Así piensan los pobres... y así podrá ayudarlos. Ángela Méndez

Vía Francisco Capella.

Artículo sobre el libro Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty de Abhijit V. Banerjee y Esther Duflo.

Aquí pueden leer un extracto adaptado del libro, realizado por los autores del mismo.


“¡Prefiero una televisión que más comida!”. Ésta fue la respuesta de un campesino de una remota aldea de Marruecos cuando los autores del libro le preguntaron por qué tenía un buen televisor, parabólica y DVD cuando su casa no disponía de agua corriente, las condiciones sanitarias eran pésimas y su despensa estaba casi vacía. Estos bienes materiales son sólo un ejemplo de cómo emplean los pobres su dinero: las bodas y funerales son dos de las celebraciones a las que destinan gran cantidad de dinero. Es más, en muchas ocasiones se endeudan para organizar un enlace matrimonial de manera fastuosa, aunque eso luego suponga reducir la ración de comida. La explicación es fácil, los pobres a menudo no creen que los maravillosos planes que provienen de los países desarrollados funcionen. Son reacios y escépticos acerca de las supuestas nuevas oportunidades. Se centran en el aquí y ahora y, por eso, buscan formas de hacer más entretenida y agradable su vida.

Hayek's Ghost Haunts the World. Jeffrey A. Tucker


Hayek gave a series of lectures based on his previous works in German that tried to explain that the ruling elite and their theoretical apparatus had it all wrong.
In a thousand different ways he said the same thing: "To combat the depression by a forced credit expansion is to attempt to cure the evil by the very means which brought it about."
Further, "because we are suffering from a misdirection of production, we want to create further misdirection — a procedure that can only lead to a much more severe crisis as soon as the credit expansion comes to an end."

He concludes, already in 1932: "We must not forget that, for the last six or eight years, monetary policy all over the world has followed the advice of the stabilizers. It is high time that their influence, which has already done harm enough, should be overthrown."
Note the constant focus: the root of the problem is to be found in the boom, not the bust.

And here we have the heart of the difference between Hayek and Keynes: one knew that markets work to give us the best of all possible worlds, while governments create and exacerbate malfunctions; the other imagined that governments were somehow capable of both perceiving and correcting malfunctions by means of the printing press, provided the right technocrats are in charge.

Read full article.

The Mark of a Masterpiece. The man who keeps finding famous fingerprints on uncelebrated works of art. David Grann


Every few weeks, photographs of old paintings arrive at Martin Kemp’s eighteenth-century house, outside Oxford, England. Many of the art works are so decayed that their once luminous colors have become washed out, their shiny coats of varnish darkened by grime and riddled with spidery cracks. Kemp scrutinizes each image with a magnifying glass, attempting to determine whether the owners have discovered what they claim to have found: a lost masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci.

Kemp, a leading scholar of Leonardo, also authenticates works of art—a rare, mysterious, and often bitterly contested skill. His opinions carry the weight of history; they can help a painting become part of the world’s cultural heritage and be exhibited in museums for centuries, or cause it to be tossed into the trash. His judgment can also transform a previously worthless object into something worth tens of millions of dollars. (His imprimatur is so valuable that he must guard against con men forging not only a work of art but also his signature.) To maintain independence, Kemp refuses to accept payment for his services. “As soon as you get entangled with any financial interest or advantage, there is a taint, like a tobacco company paying an expert to say cigarettes are not dangerous,” he says.

Read full story.