Green capitalism

A few articles have got me thinking over the past couple of weeks. Ideologically, they have made this year kick off on a slightly “disorienting” foundation. Of particular note have been a long piece on ecology as well as a series on architecture. Yet also polemics on work ethic and class have been pondered long after putting them aside. Herewith a few scribbles.


Man walking in front of Shimizu HQ, the most eco-friendly office in Japan, so they say…

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As evident from the flurry of posts put up here over the last couple of days (buildings, Puerto Madero, Torre Dorego, Museo Xul Solar, Clorindo Testa and MAMBA/MACBA), my wife and I just got back from ten days in Buenos Aires (plus a short stopover in Lima on the way back). This was my second time in this fascinating city and country. Below some personal observations.


Veronica di Toro, Simetrica No. 16, 2009, on display at MACBA

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Hiatus, update

It’s been a while since I last posted anything. There is really no sole reason to blame for this hiatus – just a variety of things coming together. To make use of the diary aspect of blogging and to bridge the time until my focus returns, herewith some personal updates and thoughts just ahead of the holidays.


Zooming along the Den-en-toshi Line

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East Germany and Japan 2: economic cooperation

The 1980s are often described as the “lost decade” for much of the second and third world. East Germany was partly able to avoid economic malaise. That was partly the case because Japanese banks kept the tabs open while relations between the GDR and the East Asian miracle nation blossomed. Some further historical anecdotes after the jump.


Two icons of the 1980s GDR – Semperoper in Dresden and Mazda 323 parked to the far left next to more common vehicles Trabant, Lada, Skoda, and Wartburg; by Flickr user Felix O (creative commons)

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Economies of vastness

The New York Times ran an article about Kazakhstan’s rail network the other day. It made me think both of the country that I have had the pleasure of visiting frequently and a growing interest in the interdisciplinary world of spatial economics. Some hopefully related thoughts after the jump.

Kazansky Rail Terminal, train to Kazakhstan (Казанский Вокзал, поезд в Казахстан)

Kazakhstan rail wagon – in Kazan, Russia, by Flickr user Mikhail Shcherbakov (creative commons)

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Social Impact Bonds

I don’t get many comments on this blog but one of the few I did get urged me to look at social impact bonds (SIBs). It came in response to a critical post I wrote on impact investing. SIBs are a potentially major instrument in impact investing in which payback is linked to a pre-defined (social) outcome. Most of them don’t deserve the name bond as they exhibit more option-like characteristics. But that is not the only source of my theoretical confusion surrounding SIBs.


Again for a lack of a better photo – view down Broad Street, downtown Manhattan

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Export Germany

Germany has been the target of some stinging criticism as of late. The US Treasury and the IMF accused the Germans of running too large trade and current account surpluses. Germany is hence fuelling huge global imbalances, as these surpluses must by definition lead to equivalent deficits elsewhere. Is there any merit to this argument?


Berlin – TV Tower / Fernsehturm on foggy day

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China learning from Japan

I went to a presentation by Stephen Roach (former chief economist of Morgan Stanley) a couple of weeks ago. He started off with a good overview of current global financial imbalances. Yet I felt he fell short on delivering on the presentation title’s promise – showing how China can learn from Japan – in good ways and in bad. Some of the topics I would have liked to be seen addressed after the jump.


Shanghai haze viewed from Pudong

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