This is an archived version of the PW Sources newsletter from Saturday, March 11. Sign up to receive PW Sources directly to your inbox here.


Last month, in order to enforce stronger content moderation and transparency rules, the European Union’s 2022 Digital Services Act began requiring major social media platforms in Europe to self-report their user size. Days later, the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Section 230, which protects platforms from being liable for content recommended by algorithms. 

In a 2023 paper, PHILLIP VERVEER compares American and European attempts to regulate social media, arguing that the latter have seen more success. 

From the article:

“The European Union and the United States were in roughly similar positions with respect to open mic platform services at the turn of the 21st century. Section 230 protected platforms from most liability in the United States and the Electronic Commerce Directive of 2000 protected platforms from most liability in the European Union. More than two decades later, with the accumulation of experience about the consequences of relieving platform operators from exposure to tort and other claims, things are different. The European Union has legislated significant changes in its approach and the United States has not. The divergence reflects differences in legal and government culture. The European approach utilizes increased state direction while the United States’ approach relies more on individual initiative to suppress negative externalities. One dramatic manifestation of the differences is that Section 230 occupies approximately two pages in the U.S. Code and the Digital Services Act occupies 100 pages in the European Union’s Official Journal.”

+  “We have seen how the EU manages to closely intertwine concerns for human rights, economic growth and Single Market integration.” Troels Krarup and Maja Horst on the EU’s artificial intelligence policy. Link

+  “What if a firm had to demonstrate that its AI met clear requirements for security, non-discrimination, accuracy, appropriateness, and correctability, before it was deployed?” A 2022 paper by Gianclaudio Malgieri and Frank A. Pasquale. Link

+  A report from the Corporate Europe Observatory on the tech industry’s growing lobbying power in the EU. Link.


Strategic minerals

ROBERT KONKEL is a postdoctoral fellow at the Jackson School of Global Affairs at Yale University. In a recent paper, he explores the global scramble for strategic minerals in the decades leading up to World War II.

From the abstract

“Building Blocs charts a global history of the last great crisis of globalization—the transwar decades from the 1880s through the 1940s—centering strategic minerals needed to make steel. Little-studied, but critically important, alloying minerals like tungsten and manganese were only needed in small amounts, but they were essential to the very foundations of national prosperity and security—steel and military production. Herein lay a fundamental problem: none of the industrial powers possessed adequate domestic deposits of these minerals, which were concentrated in remote locations—like central India, the Caucasus, southern China, Brazilian jungles, the Australian outback, and southern Africa. In a world in which steel was power, I show how resource anxieties motivated interwar quests for autarky and autonomy in the form of self-contained blocs. The scramble for strategic minerals escalated tensions and put rivals on the road to war, while reshaping the forms and structures of geopolitical entities and international institutions throughout the transwar period.”

+ + +

+  “The conclusion seems inescapable that a tight monetary policy cannot stop administrative inflation without creating excessive unemployment, and may not be able to do so even then.” New in PW’s ongoing series on the price level, excerpts from economist Gardiner Means’s congressional hearings and public lectures from 1957-61 on inflation and monetary policy, with an introduction by Andrew Elrod. Link

+  “The energy transition from an economic system run on fossil-fuels into a new metals-based one will reshuffle winners and losers, and blow up both domestic and international political orders.” New on the Polycrisis, Tim Sahay and Kate Mackenzie sketch out three decarbonization plots. Link

+  “Never in the past seven decades has India witnessed such an economic reversal.” R. Nagaraj on India’s deindustrialization. Link

+  “Transitioning to a net-zero energy system by 2050 is likely to be economically beneficial.” A new paper by Rupert Way, Matthew C. Ives, Penny Mealy, and J. Doyne Farmer. Link

+  “The long history of China’s engagement with state capitalism as a concept and program dating back to the late Qing reformers has been overlooked for the most part.” A new paper by Isabella Weber. Link

+  Stefania Albanesi, Claudia Olivetti, and Barbara Petrongolo review how family policies have have affected women’s careers over the past half century. Link

+  “The sustained profitability of Iranian companies under sanctions represents an extraordinary and ongoing transfer of economic welfare from households to firms.” By Esfandyar Batmanghelidj. Link. And see Batmanghelidj’s PW essay on “the backfire” of US sanctions. Link

+  “This shock was the 1876 conversion of hereditary samurai stipends (aka, chitsuroku) into government bonds (aka, kinroku) worth 173.9 million yen, motivated by the drain on public finances from samurai payments. There were some immediate consequences. First, interest payments by the government fell from 34.6 million yen before the 1868 Meiji restoration to 12.8 million yen after the 1876 stipend conversion. Second, the banking system expanded rapidly since chartered national banks were allowed to accept these commutation bonds as investment capital. These banks increased from 6 in 1876 to 153 over the next three years, with samurai contributing three times more capital in these banks compared to all other classes combined. Their dominant position in bank ownership remained in place through the 1880s, which coincided with the start of modern economic growth and Japan’s subsequent transition to an industrialized economy.” By Sergi Basco and John P. Tang. Link

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