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Data hoarding

You have a rosy view of the use of current, high frequency data in economics, which you describe as a “third wave” in the discipline (“The Real Time Revolution,” 23 October). However, there is a big downside. Not everyone has equal access to these figures, especially to data collected by the private sector. This unequal access will widen the gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots”. Democracies cannot function properly if citizens do not have the ability to access the economic information needed to make good economic and electoral decisions. Basing a policy on summary statistics from inaccessible microdata with many possible loopholes will only increase mistrust.

Former Head of Division
Price and index research
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Washington, CC

The connection you made between the value of real-time information and Salvador Allende’s Cybersyn project is a reminder of a lost opportunity. One of Allende’s main advisers when he was President of Chile was Stafford Beer, a visionary cyberneticist, then at Manchester Business School, who proposed the pioneering viable system model. Some of us weren’t quite sure about Stafford’s connection to reality, but it was our mistake. If Allende had survived, we might now be much further along in this burgeoning field of analysis and administration. Still, better late than never.


Structural differences

Ursula von der Leyen may have been a little optimistic when she welcomed the opening of the Svilaj Bridge between Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina (“Bigger is better”, 9 October). Bridges in the Balkans have unfortunate connotations. Peljesac Bridge is praised by its supporters for unifying Croatia but denigrated by critics for bypassing Bosnia. The Mitrovica Bridge in northern Kosovo exists either as a tenuous link between Serbs and Albanians or as an impassable barrier, depending on your perspective. The Mostar Bridge exploded during fighting between Croats and Bosnians, who had been allies at the start of the Yugoslav civil war.

Before the European Union can even consider enlargement, it must deal with these and other festering wounds, such as the contested waters between Slovenia, Italy and Croatia. These problems may seem minor, but they mean a lot to those who live there.


Shakespearean phraseology

Echoing Hamlet, you said that vaccine mandates in poor countries are often “honored in the breach”, suggesting that edicts are broken (“Strictly come jabbing”, October 23). Shakespeare’s phrase has a more nuanced meaning. In the passage where Hamlet says that the Danish custom of alcoholic festivities is “more honored in violation than in observance,” he means that it is more honorable to ignore the custom of drunken drinking than to follow it. Shakespeare is therefore referring to a practice that is better to ignore than to follow, not just one that is often ignored.


You claim that Singapore’s Foreign Interference Countermeasures Act (FICA) would allow the government to compel Internet companies to take action against hostile information campaigns “without giving any reason” (“Foreign employment, October 23).

Under Articles 20 and 21 of the FICA, the government can issue instructions only if such a campaign is undertaken by or on behalf of a foreign principal, and when the instruction is necessary or timely in the public interest. The minister explained to Parliament that national security concerns make it impracticable to publish the reasons for the measures taken.

Government instructions against hostile information campaigns can be appealed to an independent tribunal, which is chaired by a Supreme Court judge and has the power to review and overturn the minister’s decisions. The tribunal would indeed provide controls similar to those of the tribunal, but without compromising sensitive information. This approach is similar to the approach taken in some Western countries, where decisions relating to national security are subject to review outside the ordinary judicial process.

However, all offenses under FICA must be prosecuted and proven beyond a reasonable doubt, as with any other offense.

Contrary to the impression you have given, the vast majority of day-to-day activities, including your reporting on Singapore, will not be the responsibility of FCIA.

TK Lim
Singapore High Commissioner

Dig deeper

After eight years in the US Army followed by 20 years in business, I fully agree with Bartleby’s skepticism about applying military mission values ​​to business (October 30). Changing uncertainties and testosterone infused competition are common to both worlds, but not much else. Over time, I have found the metaphors of gardening and cooking to be more useful for business than fighting and sports.


Thinking about corporate mission statements reminded me of Charles Mackay’s account of the South Sea Bubble in “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds,” published in 1841. know what it is ”.

La Paz, Mexico

Hydrogen financing

Uncertainty about future carbon prices may slow private investment in hydrogen (“A very big balancing act,” October 9). The German government offered carbon contracts for the difference (CCFDs) to alleviate the problem. As part of these contracts, the government and a company set a price at which its zero-carbon hydrogen technology would be competitive. Until the agreed carbon price is reached, the government pays the price difference to the company. Once the price is exceeded, the direction of payment is reversed.

CCFDs have three advantages. Carbon prices become predictable for the duration of the contract. Subsidized technology can compete with incumbent carbon emitters. And if carbon prices were to exceed the price set during the term of the contract, government subsidies could be clawed back and the need for the contract would disappear.

Tuttlingen, Germany

Dubai Expo
The Economist praises the apolitical character of the Universal Exhibition of 1851 (“The Exhibition. The Crystal Palace”, January 4, 1851). Surprisingly, today Economist believes that the Dubai Expo is silent on politics, based on a condescending interpretation of the first Expo held in our region (“The Wacky Pavilions”, October 16). Such a saturnine and hypocritical view is no less disappointing to be familiar.

The Olympics are where the world comes together to compete in sport. The United Nations is the place where the world comes together to discuss politics. Exhibitions are where the world comes together to share ideas, a platform for human progress.

For the first time in Expo history, 192 countries are coming together in Dubai, each with their own pavilion, meaning they are represented on an equal footing and with dignity. How nations and peoples choose to define their accomplishments and who they are is up to them. Those who have experienced a legacy of conflict, colonialism or adversity deserve respect and encouragement. Your article, based on the caricature of a handful of national pavilions, demonstrates a cultural myopia unworthy of our time. For anyone with an open mind, Expos are an opportunity to learn and be part of a larger human family.

We invite your readers to visit each other and form an opinion.

General Manager of Expo 2020 Dubai

Facebook fury

Your observations on the inconsistency of many Facebook reviews were helpful as far as they went (“Facepalm”, October 9). But the most vexing question is why, after years of frustrated policymakers calling for more regulation, and so many years of urging Facebook to do so, have lawmakers and regulators produced so little other than noise? Perhaps their inaction betrays an implicit recognition that the same human flaws that are distorted and magnified on Facebook are already legislated, and that the social network’s worst transgression is that it is as unflattering but depressingly accurate as it is. any high definition selfie.

General manager
Access partnership

The real Romance language

As an adult, I tried to learn the French language (Johnson, October 16). Our teacher, native French speaker, told us beginners to make too exaggerated facial gestures in order to produce common sounds in French. His reasoning was that we were trying to pronounce French with an English mouth and that we had to re-train our mouths to move correctly to produce the right sound.

If we ever had any doubts about how to pronounce something, she had a permanent rule: “When you speak French, you should always position your lips, so that if necessary, they are always in a position to give a kiss on. a few moments’ notice. “


A Polish Brexit?

Discuss Poland’s latest dispute with the EU, Charlemagne used the term “Polexit” to describe a potential way out of the impasse (October 16). Polexit sounds awkward and doesn’t stick out the tongue. Can I suggest “Pout” instead?


This article appeared in the Letters section of the print edition under the title “On economics, Balkan bridges, Shakespeare, mission statement, hydrogen, Facebook, French, Polexit”


About Alma Ackerman

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