Illustration: The $5 Silver Certificate from the 1896 Series The $5 Silver Certificate from the 1896 Series

Lessons for the Euro from America’s Past

In discussions about the EU monetary union the United States have been oftentimes set as an example, though the US didn’t really have a common currency until 1863, nearly eighty years after independence, and didn’t have the central bank until 1913. For all intents and purposes the US didn’t really have a common fiscal policy with automatic fiscal stabilizers until 1950s. It emerged only after a massive political conflict. Before the Civil War there was the kind of political strife that Europe is currently undergoing. To what extent could the timescale for the EU be different?

A talk by Professor Jeffry Frieden, Professor of Government at Harvard University. He specializes in the politics of international monetary and financial relations. Frieden is the author of Currency Politics: The Political Economy of Exchange Rate Policy (2015); and (with Menzie Chinn) of Lost Decades: The Making of America’s Debt Crisis and the Long Recovery (2011).

The United States Centre at LSE

The Machiavelli of Maryland

Edward Luttwak; drawing by David Levine

“People contact Edward Luttwak with unusual requests. The prime minister of Kazakhstan wants to find a way to remove ethnic Russians from a city on his northern border; a major Asian government wants a plan to train its new intelligence services; an Italian chemical company wants help settling an asbestos lawsuit with a local commune; a citizens’ group in Tonga wants to scare away Japanese dolphin poachers from its shores; the London Review of Books wants a piece on the Armenian genocide; a woman is having a custody battle over her children in Washington DC – can Luttwak “reason” with her husband? And that is just in the last 12 months.”

Military strategist, classical scholar, cattle rancher – and an adviser to presidents, prime ministers, and the Dalai Lama. Just who is Edward Luttwak? And why do very powerful people pay vast sums for his advice?

A boy carries buckets to fill with water from a public tap amid an acute shortage of water Oct. 13, 2015, on the outskirts of Sanaa, Yemen Oct. 13, 2015, on the outskirts of Sanaa, Yemen. Photo by Quinn Kelley

Water Wars

Fresh water, the most precious resource, is disappearing. In this episode, we look at what’s happening in places that already are running out of water. From the outside, fighting in Yemen looks like a sectarian conflict, but that may be the world’s first water war. In California, farmers are pumping up enormous amounts of groundwater to keep their crops alive. This is taking a serious toll on the land, which has been deflating steadily – like a leaky air mattress. Reporter Nathan Halverson takes us to the fastest-sinking town in America and talks with scientists, farmers and residents about what this means for some of the nation’s most productive farmland.
One of the biggest consumers of water is meat production. It takes a staggering amount of water to produce just a single hamburger patty. But what if there were a way to re-create the burger using a fraction of the water? Cutting-edge science is creating lab-made alternative meats without sacrificing taste.


Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook’s Hardest Year, and What Comes Next

Has Facebook become too big to manage, and too dangerous when it fails? Should the social infrastructure of the global community be managed by a corporation headquartered in Northern California? What’s Zuckerberg’s reply to Apple CEO Tim Cook, who says the social media giant’s business model is at odds with its users’ interests? And how has all this changed Zuckerberg’s ambitions for Facebook’s future, and confidence in its mission?

Mark Zuckerberg has long held that the company’s mission is to make the world more open and connected — with the assumption being that a more open and connected world is a better world. But a more open world can make it easier for governments to undermine each other’s elections from afar; a more connected world can make it easier to spread hatred and incite violence.

The Ezra Klein Show

Is Talent a Thing?

Is the concept of talent so ill-defined as to be useless, when hiring people? Entrepreneur and author Margaret Heffernan argues that we need something new, as good grades and top degrees have proved no guarantee of high performance in the workplace. She talks to the recent head of HR (or “people operations”) at Google, the pioneer of the concept of a “growth mindset”, and the academic who found people’s intelligence increased over the course of the 20th century. She also speaks about other measures like “grit”, “cultural fit” and how to interview people to find the candidate who is best for the job and the company, rather than the one you like.

Analysis – BBC Radio 4

Power of Dead People

Our lives are controlled by invisible hands from the grave. Trillions of dollars of the US economy are devoted to executing the wishes of people who died long ago, rather than satisfying the needs, preferences, and values of those living now. Philosopher Barry Lam follows the story of the Hershey fortune to show how a 19th century industrialist constructed the oddest business structure to ensure that his idiosyncratic wishes would be fulfilled hundreds of years after his death. The story raises questions about why we give the dead so much power over our lives, and what this says about how we find meaning in our own lives given foreknowledge of our mortality.

Hi-Phi Nation

Channel Island of Jersey

The Fall of Jersey: How a Tax Haven Goes Bust

Jersey bet its future on finance but since 2007 it has fallen on hard times and is heading for bankruptcy. The government is left with a “black hole” in the annual budget. “Filling it will take the equivalent of shutting down every school in the island, laying off every teacher, letting the parks turn into overgrown jungles and having our roads literally fall apart.” Who are the winners?

The Guardian’s Audio Long Reads

Zatoichi, the Blind Swordsman, Illustration by Yuko Shimizu Zatoichi, the Blind Swordsman, Illustration by Yuko Shimizu

How Going Blind Helped Isaac Lidsky See More Clearly

Sight. It’s something we all take for granted…until it stops working the way it’s supposed to. Our guest today went from fully sighted to completely blind when he was a teenager. His name is Isaac Lidsky and he will explain to us why he thinks that going blind was “one of the best things that ever happened to me”. Among his accomplishments since going blind are graduating from Harvard Law School, clerking at the U.S. Supreme Court, working at a high-powered corporate law firm in NYC, and turning around a struggling construction business that now earns over $70 million in yearly revenue. During this time he also was busy being the dad of triplets.

The Art of Manliness

Two Boeing 747 passenger jets collide on the runway at Los Rodeos Airport on island of Tenerife. Two Boeing 747 passenger jets collide on the runway at Los Rodeos Airport on island of Tenerife, 1977

The Most Mysterious Air Disasters

The most puzzling airplane crashes, plausible explanations, and corners cut by airline companies. All revealed by a crash investigator, journalist and documentary producer Christine Negroni . Christine has more than fifteen years’ experience participating in the international effort to create safer skies. She is the author of “The Crash Detectives: Investigating the World’s Most Mysterious Air Disasters”.

Little Atoms

1000 Francs COMOROS

The Bizarre Scheme to Transform a Remote Island into the New Dubai

How Comoros attempted and failed to develop the market for passports and citizenship. “It was a sign of the times – before the collapse of the global financial system, or the Arab revolutions – that it did not seem entirely unlikely that a well-connected global citizen could transform a destitute archipelago into a Hawaii for Arabs.”

The Guardian’s Audio Long Reads