Monday, April 26, 2010

The comparative present

Thanks to Brad DeLong, from whom many good things come, I have just been alerted to the existence of the publication called Business Insider, which seems to have a real predilection for charts and lists illustrating current trends. This kind of thing can be either very useful or very deceptive, but I love it, even if a given example doesn't hold up very well under strict examination. Comparative material has a lot of potential to make people think, if they don't take the first analysis they see as the final word.

Business Insider first two lists of can which I found interesting. Some readers may remember that I am skeptical about alarmism in connection with demographic crises, especially crises of shrinking population. Business Insider offers us a list of 10 countries heading for a demographic crisis, and what is interesting here is that includes both countries with too much and too little population growth, and some detailed discussion of each. I haven't had the time to read it properly myself, but at least I think it will be worth reading.

The second list discusses 10 countries that have significant oil reserves
and can be expected to pump away in the "distant future," long after places like Saudi Arabia have run dry. Of course it is hard to say what the world will be like then anyway, but the list does alert me to a couple of things. One, Iran has a lot of oil, and so will continue to be a "trouble spot" no matter what the ideology of the people in charge. Two, Canada is on that list, which I find quite alarming but not entirely surprising. I would rather not be a "trouble spot."

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