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Commenter Polish Perspective draws attention to a startling new statistic: In my 2016 longread, I pointed out that China was converging with America on a broad range of hi-tech economy indicators. Now yes, Chinese papers have a reputation for shoddiness, being worse on average than Western ones, but absolute values do matter, and quality is... Read More
1. I do not consider it likely that North Korea will have the means to successfully deliver nukes to population concentrations in S. Korea, Japan, or the US. As far as I know this is expert consensus. It has had impressive successes in both nuclear weaponry and long-range rocketry in the past year, but there... Read More
Guangzhou, China (/r/Cyberpunk) Some time ago a commenter asked me about the state of China Studies in Russia, an issue that is pretty germane as they increasingly align with each other. TL;DR - Catastrophic. Simply put, Russia does not have the cognitive tools to understand the country that Kremlin talking points describe as Russia’s "strategic... Read More
For what my views are worth - which is very little, especially in China - I am always for freedom of speech. That said, it's worth clarifying that the late Liu Xiaobo was much more a Western nationalist than a genuine humans right activist. "[It would take] 300 years of colonialism. In 100 years of... Read More
* Reports just coming in that there has been a terrorist attack in Manchester. Manchester a pretty well-off city, by the standards of the English North-West, though the city's penchant for hedonism has given the city the lowest female life expectancy in England. 16% of the population are Muslims. Not as vibrant as Luton or... Read More
I once wrote a long article about a Korean War II. But this one chart tells essentually the same tale. I suspect it will be a harder nut to crack than Iraq in 2003, or even 1991. It is an ultranationalist (not a Communist) regime with a formidable secret police, so you're not going to... Read More
Here: There's just a few problems: (1) In a world without MAD, China will eventually become an unrivalled military hegemon, by dint of its unrivalled industrial capacity. (2) Of more immediate pertinence, does this include the couple thousand plus nuclear warheads that China might have tucked away in its 2,500km network of underground tunnels? This... Read More
Here is the download link: http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/education/pisa-2015-results-volume-i_9789264266490-en (1) China B-S-J-G (Beijing-Shanghai-Jiangsu-Guangdong) has a PISA-equivalent national IQ of 102. This is actually worse than the IQ=103 leaked 2009 results based on 12 provinces, which I posted about a few years ago. Even more curiously, Beijing, Shanghai, and Jiangsu all constitute three of the top five Chinese provinces... Read More
Nothing illustrates China's meteoric rise as some well chosen numbers. By the end of the 1990s, China had come to dominate the mainstays of geopolitical power in the 20th century - coal and steel production. As a consequence, it leapt to the top of the Compositive Index of National Capability, which uses military expenditure, military... Read More
I have often remarked that a convenient way to think about East Asian comparative economic development is to view its three biggest players - China, Japan, and South Korea - as being separated by twenty year "chunks" of development, with Japan being on its leading edge and China being its laggard. For instance, here is... Read More
apollos-ascent-front-cover
HBD, Hive Minds, and H+
Today is the publication date of Hive Mind, a book by economist Garett Jones on the intimate relationship between average national IQs and national success, first and foremost in the field of economics. I do intend to read and review it ASAP, but first some preliminary comments. This is a topic I have been writing... Read More
There is, once again, widespread excitement about the prospects of the Indian economy. This comes on the heel of news that India's Q3 growth has now marginally edged above China's, after a statistical adjustment. Can we now expect the Elephant to replace the Dragon as the motor of the world economy? At times like these... Read More
"The Otherness of Self" by Xin Liu, published in 2002. Rating: 1/5. I don’t want to sound overly demanding, but really, unless a writer is the next Kant or Heidegger, he owes it to his readers to make his prose at least minimally engaging. With this book on too many occasions I was under the... Read More
In Search of Wealth and Power by Benjamin Schwartz, published in 1964. Rating: 4/5. In Search of Wealth and Power is a very dense but richly rewarding tome by Benjamin Schwartz, a noted China scholar. He focuses on the life of the translator Yan Fu to illustrate the culture clashes that arose when traditional Chinese... Read More
The latest US-Russia.org Experts Panel discussion was about Russia's burgeoning partnership with China. I especially recommend Mercouris' contribution which - although unfortunately titled by VoR's editorial staff)) - is otherwise quite brilliant. My own effort follows below: First of all, let me preface that I’m one of the biggest China bulls around. Its economy in... Read More
Chinese Characteristics by Arthur Henderson Smith, published in 1894. It is available free here. Rating: 5/5. In rich and evocative prose reminiscent of De Tocqueville's writings on America, Arthur H. Smith lays out what he sees as the core features of the Chinese character and his values. The tone is bold and fearless, making sweeping... Read More
Not often that you see Russia in some color other than bloody red on a world map of corruption or institutional quality. But according to the Open Budget Index (2012 results), the Russian budget is actually pretty transparent as far as these things go. Of the major countries, only the UK (88), France (83), and... Read More
By the usual standards of Guardian reporting on Russia, this one by GQ Russia editor Andrew Ryvkin is... well, about par for the course. Citing a recent PwC report that Russia will overtake Germany to become Europe's biggest economy in 2030, he asks, "Should we believe them?" Well, the PwC is just repeating predictions made... Read More
In the discussion at the previous post, in which I took exception to Ron Unz's theory of the East Asian Exception, he alerted me to so additional work on the matter he'd done as a Harvard freshman on Chinese IQ. You can read his summary of Social Darwinism and Rural China as well as Steve... Read More
He writes: China isn't anywhere near as backward as he portrays it. (1) The urban-rural ratio was essentially 50/50 according to the 2010 Census. Furthermore, rural Chinese don't really suffer from the absolute destitution common to peasants in Third World countries. They own their own land and it is almost impossible for them to lose... Read More
As human capital is so important for prosperity, it behoves us to know China's in detail to assess whether it will continue converging on developed countries. Until recently the best data we had were disparate IQ tests (on the basis of which Richard Lynn's latest estimate is an IQ of 105.8 in his 2012 book... Read More
I always thought it weird China had the smallest arsenal of the world's five NPT nuclear-weapons states. In broad strategic terms, this would make it very vulnerable to the US, especially given the latter's development of ABM technologies, which would potentially give it the choice of an annihilating first strike. In late 2009, China went... Read More
Via The Economist, I've come across some fascinating research by Orley Ashenfelter and Stepan Jurajda (Comparing Real Wage Rates, 2012) showing how real wages can be meaningfully compared across different regions by taking notes on prices and wages in McDonald's restaurants. The methodology seems solid. Big Macs are a very standardized product, hence they are... Read More
Despite the generally loathsome nature of The Economist, it does have its advantages most of which can be reduced to its Daily Charts blog which focuses on statistics as opposed to rhetoric. According to the chart above, as of 2012 ever more people, especially in the developed world, are starting to believe that the China... Read More
Sergey Zhuravlev is a Russian economist who runs a wonky but eminently readable and very useful, interesting blog and writes for Expert (author profile), which I may add is an excellent publication. You have met him previously on my blog as the inventor of a clever - if, in my opinion, flawed - argument that... Read More
It is not a secret to longtime readers of this blog that I rate India's prospects far more pessimistically than I do China's. My main reason is I do not share the delusion that democracy is a panacea and that whatever advantage in this sphere India has is more than outweighed by China's lead in... Read More
At least, surely more so than Obama, winner of 2009's Nobel Peace Prize. Let's do it by the numbers. Russia under Putin fought one war, in response to Georgian aggression against Ossetians with Russian citizenship and UN-mandated Russian peacekeepers. In contrast, Obama has participated in two wars of aggression: the Iraq War he inherited from... Read More
As repeatedly noted by Mark Adomanis, the Russian liberals and the Western media have predicted about 10 of the last zero Russian revolutions. Likewise, the "Jasmine Revolution" in China that was the subject of so much talk about a year ago has fizzled out like a wet firework. Meanwhile, the Arab world remains in the... Read More
Pomeranz, Kenneth – The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy (2001) Category: economy, history, world systems; Rating: 5*/5 Summary: Brad DeLong's review; The Bactra Review; Are Coal and Colonies Really Crucial? It's a rare book that not only vastly informs you on a particular issue, but in so doing... Read More
It's been a few weeks since my last post on learning Chinese, so here is new info for anyone interested. 1. In case you missed a late update to the original post: "Because of the simplicity of the grammar, Chinese often feels like slang to speakers used to more formalized languages; i.e. slang such as... Read More
Иn the wake of the 2009 recession, declinist rhetoric has come to dominate discussion of Russia's economic prospects. Jim O'Neill, the founder of the BRIC's concept, has his work cut out defending Russia's expulsion from the group in favor of Indonesia, Mexico, or some other random middle-sized country. Journalists in the Western media claim its... Read More
Just as with Russia, the Western media (beholden as it is to its power elite sponsors and anti-Rest ideology) peddles many tropes about China that cloud real understanding of this fascinating civilization-state. In the spirit of Sino Triumphalism, this is my attempt to set the record straight and overturn the lazy arguments used to dismiss,... Read More
Not really arguing anything in this post, just sharing some interesting stats I found about the affluent class in Russia (as compared with BRIC's and others). First, as we know Russia is (in)famous for the opulence of it oligarchy. But according to the research firm Wealth-X, despite a relatively high number of billionaires, its overall... Read More
Most projections of future trends in national power fail to appreciate the importance of three crucial factors: (1) the declining EROEI of energy resources (including, but not limited to, "peak oil"); (2) the importance of human capital to economic growth, especially in developing countries' attempts to "catch up" to the advanced world; and (3) the... Read More
As we're now approaching mid-2011, I suppose its time to give my traditional update on Russia's demography. So here's the lay-down: 1. In February, I predicted a population decline of c. 50,000 in 2010 (after a 23,000 rise in 2009). This was due to the excess deaths of the Great Russian Heatwave of 2010, and... Read More
One of the biggest questions in global history is why it was Western Europe that industrialized first, and ended up colonizing most of the rest of the world. As late as 1450, the possibility of such an outcome would have been ridiculed. By almost any metric, China was well in the lead through the medieval... Read More
Four cables from Cathay, courtesy of this excellent Cable Search tool. The first cable (Cable 1) is one of the last dispatches of Ambassador to the PRC Clark T. Randt, a long, analytical piece from January 2009. But it's also perhaps the least interesting of the four. This is because it is only a rehashing... Read More
Over at his Foreign Policy Russia blog, and (provocatively?) a few days before Russia's Unity Day, Vadim Nikitin penned the post Khodorkovsky = Kurils in which he argued for their mutual liberation from the Russian state. Whereas in their time both the conquest of the Kurils and the destruction of robber oligarch Khodorkovsky had been... Read More
Every so often there appear claims, not only in the Western press but the Russian one, that (rising but overpopulated) China is destined to fight an (ailing and creaking) Russia for possession of its resources in the Far East*. For reasons that should be obvious, this is almost completely implausible for the next few decades.... Read More
There's been lots of fanfare over China's GDP overtaking Japan's in Q2 2010 (coming hard on the heels of a big ruckus over its DF-21 "carrier killing" ballistic missile and rising tensions with the US over North Korea and the South China Sea). The big debate is now whether China will overtake the US as... Read More
How will the global South fare in our likely future of energy shortages, climate change and resource nationalism (and wars)? India has China's population mass, but lacks its industrial dynamism and human capital. Africa has Russia's energy and mineral wealth, but not the military power or social coherence to defend it. South America's prospects appear... Read More
Still no economic collapse. Still no anti-Putin bunt. Still no demographic apocalypse. As the years pass by, Russophobe canard after Russophobe trope is relegated to the dust-heap of history, only to rise back out of its grave, zombie-like, whenever Boris Nemtsov pens a brilliant indictment hysterical screed on the failures of Putinism or when the... Read More
In the wake of the economic crisis in which Russia's GDP fell by a stunning 7.9% in 2009, its status as a BRIC economy - with its connotations of promise and progress - was brought into question. After all, isn't it a dying nation with rapidly degrading infrastructure? Isn't it amazingly corrupt? Wouldn't its contempt... Read More
After two hundred years of global ascendancy, the West is in rapid relative decline to (re)emerging Asia, which is mounting a steady "Great Reconvergence". Likewise, the legitimacy of today's "neoliberal internationalist" order promoted by the West is being questioned by the more statist, neo-Westphalian visions of the leaders of the Rest, the so-called BRIC's. This... Read More
This post tries to debunk some popular, but misguided, views on demographic trends in today's Russia. These consist of the perception that Russia is in a demographic "death spiral" that dooms it to national decline (Biden, Eberstadt, NIC, CIA, Stratfor, etc). Some extreme pessimists even predict that ethnic Russians - ravaged by AIDS, infertility and... Read More
This is a list of common Russophobe myths about Russia and its people, and the successor to a March 2008 post on a similar theme. Please be sure to check the supporting notes at the bottom before dismissing this as neo-Soviet propaganda. Also partially available en français & на русском thanks to Alexandre Latsa's translation.... Read More
Chinese in Russia number in the hundreds of thousands, so the Far East is not in danger of demographic domination by the Chinese.
One of the staples of alarmist, pessimistic and/or Russophobic (not to mention Sinophobic) commentary on Russian demography* is a reworking of the yellow peril thesis. In their fevered imaginations Chinese supposedly swim across the Amur River in their millions, establish village communes in the taiga and breed prolifically so as to displace ethnic Russians and... Read More
In this essay, I analyze three major areas of concern about the current Russian economy - the debt burden, balance of payments and future fiscal sustainability. Although on paper Russia is comfortably solvent, rolling over debt has been problematic for Russia Inc. because of the shutdown of its traditional financing mechanisms, cheap American credit and... Read More
Sometimes, it is much simpler to expound upon one's views on a subject by replying to and arguing against an opposing view, rather than constructing one's own thesis. Call it intellectual laziness, a clever short-cut or whatever you not, this is what I'm going to do with the Washington Post article A Long Wait at... Read More
For all the noise being made this month about Georgia, about NATO, about Tibet, etc, possibly the most portentous is that it seems Russia hit its oil peak (strictly speaking, its second - the first happened in 1987), well in line with peakist predictions. Production increases via application of new technology, as seen in the... Read More
Anatoly Karlin
About Anatoly Karlin

I am a blogger, thinker, and businessman in the SF Bay Area. I’m originally from Russia, spent many years in Britain, and studied at U.C. Berkeley.

One of my tenets is that ideologies tend to suck. As such, I hesitate about attaching labels to myself. That said, if it’s really necessary, I suppose “liberal-conservative neoreactionary” would be close enough.

Though I consider myself part of the Orthodox Church, my philosophy and spiritual views are more influenced by digital physics, Gnosticism, and Russian cosmism than anything specifically Judeo-Christian.