This Week’s Stock Market Drop was Machine-Made. The Freakout That Followed Was Man-Made.

“Dow plunges 391 points as fear grips markets.” A headline from two days ago? Try two years ago. Jan. 15, 2016, to be precise. The last time stocks exhibited the sharp sell-off — followed by an equally sharp run-up — that characterized the past few days. Monday, the Dow Jones industrial average was down about 1,600 points, the largest intraday point-drop ever,

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In the Context of No Context

Twenty-five years ago, China made a choice. Rather than embrace the demands for greater political openness emanating from the students and protesters camped in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, the leadership of the Communist Party decided to crush the protests with lethal force on June 4, 1989, leading to hundreds and perhaps thousands of deaths.

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Jim Kim: Obama’s Bold Pick to Lead the World Bank

Yesterday, President Obama announced his nomination for the next president of the World Bank, and the choice came as a surprise to almost everyone. Unlike recent heads of the bank—from Paul Wolfowitz, whose tenure was cut short by a minor scandal, to Robert Zoellick, who is now retiring, to the rather august James Wolfensohn—Dr. Jim Yong Kim is neither a power player in Washington nor a well-known political figure globally. Nor is he a banker of repute. He is instead a major figure in international aid circles, a founder of the health-care organization Partners in Health, a former leader of the World Health Organization’s initiatives to combat HIV/AIDS, and most recently, the president of Dartmouth University.

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The Unknowable Lightness of Being

Each month, the Federal Reserve releases its latest minutes of its last meeting along with its projections of economic activity (www.federalreserve.gov). The minutes just released indicate that its prior forecasts have been tweaked a bit, with update projections for unemployment over the next two years, GDP growth, and inflation. As new data become available, the hundreds of economists at the Fed revise and recalculate numbers, which means that any forecast rarely lasts more than a few months.

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