Quite a few months ago now I took part in a session on water at the Melbourne Writers Festival, where I got to meet Gwynne Dyer, whose work on international politics I’ve been reading for many decades and also Maude Barlow from Canada and Paul Sinclair of ACF. Peter Mares chaired the session and subsequently broadcast it on The National Interest. You can read the transcript here. There was a lot of agreement but also some fairly sharp disagreement: Maude Barlow took a localist line on food production while I stressed the need for Australia to remain an exporter of food (the audience tended to agree with Maude).

The great risk shift

I’ve spent the last couple of days at a workshop sponsored by the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia on shifting allocations of risk. Most of the papers were well underway when the collapse of global financial markets implied the need for a radical revision of thinking. So a lot of discussion was prefaced with “at least until the onset of the crisis, this trend was ….” Here’s my paper.

A long recession

The National Bureau of Economic Research Business Cycle Dating Committee has just announced its judgement that the current US recession began in December 2007. A year old, and the decline is just beginning to accelerate. As these forecasters quoted in the NY Times say, the recession is virtually certain to be the longest since World War II (in fact, since the 1929-33 slump), and quite possibly the deepest as well.

The only silver lining I can see is that we might not hear any more silliness about the “technical definition” of a recession being two quarters of negative growth.