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Noel Maurer
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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It is astounding to realize just how much power the President of 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 immigration... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago 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 7 days ago 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
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It is summer in Buenos Aires. And it is proving to be a hot one. Political violence right before Christmas is a recent Argentine regularity. In December 1999, a protest by workers owed back salaries in Corrientes province grew out... Continue reading
Posted Dec 18, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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There is nothing really new in the piece. I am just laying out my thoughts, because I am a little confused. Which I suppose is standard for anyone trying to think about Brexit. Specifically, I am confused as to why... Continue reading
Posted Dec 15, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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Last post presented evidence that upward mobility was quite widespread in late 19th-century Argentina. The question is why? What made it so easy for immigrants to make America? Leticia Arroyo Abad (Middlebury) and Blanca Sánchez-Alonso (UCEU) give one plausible answer.... Continue reading
Posted Dec 8, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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Argentina, it is probably unnecessary to say on this blog, is a country of immigrants. Moreover, it is a country of immigrants from almost the same places as Brooklyn got immigrants back in the day, as this photograph shows. Argentines... Continue reading
Posted Dec 6, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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The long Twitter debate between Pseudoerasmus and Gabe Mathy was triggered by an essay in Jacobin by my friend and colleague Suresh Naidu. He wrote a piece about what North America would have been like had the native population avoided... Continue reading
Posted Dec 3, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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Today Argentina is not known for having a large black population. Being a country of Europeans is a deep part of Argentina’s national identity. The census stopped recording race in 1869. A bit more than 80 years later, when Josephine... Continue reading
Posted Nov 30, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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Mostly, it isn’t. But there is a sign of a disturbing history deep in the genetic heritage of most Puerto Ricans. And contrary to the popular belief, there may be some trace of the same history in Argentina. Some background.... Continue reading
Posted Nov 29, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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In the last post, I discussed Canada’s mysterious productivity gap with the United States. It appears to have been rather long-lasting. The current explanation is that the gap derives the fact that Canada is a smaller market and firms therefore... Continue reading
Posted Nov 23, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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So, to continue with my recent interest in Canadiana, impelled by, well, being in Canada! There is an interesting puzzle about Canadian economic development. Well, there are many many interesting puzzles, but what particularly grabs my attention at this moment... Continue reading
Posted Nov 12, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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Montreal is a fascinating place. And so, in honor of being here, a few random Canadian posts. You may be aware of the recent Australian citizenship kerfuffle. Basically, the Australian constitution prevents anyone with double-citizenship from holding public office. The... Continue reading
Posted Nov 10, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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Well, so far it looks like Rajoy’s bet is paying off. Catalan officials are obeying orders; Catalan ministers are leaving their posts. Puigdemont is in Brussels when he could be in Barcelona leading a revolt. Crisis over! Except ... no.... Continue reading
Posted Oct 31, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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I have been trying to figure out the game Rajoy is playing. It is not immediately obvious. Backwards induction led Puigdemont to back down from declaring independence. Backwards induction should then have led Rajoy to accept Puigdemont’s “suspension.” Rajoy should... Continue reading
Posted Oct 27, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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Enough about Catalonia! What about point-to-point travel to anywhere on Earth in less than 45 minutes? That is the future Arthur C. Clarke promised me when I read Rendezvous with Rama as a boy ... and now that is the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 15, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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Here is the TL;DR version of the last post. Catalonia runs a budget deficit with the rest of Spain. That is disguised because Madrid kicks back a large chunk of Catalonia’s tax revenue in the form of soft loans. In... Continue reading
Posted Oct 14, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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We have moved down the game tree one step towards sensibility! Premier Puigdemont declared that Catalunya has the moral right to secede but will not declare independence. Relief! Except, well, now the Spanish government needs to decide its response. The... Continue reading
Posted Oct 12, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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Transparency International has released its new report on corruption in Latin America. One of the things that I like about the survey is that it asked whether respondents have personally had to pay a bribe. Let’s call it “retail corruption,”... Continue reading
Posted Oct 10, 2017 at The Power and the Money