AIG: The Fifth Horseman?

The recent global financial crisis has added 100 million more to the ranks of the world’s undernourished, according to the FAO.  Doubtless Paul Ehrlich is saying “I told you so.”  But it may be a little soon to dust off your copy of Malthus.  The trend remains towards the tubby.  There are as many people overweight as malnourished (around one billion) and 300 million of them classify as obese.  Many of those overweight live in the same household as an undernourished child.  Within such homes as on a global scale, the problem is one of distribution, not absolute shortages. 

Furthermore, the good Reverend Malthus’ model just doesn’t fit the facts.  No country worldwide exhibits the characteristics that Malthus suggested –stagnant output, rising populations leading to income decline and rising income fostering population growth.   Only one country in the World has seen domestic product grow more slowly than 0.5 percent a year since the 1960s.  Fertility rates are declining and health is improving almost everywhere.   And populations have expanded in counties slow and fast-growing alike.  The global spread of a range of technologies and innovations, fostered by an unprecedented rollout of education, has broken the link between land area and limits to output as much as it has improved the quality of life worldwide.

And in rich countries, a little bit of recession can actually be good for the health, as people eat better and substitute cheap entertainments like a walk in the park for expensive entertainments like drag racing.  Maybe Bernie Madoff is just a misunderstood miracle worker.

1 thought on “AIG: The Fifth Horseman?

  1. The day has started with something new! Your blog has made me think about an issue from another perspective. This is quite rare when I change my opinion about such issues but it looks that you’ve done it. Thank you!


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