Tuesday, October 23, 2012

ASET Bookclub Oct. 24 - possible discussion questions

The Next Convergence – by Michael Spence

1. What is your reaction to “Our natural instincts to look for a villain, some human constraint that held in place . . ." (17) provides an insight into a question that our book group has raised during a number of meetings and that continually reflect upon - How do beliefs persist that seem to be in conflict with the world, for example, minimum wage other price controls effectively address questions of economic welfare.

2. Chapter 6 is, important, for the reinforcement of William Easterly's critique of the mainstream foreign aid thesis. Thinking back to the end of chapter 2, I wonder how effective the analysis in this chapter would be to an audience that is primarily operating with a "snapshot" perspective that generates a belief in the efficacy of policies such as aid.

3. What was your evaluation of Spence's treatment of comparative advantage in chapter 10 in contrasting the dynamic nature of comparative advantage with the static view of the world held by some, including many public leaders? How well does Spence support his conclusion that the consequence of this dynamic comparative advantage is "Sustained growth and structural change go hand in hand?" (67).

4. I am looking forward to our discussion of chapter 11 and the role of government is supporting growth. That discussion will be, I hope, informed by the first two paragraphs on page 71 as well as the contentions outlined in the past paragraph on page 105.

5. What is your reaction to the role that Spence outlines for the public sector in the investment areas of education and infrastructure? Public education is at the center of our next book The Race between Education and Technology.

6. Spence finds 4 attributes of government involvement in society that is positively related to growth (106): How would you evaluate point 4 and critique Spence's chapter 17 analyses.

7. I also wonder, to what extent, there are constructive responses to what Spence sees (third paragraph of page 113) as the common causes of poor economic performance. 8. On pages 134-5 Spence roughly outlines an emergence in the interplay between domestic and global financial regimes that seems to be shaped by state action and regulation. What is your view of this presentation?

9. The hot button that I suspect will generate significant levels of conversation in October is found on page 145 - "The prevailing view now is that this [financial crisis] was largely a failure of regulation. Regulatory failures surely contributed, but it was more than that." I wonder how our group will react to the discussion of the role of "regulatory and self-regulatory components"(146).

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