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Noel Maurer
I'm a university professor.
Interests: My current research asks whether foreign governments or international institutions can improve economic governance. Is it possible to alter a country’s property rights system from the outside? This research has two prongs. The first is a historical work, tentatively entitled Imperial Experiments: Intervention, Economic Growth, and Property Rights, which tests various hypotheses about the success and failure of American attempts to improve economic governance outside the United States and protect the property rights of U.S. investors before World War II. The second is a series of contemporary case studies about attempts to alter nations’ internal economic governance from the outside: bilateral investment treaties, investor protection clauses in trade agreements, conditional loans, the “mortgaging” of export revenues, vulture funds, and military intervention. I also watch a lot of baseball, enjoy very bad music, and do a lot of travelling. The travel tends to be either in total luxury, or to places where I need to wear body armor and live in constant fear of, well, death.
Recent Activity
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First, everybody hates Carlos Menem. The Cronista ran a weird poll asking which Argentine administration since 1983 has been the most democratic. The answers make no sense, as befitting a question which makes no sense. But Carlos Memem managed to... Continue reading
Posted Jul 18, 2018 at The Power and the Money
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There is no doubt that AMLO intends to construct a new political machine. The question is whether doing so will degrade the quality of Mexican democracy or Mexican governance. (These are correlated but not the same.) In a couple of... Continue reading
Posted Jul 16, 2018 at The Power and the Money
So, Donald Trump wants to turn America’s hegemony into a protection racket. Okay, then. How would those negotiations go? First thing to do is estimate how much the U.S. could save by pulling out of Germany, Japan, and South Korea.... Continue reading
Posted Jul 16, 2018 at The Power and the Money
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Literally, “hacer boleta” is just an odd way of saying “design a ballot” or “print out a ticket.” The other expression in the title, “ser boleta” makes no sense at all, unless you happen to be a ticket. In Argentina,... Continue reading
Posted Jul 8, 2018 at The Power and the Money
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In comments, Andrei Gomberg writes that the biggest danger from the new AMLO government is the construction of an effective political machine and the slow subjugation of the independent parts of the Mexican state: I think you miss the real... Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2018 at The Power and the Money
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I should and will write more about the Mexican elections and the future of Pemex. Especially given the food for thought Andrei Gomberg presented here! Instead, though, I want to write about swearing in Argentina. In my travels to and... Continue reading
Posted Jul 4, 2018 at The Power and the Money
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Wow. AMLO cleared an outright majority. That was impressive and a sign of just how fed-up Mexicans were with the status quo. I saw some signs of that last summer; now it is confirmed. Seven initial thoughts: AMLO is not... Continue reading
Posted Jul 2, 2018 at The Power and the Money
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Earlier we pointed out that Mexican presidents need an effective legislative majority of two-thirds to get much of anything done, since so much legislation requires constitutional amendments. Did AMLO’s coalition pass that threshold? We won’t know for sure for a... Continue reading
Posted Jul 2, 2018 at The Power and the Money
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Spain, you might have heard, is a sunny place. Strangely, the designers of Spain’s early renewable policies did not realize this. They established a feed-in tariff, in which utilities have to buy all generated renewable electricity at a fixed price.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 14, 2018 at The Power and the Money
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When we left the Catalan secession crisis last October, the secessionists had backed down. They decided that setting up a parallel state would come at too high a cost. But we warned: “There is the possibility that the crisis will... Continue reading
Posted Jun 3, 2018 at The Power and the Money
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It has been an exciting week in European politics. I’m in Spain, where a corruption scandal just brought down Mariano Rajoy. Spain is near Italy, where the President just refused to ratify a ministerial appointment and then agreed to a... Continue reading
Posted Jun 2, 2018 at The Power and the Money
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I wrote this almost a week ago, but forgot to hit “post.” With today’s further fall in the peso to 25 per dollar, it sadly remains relevant. So ... Why is Argentina going to the IMF at all? Why not... Continue reading
Posted May 14, 2018 at The Power and the Money
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Back in February, I noted that the Argentine president has too much power, which might be a cause of Argentina’s bad governance. It turns out that I noted the same thing back in 2008. Cristina had just lost a Congressional... Continue reading
Posted May 9, 2018 at The Power and the Money
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That’s “amendable,” not “amenable.” Too many observers have recently declared that Mexico’s energy reform is safe, because it was enshrined in the Mexican constitution as an amendment. And why would they be wrong? Amendments certainly look difficult to change. It... Continue reading
Posted May 9, 2018 at The Power and the Money
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The Trump Organization recently sent a letter to the president of Panama in regards to a legal dispute over a Trump-branded property. The letter listed some putative irregularities in the legal proceedings and asked the President of Panama to intervene... Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2018 at The Power and the Money
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In 2011, John Quiggin hypothesized that we were on the verge of eliminating old fashioned tyranny, “in the historical sense of absolute rule by an individual who has seized power, rather than acquiring it by inheritance or election.” I can... Continue reading
Posted Mar 14, 2018 at The Power and the Money
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It is astounding to realize just how much power the President of the Argentine Republic possesses. This came home to me while I was checking over how President Macri recently tightened the immigration laws. Context: Argentina has a rather liberal... Continue reading
Posted Feb 15, 2018 at The Power and the Money
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The rash of earthquakes afflicting Oklahoma is old news. The cause appears to be backwash from fracking operations being pumped into old abandoned oil and gas wells. Lubricated rocks slip, and thus earthquakes where none were before. But now Groningen,... Continue reading
Posted Feb 15, 2018 at The Power and the Money
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In 2015, I predicted that Colombia would not chop three zeros off the peso until the May 2018 presidential election. The last time around, Congress balked at the cost of replacing the bills. In 2016, though, the Colombian central bank... Continue reading
Posted Feb 14, 2018 at The Power and the Money
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Lyman Stone has a post up about population growth in the Caribbean. It’s interesting stuff; worth reading. But it suffers from a historical mistake. I am hesitant to point out this mistake because Lyman has recently been beaten up by... Continue reading
Posted Feb 14, 2018 at The Power and the Money
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Back in March of 2016, we suggested that a Trump administration could repeal NAFTA and claim that Mexico was paying for the wall via higher tariffs. A static back-of-envelope calculation implied that the U.S. would receive about $2 billion a... Continue reading
Posted Jan 11, 2018 at The Power and the Money
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In 1790, North Carolina ceded its western territories to the federal government in payment for the federal assumption of its revolutionary debts. In March 1796, the Southwest Territory unilaterally declared that it was now a state. The legislature elected two... Continue reading
Posted Jan 11, 2018 at The Power and the Money
New information emerged fast regarding that drone attack in Syria. From the Washington Post: Nobody seems to know who was responsible. Yesterday we noted that the Islamic State controlled no more territory; experts suspect a different rebel group was responsible;... Continue reading
Posted Jan 10, 2018 at The Power and the Money
One day we have to continue our fisking of Ghost Fleet. I don’t like panning anything, but the book was full of howlers. Fine for fiction, but it was dispiriting to see so many people take it so seriously. But... Continue reading
Posted Jan 9, 2018 at The Power and the Money
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The pension reform passed the lower house yesterday on a vote of 127-117. The legislative process has been fine, notwithstanding the near-fistfight on the floor and a lot of disingenuous rhetoric from the government. In those terms, and those terms... Continue reading
Posted Dec 20, 2017 at The Power and the Money