Archive for October 26th, 2017

Here’s what Sweden’s banknotes looked like 100 years ago

October 26, 2017

Nice post full of pictures of old Swedish banknotes. Those were times when banks could design their own notes along with that of Riskbank:

The ten-kronor note hasn’t existed in Sweden for more than 20 years, but at one point there were dozens of different designs for the note, with the country’s different banks each designing their own.

Sweden’s Royal Coin Cabinet museum has shared images of late 19th-century ten-kronor notes as part of an initiative to raise awareness of its collection.

At the time, there were 31 private banks across the country, each of which had the power to issue its own banknotes, so in 1901, for example, there were 28 examples of the ten-kronor note. Banks would display images of all the valid notes, as seen in the picture above, so staff could carry out their jobs and spot forgeries.

“This was a special period in Sweden’s economic history, where we had a standard currency but different banknotes,” Åsa Hallemar from the museum told The Local.

“You can see that the motifs on the banknotes were there to promote the regions, for example people and buildings which were important to the city in some way.”


Nudging for safe driving/ improving road safety….

October 26, 2017

Nice post by UK’s Nudge unit team: Simon Ruda, Monica Wills Silva and Handan Wieshmann.

They point how a simple nudge (an award winning one as well) led to safer driving:

Key to improving road safety is understanding what causes serious and fatal collisions. In work with East Sussex County Council, using cutting edge data science techniques to analyse more than a decade’s worth of data, we found that 10 per cent of all collisions, and 7 per cent of those that result in a death or serious injury, are caused by people who have at least one speeding conviction.

Despite the death toll, and despite previous brushes with the criminal justice system, it seems people continue to drive dangerously; disregarding road safety rules and failing to comply with speed limits. In the West Midlands area alone, there were more than 60,000 traffic offences in 2015.

As well as posing a risk to life, these offences create costs for criminal justice agencies, especially when drivers have to be prosecuted for non-payment of fines.

In 2015, we partnered with West Midlands Police to tackle the problem of dangerous driving.

We focused on adapting an existing point of contact with speeding drivers – the Notice of Intended Prosecution received after being caught speeding. We identified two areas for improvement:

  • making it easier for drivers to comply with the sanction: simplifying the communication in the letter
  • convincing drivers of the legitimacy of speeding limits so they are less likely to reoffend: explaining why speed limits exist and the dangerous consequences of breaking them

Following a clustered randomised control trial over 19 weeks, with a cohort of 15,346 drivers, we found that the intervention reduced reoffending by 20 per cent within six months of an individual’s offence in the West Midlands alone.

These results are in addition to the increased payment rate and speed previously reported, which reduced eligibility for prosecution by 41.3 per cent. Using police and Home Office data, we estimated the intervention will save the criminal justice system £1.5 million per year in the West Midlands alone – as well as reducing the numbers hurt or killed on our roads.

This trial, which won first place at Nudge Awards’ Nudge for Good category this summer, demonstrates the impact of small, low cost, changes to existing process and communications. It is a classic nudge, applied to a hard to shift behaviour. We think this approach – making the rationale behind laws more salient – is a useful tool for law enforcement, which we hope to test in other domains.

Back in 1896, witnesses to Bridget Driscoll’s death said that Arthur Edsel, the driver of the vehicle that killed her, was travelling at a reckless pace. And in present day East Sussex, our findings were very similar: that a driver being careless, reckless or in a hurry was the most common recorded factor of collisions resulting in deaths or serious injuries. A century has passed and some things have changed little.

Fortunately, now, we have new tools and techniques at our disposal to make our roads safer for the next century.

Always interesting to read about such stuff…

He died as he lived: David Hume, philosopher and infidel

October 26, 2017

Prof. Dennis Rasmussen (political science at Tufts University) has a nice piece:

As the Scottish philosopher David Hume lay on his deathbed in the summer of 1776, his passing became a highly anticipated event. Few people in 18th-century Britain were as forthright in their lack of religious faith as Hume was, and his skepticism had earned him a lifetime of abuse and reproach from the pious, including a concerted effort to excommunicate him from the Church of Scotland. Now everyone wanted to know how the notorious infidel would face his end. Would he show remorse or perhaps even recant his skepticism? Would he die in a state of distress, having none of the usual consolations afforded by belief in an afterlife? In the event, Hume died as he had lived, with remarkable good humour and without religion.

In particular, how Adam Smith’s essay celebrating Hume’s life brought the former so much reproach:


President of India’s interesting speech on 60th anniversary of Karnataka’s Vidhan Souda…

October 26, 2017

In this environment of chaotic and acerbic political mudslinging across political parties, this speech is a welcome change (HT: qfint).

The President of India speaks on the occassion of the controversial 60th anniversary of Karnataka’s Vidhan Souda (seat of legislative assembly of the State). He talks about the 4 Ds that make the 5th D – Democracy (hope all political party members read it):

It is not just the 60th birthday of this building that we are marking. This is also the diamond jubilee of the debates and discussions in the two Houses, of legislations that have been passed and policies that have been shaped for the betterment of the lives of the people of Karnataka.

We are aware of the three D’s of the legislature, that it is a place to debate, dissent and finally decide. And if we add the fourth D, decency, only then does the fifth D, namely democracy, become a reality.The legislature is an embodiment of the will, aspirations and hopes of the people of Karnataka, irrespective of political belief, caste and religion, gender or language. It needs the collective wisdom of both Houses of the Legislature to fulfil the dreams of our people.

This spirit of debate and discussion, of inquiry and of service, is not limited to simply the Vidhan Soudha or to political life. It has existed in the soil of this great state. Karnataka has been known through history for spiritualism as much as science, for its farmers as much as its technologists. Its contribution to the intellectual and cultural – and ultimately democratic – heritage of our country has been enormous.

This is a land with ancient Jain and Buddhist traditions. Adi Shankaracharya founded the math in Sringeri in this very state. Gulbarga is a centre of Sufi culture. The reformist Lingayat movement under spiritual leaders such as Basavacharya was also located in Karnataka. In their own way, each of these currents has contributed to nation building.

Karnataka is a land of formidable soldiers. Krishnadeva Raya was the greatest ruler of the Vijayanagara Empire, and remains an inspiration for all Indians. Kempe Gowda was the founder of Bengaluru. Rani Chennamma of Kittur and Rani Abbakka led among the earliest battles against colonial powers.

Tipu Sultan died a heroic death fighting the British. He was also a pioneer in the development and use of Mysore rockets in warfare. This technology was later adopted by the Europeans. More recently, two of our finest army chiefs – Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa and General K.S. Thimayya – were sons of Karnataka.

This is also the seat of education, technology and science. The engineer-statesman M. Visvesvaraya was a builder of modern Karnataka and of modern India. He was responsible for major irrigation projects that continue to help farmers to this day. The Indian Institution of Science and the Indian Space Research Organisation are among so many of our crown jewel institutions that are based in Bengaluru. The dynamism of its entrepreneurs has made Bengaluru India’s IT capital. It is known the world over as the Silicon City.

As expected, people have only looked at his comments on Tipu Sultan whose role has been under a lot of scrutiny in recent times.

He goes on to explain who is a nation builder:

The opening of this building in 1956 coincided with the reorganisation of states and the creation of the boundaries of Karnataka state. In a sense, both these momentous happenings represented the sovereign will, the cultural and linguistic pride and the identity of the Kannadiga people. As such the people of this state are always the focal point of all our endeavours – and of all that is undertaken in this legislative building.

Having said that, Karnataka’s dreams are not for Karnataka alone; they are dreams for all of India. Karnataka is an engine of the Indian economy. It is a mini-India that draws – without losing its cultural and linguistic distinctiveness – youth from all over the country. They come here for knowledge and for jobs, and they give their labour and intellect. Everybody gains.

There was a time when Hampi, here in Karnataka, was one of the richest and greatest cities in the world. Today, as our country strives to regain its importance in the global economy and international system, once again we look to Karnataka to provide India with the enlightenment, the technology and unity of purpose to take us forward. And as representatives of the people of Karnataka, the members of the two Houses here have a special responsibility.

Legislators are both public servants as well as nation builders.

Indeed, anybody who performs his or her duties with honesty and dedication is a nation builder. Those who maintain this building are also nation builders. Those who provide it security are nation builders too. It is by the efforts of ordinary citizens, who diligently carry out everyday tasks, that nations are built. As you sit and work in this Vidhan Soudha, I am confident you will never forget this and will continue to draw inspiration from it.

Let us then make this diamond jubilee not just the celebration of a proud past – but a commitment to an even greater future. A great future for Karnataka and a great future for India!

There is a lot of talk on who is patriotic and who is not. President of India just sums it for us…

Lessons from History of bank recapitalisation bonds issued in 1993-94…

October 26, 2017

Talk about political ironies really. One one hand the current government continues to hold previous government for all India ills and on the other keeps picking policy solutions from the same government.

On this Tuesday, Government announced a public sector bank bailout sorry recapitalisation plan worth Rs 2.11 lakh crore. The plan will have two components:

Out of the total commitment, Rs1.35 trillion will come from the sale of so-called recapitalisation bonds. The remaining Rs76,000 crore will be through budgetary allocation and fundraising from the markets.

The bank recapitalisation package marks a sharp increase over the current budgetary allocation. Under the Indradhanush plan, the government has allocated Rs20,000 crore towards bank recapitalisation over the current and next fiscal years.

Interestingly, the same plan was approved by the Indian government in 1993. The then Finance Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in Budget speech of 1993-94 said:


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