Thursday, 16 August 2018

The World Trade Historical Database

a column by Giovanni Federico and Antonio Tena-Junguito for VOX: CEPR’s Policy Portal

Global trade data for periods prior to WWII are notoriously incomplete and unreliable.

This column describes a new dataset of historical world trade that addresses many of these flaws. The World Trade Historical Database comprises imports and exports for polities beginning in 1800, and also includes international prices for 190 products, freight rates, and exchange rates, where available.

Though focused on aggregate trade, the data include information on the composition of trade from numerous sources.

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5 Ways Childhood Neglect and Trauma Skews Our Self-Esteem

a post by Darius Cikanavicius (Psychology of Self) for the World of Psychology blog

Self-esteem is one of the core concepts in regard to our self-perception, self-worth, and self-understanding. Self-esteem is something that people refer to all the time, be it a mental health professional, a regular person, and everyone in between.

What Is Self-Esteem?

The word esteem comes from a Latin word aestimare, which means to estimate, to value, to evaluate, to judge. Self means that it’s about me, and I’m the one who’s estimating myself.

We estimate ourselves in terms of our worth, actions, skills, abilities, emotions, motives, and various other things. We do it consciously or unconsciously. Our estimation of ourselves can be correct, incorrect, or partially correct.

How Self-Esteem Develops

We are not born already being able to accurately assess the world and ourselves. Self-reflection is something a child starts developing as they become self-aware and develop a stronger sense of self.

In order for a child to develop a healthy and accurate self-esteem, they need mirroring, attunement, and validation from the caregiver. If the child doesn‘t get enough of it, their ability to self-assess is stunted or even damaged.

A big factor in the development of our self-esteem is the fact that as children we are dependent on our caregivers. By the nature of it, our early self-perception is mostly shaped by how we are seen by our primary caregivers and other authority figures. We internalize other people‘s perception of us and eventually it becomes our self-image.

All of this means that if our early environment provides a skewed perception of us, we develop a skewed self-esteem. This impacts our lives as the issues that stem from it follow us into our adulthoods and sometimes last a lifetime.

These issues manifest themselves on many levels: intellectual (false beliefs, magical thinking, unrealistic standards), emotional (depression, chronic shame and guilt), or behavioral (addiction, self-loathing or destructive behavior).

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Car dependence and housing affordability: An emerging social deprivation issue in London?

an article by Mengqiu Cao and Robin Hickman (University College London, UK) published in Urban Studies Volume 55 Issue 10 (August 2018)


This paper investigates the combined problem of high car dependence and housing affordability, in view of likely continued volatility in oil prices (and hence higher petrol and diesel prices), and rising house prices.

Household budgets are likely to be stretched where there are high levels of car dependency and housing unaffordability – with little flexibility for rising costs in either or both of these. A composite car dependence and housing affordability (CDHA) index is developed, using indices of oil vulnerability related to car travel and housing affordability.

Greater London is used as the case study, with 2001 and 2011 data analysed at the level of Lower Super Output Areas, and presented using Geographic Information System and R statistical software.

The findings reveal that there are high levels of composite car dependence and housing price vulnerability in many suburban areas across Greater London, adding to the previous areas of social deprivation found mainly in East London. The composite CDHA index illustrates where the most vulnerable areas are spatially.

Many neighbourhoods may become less attractive for those on median or even relatively high incomes. The areas most affected may become much more expensive to live in, potentially leading to much greater pressure on travel and housing costs as people could be forced to live further from the centre of London, including beyond the Greater London boundary, which has further implications for travel.

Failing to consider these emerging affordability issues represents an oversight in terms of transport planning in London.

In Search of the Sacred: Escaping Facebook’s Sticky Web

a post by Amy Funk for the Tiny Buddha blog

“You leave the present moment every time you check your phone.” ~Deirdre Jayko

Facebook was driving me to distraction! One late-winter evening, I prepped for a mood-saving hike in the snow. Magic happened on the trails in the moonlight. I decided to check Facebook for a friend’s answer to a message.

Who knows what caught my attention, but I ended up skipping from post to post. Once I emerged from my Facebook haze, I realized it was too late to walk safely. What had I accomplished in place of my hike? What did I even read about?

As I put away my warm clothes and went to bed, I promised myself I was going to change my Facebook usage. It was eating away at my life. I was driving myself to distraction.

Social media usage bothers people for a variety of reasons. Drilling down on those reasons reveals a larger theme of loss of control. In spite of ourselves, we spend way too much time scrolling through mindless content. Seemingly against our best intentions (sometimes, against our will), we waste countless hours on the site.

My frustration level only escalated once I made the decision to torch my Facebook profile. Getting off the site seemed impossibly complex! What about people I only had contact with through Facebook? What about seeing photos of relatives and friends? What about the writings and photos I loved to share? Each time I planned on hitting “delete,” I would give up and decide it was too complicated.

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Wednesday, 15 August 2018

How EU banks modelled their stress away in the 2016 EBA stress tests

a column by Friederike Niepmann and Viktors Stebunovs for VOX: CEPR’s Policy Portal

In the European Banking Authority’s EU-wide stress tests, banks project capital ratios under a hypothetical adverse scenario employing their own models, which are constrained by a common methodology set by the Authority.

This column argues that letting banks produce their own projections means they are prone to manipulation. It finds evidence that banks’ internal models are modified to lessen losses given the applicable scenarios and exposures. Without this manipulation, projected aggregate credit losses would have been up to 28% higher in the 2016 stress tests.

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Healing from Addiction: Finding the Road to Recovery

a post by Julie K. Jones for the World of Psychology blog

Addiction — and recovery — can look differently from individual to individual. As surely as we can be addicted to alcohol, substances, or medications, we can just as easily be addicted to love, work, sex, dieting, exercise, skin picking, and food. Addiction can refer to any compulsive and unhealthy attachment or behavior that one uses as a way of artificially enhancing, numbing, or avoiding feelings. Addictions have negative consequences and are difficult to just “stop” doing.

There are certainly different levels of medical and psychological risks associated with different kinds of addiction, and recovery. Individuals who are at high risk for dangerous or destructive consequences from addictive behaviors should seek professional direction, support, and monitoring from healthcare professionals, including doctors and addiction therapists, and emergency medical attention if needed.

Assuming medical and psychological stability have been achieved, the road to recovery and associated healing work has many aspects. And it truly is a road: recovery is a lifelong journey that will inevitably have peaks and valleys, joys and sorrows, highs and lows.

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How craft is good for our health

a post by Susan Luckman for the Big Think blog

Article Image
Image credit: rawpixel via unsplash

At a time when many of us feel overwhelmed by the 24/7 demands of the digital world, craft practices, alongside other activities such as colouring books for grown-ups and the up-surge of interest in cooking from scratch and productive home gardens, are being looked to as something of an antidote to the stresses and pressures of modern living.

Crafts such as knitting, crochet, weaving, ceramics, needlework and woodwork focus on repetitive actions and a skill level that can always be improved upon. According to the famous psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi this allows us to enter a “flow” state, a perfect immersive state of balance between skill and challenge.

With what is increasingly referred to today as “mindfulness” being a much-desired quality for many people, it’s not surprising crafts are being sought out for their mental and even physical benefits.

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The author mentions that most people tend to think of crafting as something done by women.
Unfortunately for those of you who come to meetups I organise I am a woman. The crafts I bring with me are, therefore, of a more gentle nature so no woodworking, bicycle repair or anything like that.
And nothing messy like painting or gluing because we meet in a public place.