Politics and economics

Michael Geruso, Dean Spears, Ishaana Talesara, 19 October 2019

The candidate who won the popular vote in the US has not won the presidency four times in the past two centuries, most recently in 2016. This column uses state-level voting data in presidential races extending back to 1836 to examine just how likely these Electoral College inversions are. The findings suggest that in 45% of presidential races decided by less than one percent of the vote, the popular vote winner will lose. Over the last 30 years, the probability has been about 70% that if an inversion occurs, it would have been a Democratic popular vote majority but a Republican Electoral College win.

Li Yang, Filip Novokmet, Branko Milanovic, 09 October 2019

The historically unprecedented economic and social transformation in China over the past four decades has seen urban areas becoming much richer, but also much more unequal. This column analyses changes in the Chinese urban elite. It finds that, compared to the 1980s, the elite today consists mainly of professionals, self-employed, and smaller and larger business people, they are much better educated, and they receive a much greater share of total urban income. This is reflected also in the composition of the Communist Party of China.

Benedict Clements, Sanjeev Gupta, Saida Khamidova, 06 October 2019

Worldwide military spending as a percentage of GDP in the years since the Global Crisis has been at nearly half its level during the Cold War. This column identifies three groups into which spending has been converging. It also shows that external threat levels are a factor in determining military spending, but only in developing economies. The results suggest a significant peace dividend from reducing internal conflicts, with a country that moves from the bottom 25% to the top 25% of developing countries on political stability and the absence of violence/terrorism likely to reduce military spending by about half a percentage point of GDP. 

Irena Grosfeld, Seyhun Orcan Sakalli, Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 03 October 2019

It is commonly argued that political instability increases the likelihood of civil conflicts, while economic downturns can trigger civil conflict and aggravate ethnic violence. This column examines how political and economic factors interact to drive pogroms in an environment of widespread antisemitism, using data from the Russian Empire of the 19th and early 20th centuries. It finds that pogrom waves took place when and only when economic shocks coincided with political turmoil, and that occupational segregation between the Jews and the majority played an important role in triggering ethnic violence.  

Patrick Honohan, Martin Sandbu, 27 September 2019

Patrick Honohan took over as governor of the Central Bank of Ireland in 2009 with the economy in meltdown, and steered it through its deepest crisis. His new book re-examines what happened, and lessons for future crises. Tim Phillips talks to Patrick and the FT's Martin Sandbu about what policymakers and central bankers can learn from Ireland's ordeal.

 

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