Blogreading Session 1

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Notes on The big sanctions: A quick explainer - by Noah Smith

  • SWIFT is a communication platform banks use to talk with each other securly and reliably
  • The argument tht cutting Russia out of SWIFT will make Russia go to China for solutions is not valid. This thread is cited
  • Ways in which this will make Ruble fall in value
    • Getting booted from SWIFT makes it less desirable to keep your money in Rubles. This could provoke runs on Russian Banks and potentially cause
      • banking collapse, which would devistate personal wealth
      • force the govournment to engage in bailouts, which would cause inflation and erode rich Russians' wealth
    • Harder to pay for imports. E.g. how are you going to change your currency to Euros to buy German machines?
    • As Russian companies try to convert their money into Euros, they will offer discount prices using whatever is available (because SWIFT isn't)
  • There's a loophole in the SWIFT action: it still allows Russian banks to send messages related to energy payments; it won't kill the Russian economy. Therefore, what's currently happening is symbolic. It sends the message that the EU is ready to use SWIFT as leverage—hopefully making Russian players put pressure on Putin to stop the assault.
  • The SWIFT ban needs to be combined with bank sanctions on Russian banks. Otherwise Russia would just be able to use intermediaries, like China and Iran, to buy EU/US imports,.
  • Freezing the Central Bank of Russia's reserves is going to make it hard for the Central Bank to stop the Ruble from sliding.
  • Furthermore, freezing the Central Bank's assets makes it vulnerable to attacks from Currency Tradors/Speculators: they might start short-selling the rubles in order to run the central bank out of reserves, so the currency plunges and they make a profit.
  • Freezing the assets of Oligarchs might result in alot of internal pressure to stop the conflict, or deposition of Putin. The good thing about this method is that it doesn't (immediately) hurt regular Russian people (though long term who knows what will happen).

Notes on Why Lots of Love (or Motivation) Isn't Enough - Alfie Kohn

  • What matters is not so much how motivated someone is, it's whether they are intrinsically or extrinsically motivated.
  • Makes a similar point about Love. It's what kind of love you get that matters.
  • And Self esteem. It's what kind of self esteem you have that matters.

The crucial determinant of stability, in turn, seems to be unconditionality. A solid core of belief in yourself, an abiding sense that you’re competent and worthwhile — even when you screw up or fall short — creates a more reliable (and healthier) form of self-esteem. Conversely, if you think well of yourself only to the extent that you’re successful or attractive or appreciated by others — if you regard self-esteem as something that’s perpetually in doubt — then you’re in for trouble, psychologically speaking.

It’s a neat parallel: The level of esteem one has for oneself, just like the amount of love children receive from their parents, doesn’t tell the whole story. Actually, it’s more than a parallel because these lines intersect. Being accepted unconditionally is what allows children to accept themselves unconditionally. Or to put it the other way around, conditional acceptance predicts conditional self-acceptance — and poorer psychological health.

Notes on Book Review: How Asia Works - by Scott Alexander