This week, or so, in criticism, #724

“Hamrah’s answer was to find a literary voice so coiled, combative, and ironic that no marketing department could find its way into or out of it.” Max Nelson praises A. S. Hamrah, “the sharp-tongued, rain-lashed drifter of American movie criticism” (The Nation).

“‘Most of my peer group just isn’t thinking about homeownership anywhere,’ said Peter Hess, 31, who wrote the Popular Science article ‘These will be the best places to live in America in 2100 A.D.,’ and lives in New York City, despite knowing the risks. “I guess we will stay here and drown from coastal flooding with our friends.” Alyson Krueger profiles the forward-looking who are pre-disastering their real estate.

“The overall abundance of flying insects in German nature reserves has decreased by 75 percent over just 27 years.” A similar study in Puerto Rico’s rainforest found insect biomass has decreased sixtyfold over 40 years. Is it because of climate change? Pesticides? No one is sure, according to Brooke Jarvis. But given that the Creator was once hailed by biologists for his inordinate fondness for beetles, it seems ominous that he is now willing to do without them (New York Times Magazine).

“The crisis, [Crashed author Adam] Tooze writes, ‘was a devastating blow to the complacent belief in the great moderation, a shocking overturning of the prevailing laissez-faire ideology.’ And yet the ideology prevailed.” Robert Kuttner argues that Tooze’s Crashed will long be “the authoritative account” of the international financial crisis of 2008 and its compromised resolution (NYRB, subscription required).

“In an illuminating analogy [Moneyland author Oliver] Bullough likens the Bretton Woods system [which managed international currency exchanges and capital flows for the three decades following World War II] to

an oil tanker, a ship full of oil. If a tanker has just one huge tank, then the oil that fills it can slosh backwards and forwards in ever greater waves, until it destabilises the vessel, which overturns and sinks. That was the system after the First World War, when waves of speculative money capsized democracy. At Bretton Woods, the delegates designed a new kind of ship, where the oil was divided up between many smaller tanks, one for each country. The ship held the same volume of oil, but in a different way. The liquid could slosh back and forth within its little compartments, but would not be able to achieve enough momentum to damage the integrity of the entire vessel.

No sooner had the Bretton Woods conference in Hampshire, USA ended in 1944 than bankers applied their wits to a new challenge: how to break down the inner walls of the stable Bretton Woods ‘tanker’ that constituted the new international financial architecture.” Ann Pettifor explains in a review of four new books how financiers, in search of profits, figured out how to puncture the safeguards, known as capital controls, that had been devised at Bretton Woods to keep international banking from collapse (TLS).