Weekend Reads

For the profit and pleasure of subscribers, here's a few longer reads for the weekend on economic, social and political matters.

This piece by Peter Goodman in the New York Times on the backlash against globalisation is a long and essential read on the issue. He talks to workers on both sides of the Atlantic, including a worker at a Dutch port.

“More global trade is a good thing if we get a piece of the cake,” Mr. Duijzers said. “But that’s the problem. We’re not getting our piece of the cake.”

Martin Sandbu has also written an excellent piece at the FT on the globalisation backlash, and on the need for more policies to help the losers from globalisation and technology change adjust, and not to throw the baby of freer trade out with the bathwater.

"If economic globalisation, in the absence of policy countermeasures, leads to increased inequality of market incomes in rich countries, that should come as no surprise. It would be surprising if it didn’t. (Although technological and policy changes have probably had a bigger effect.) But national governments have recourse to plenty of tools to address this," Sanbu writes.

"There is plain redistribution, of course, which might involve expanding rather than rolling back the state. But countries also retain a lot of control over their labour markets. As Karen Helene Ulltveit-Moe points out, Norway has made use of this autonomy to stop downward pressure on the incomes and conditions of the low-paid that might otherwise have come with its membership of the EU single market. Norway has resorted to legal universalisation of collective bargaining outcomes; other countries can make more aggressive use of legal wage floors."

Branko Milanovic wrote this useful piece in Nature arguing that widening (and tightening) income inequality was cyclical, citing data from Spain going back to 1,200 AD.

Last week China signed its first deal to return stolen assets from a foreign country, as the SCMP reports. The deal with Canada was done between Li Keiqiang and Justin Trudeau looks to be the first of many, and is relevant for us given the recent deal William Yan did with the police here to forfeit NZ$43 million worth assets. There are also extradition treaty talks going on between Canada and China, and increasing concerns about the pressure being applied in Canada by Chinese officials, as the Globe and Mail reports here. It reported last week that China’s security services have been sending undercover agents into Canada on tourist visas to strong-arm expatriates to return home.

This piece from China's Caixin in May suggests China is quite focused on New Zealand, and how the lack of an extradition treaty is hampering China. It says New Zealand is the third favourite destination for Chinese fugitives. The report names two other officials being sought in New Zealand.

In the wake of the Sam Dastyari scandal, Gabrielle Chan writes in the Guardian about how expats are using soft power in Australia to push China's agenda there.

Verity Johnson has written a first-person account in Metro of what it was like for a long-time resident of the "rich" side of Auckland to work on the "poor" side of Auckland, in her case in a pawn shop that has set up a food bank.

Have a great weekend