massive project to try to fix it.

Planet Money | 15th January 2016

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Economics of Migration

economics-of-migrationAre the British people worse off because of the immigrants? When in 2013 the Royal Statistical Society did a survey and asked people to name a percentage of the United Kingdom population that are not born in the UK, the average response was 31%, more than double the actual number – 12.5%. The talk starts with a description of change in migration levels and attitudes to it in the UK and other countries then focuses on the labor market impact of immigration. Do not wish for clear-cut answers!

The Department of Economics at LSE | 12th January 2016

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The Value of Deep Work in the Age of Distraction

the-value-of-deep-workHave you ever spent an entire day at work feeling really busy and yet at the end of the day you realize you weren’t very productive at all? And when you resolve to do better the next day and dig into deeper work, you find that you can’t focus. You still have an overpowering itch to check your email or scroll through your Instagram feed.
If that sounds familiar, this show is for you. Our guest, Cal Newport, is the author of So Good They Can’t Ignore You on how you shouldn’t necessarily follow your passion. He now has a new book called Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, and it’s just as insightful and paradigm-shifting as his last. In this podcast Cal and Brett discuss why being able to concentrate deeply on hard tasks is the skill that will set you apart in today’s marketplace and how deep work can lead to a more meaningful life.

The Art of Manliness | 12th January 2016

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The Fall of Jersey: How a Tax Haven Goes Bust

Jersey bet its future on finance but since 2007 it has fallen on hard times and is heading for bankruptcy. The government is left with a “black hole” in the annual budget. “Filling it will take the equivalent of shutting down every school in the island, laying off every teacher, letting the parks turn into overgrown jungles and having our roads literally fall apart.” Who are the winners?
Written by Oliver Bullough, read by Andrew McGregor and produced by Simon Barnard

The Guardian’s Audio Long Reads | 11th January 2016

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The Bizarre Scheme to Transform a Remote Island into the New Dubai

How Comoros attempted and failed to develop the market for passports and citizenship. “It was a sign of the times – before the collapse of the global financial system, or the Arab revolutions – that it did not seem entirely unlikely that a well-connected global citizen could transform a destitute archipelago into a Hawaii for Arabs.”
Written by Atossa Araxia Abrahamian, read by Ruth Barnes and produced by Simon Barnard

The Guardian’s Audio Long Reads | 4th January 2016

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