Weekly Economic Round-Up: Better Living for the Poor, More Exports for the West, and More

David Leonhardt points out that the world's poorest are enjoying dramatically improving standards of living:

In a new book called "Getting Better," Charles Kenny - a British development economist based in Washington - argues that the answer is absolutely not. Life in much of Africa and in most of the impoverished world has improved at an unprecedented clip in recent decades, even if economic growth hasn't.

"The biggest success of development," he writes, "has not been making people richer but, rather, has been making the things that really matter - things like health and education - cheaper and more widely available."

NYU professor William Easterly argues that the Eastward movement of economic activity is a good thing for the West:

the richer are our trading partners, other things equal, the more demand for our products, the more and better jobs created thereby, the more gains from trade, the more innovation as the extent of the world market grows, and the more we can benefit from the additional human capital and innovation happening in the East.

Amar Bhidé, a professor at the Tufts University's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, has a new book out chronicling how the use of algorithms and pricing models in finance has "replaced the judgments of thousands of individual bankers and investors, to disastrous effect."

For you econ wonks out there - the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity are now available for free. Yes, free!

Finally, (h/t Ben Smith) a Rolling Stone article on how two early 20-somethings in Miami became global arms dealers is a gripping read.