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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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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 1 hour ago 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
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The Catalan election descended into utterly predictable chaos. The secessionists won, on poor turnout. But the Spanish national police idiotically decided to wade in wearing full stormtrooper gear, and now nobody knows what will happen. The Catalan premier, Carles Puigdemont,... Continue reading
Posted Oct 2, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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Steve Bannon made waves when he pointed out the conventional wisdom on a Second Korean War: a pyrrhic victory that would result in hundreds of thousands or millions of civilian deaths. Less noticed were some counter-comments by Trump administration officials,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 27, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 reserves shipping between American ports to American-built vessels with American crews. The reason was to protect the merchant marine from British, Norwegian and (especially) Japanese competition. After all, the U.S. wanted to be sure... Continue reading
Posted Sep 27, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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Four days ago, I worried that the smaller force of the recent quake meant that we could not be sure that better building standards were the reason fewer buildings collapsed. There was some pushback in comments, noting that the epicenter... Continue reading
Posted Sep 24, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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Hurricane Maria has devastated Puerto Rico. The worst part is the power system: as of right now, all generation assets are offline. All of them. The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) says it is going to resume normal functioning... Continue reading
Posted Sep 24, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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Mexico City seems to have come through this earthquake much better than it did in 1985. Earlier, I worried that the reason might be that the quake was far smaller on the Richter scale; Dwight Dyer, in comments, pointed out... Continue reading
Posted Sep 21, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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I am beginning to believe that PM Rajoy wants to push Catalonia into a unilateral declaration of independence. For he is snatching defeat from the jaws of victory and it makes no sense. Around the time of my last post,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 20, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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I do not have much to say about the quake, save that it is horrifying, and that fortunately it seems (we hope) that no one we know has been hurt, although several have been terrified. There are some places where... Continue reading
Posted Sep 19, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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Have you ever watched television commercials from the 1950s? They seem crude and unpersuasive, even silly. Political propaganda from the 1930s even more so and don’t get me started on print adverts from the 19th century. They actually persuaded people?... Continue reading
Posted Sep 18, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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The title of this post is obvious; I am not a college administrator. But apparently I have very different views of the soft skills that universities should try to develop. (I have my own opinions about the harder skills as... Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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The impending mess in Spain would not be happening save the People’s Party’s decision to take the 2006 Statute of Autonomy to court and the resulting court decision. That is not to say that the current impasse was inevitable given... Continue reading
Posted Sep 9, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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Cataluña ... Catalunya ... is going to vote on independence on October 1st. The vote is sanctioned by the Catalonian regional government but is illegal under Spanish law. A Spanish court, therefore, just blocked the referendum. So far, fine. Spanish... Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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So, Vox wrote a good review of the new HBO series, The Deuce. And it does sound like a good show. But then they reviewer blows up their credibility. With a caption reading “The series’ attention to detail is impressive,”... Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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First, pray for Miami. I have a love-hate relationship with that city, even deeper than my love-hate with Texas. I would not want to live in that entire metro, not in Miami-Dade, not in Fort Lauderdale, not in Palm Beach.... Continue reading
Posted Sep 7, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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We called it. Robert Mueller has announced that he is teaming up with Eric Schneiderman, the NYS attorney general. Right now the cooperation is about Manafort but we expect future announcements. As we pointed out, President Trump can only pardon... Continue reading
Posted Aug 31, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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I like Houston. I always have. It is a hideous city, way too car-dependent, and has a climate designed to get me to hate it. But I have friends there and I like Texans. I really like Texans. Which is... Continue reading
Posted Aug 27, 2017 at The Power and the Money