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Thoughts from the Frontline Archive, October 2021

When Tools Stop Working
  • October 22, 2021

When Tools Stop Working

Because I believe in the division of labor, I rarely use hand tools today. In the ‘80s and ‘90s, I had two 4 x 8 pegboards on my garage wall full of tools along with my large Craftsman toolbox. I had the right tool for every job around the car, house, and yard. I worked on the plumbing, electricity, built rooms, and flooring. My current friends might not believe it, but I was quite handy back then. It was almost a bit of a fetish.

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Logistical Sandpiles
  • October 15, 2021

Logistical Sandpiles

At the risk of overusing a favorite metaphor, today we’ll talk about sandpiles. My past sandpile stories focused on financial crises. The same principle holds in any complex system, though. Everything works until suddenly it doesn’t. As Minsky said, stability breeds instability. Then one additional grain of sand triggers a collapse.

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China’s Gilded Age Is Over
  • October 8, 2021

China’s Gilded Age Is Over

Historical comparisons are always risky. This is particularly so when comparing different eras in vastly different countries like the US and China. Similarities can actually obscure more important differences.

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Xi’s Changing Plan
  • October 1, 2021

Xi’s Changing Plan

Six months ago, few Americans had heard of Evergrande. Now many worry this Chinese property developer’s downfall will start an economically devastating chain reaction.

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