February 2010

Why 'Human Capital' is an abomination

admin - February 26, 2010

I’ve always felt uneasy with using the term ‘human capital’ as a synonym for ‘people’. In this month’s issue of the consistently excellent Prospect magazine, philosopher Edward Skidelsky beautifully nails the arguments: ‘Economists, said John Maynard Keynes, should think of themselves as humble specialists, on a par with dentists. But his advice has gone unheeded. Over the past 50 years, economics and its jargon have …

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Lifting the Resource Curse (or how to make finding oil a blessing)

admin - February 25, 2010

‘Lifting the Resource Curse’, a new Oxfam paper, revisits the difficult question of how to ensure natural resources are a blessing, and not a curse, for poor countries. Countries like Angola, where oil revenues (which represent 80 per cent of national income) are estimated at $10bn per year, yet 70 per cent of the population live on less than $2 per day. By one estimate, …

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The gender impact of the global meltdown: 7 new papers and a video

admin - February 24, 2010

One of the aspects which is almost invariably missing from substantive discussions on the global economic crisis (and which quite often, doesn’t even get lip service) is the gender dimension. Women and men experience crises in different ways, and are unequally affected by government responses. Often, pre-existing inequalities, which include under-representation of women at all levels of economic decision-making and their over-representation in informal, vulnerable, …

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Deadlines; zapping mosquitoes; Rodrik is blogging again; Paul Collier is blaming the NGOs; why isn't Britain more like Norway?, and pregnant breakdancers: links I liked

admin - February 23, 2010

The end of this week (26 February) is the deadline both for commenting on our new draft paper on the impact and response to the global economic crisis, and to take the ultra-quick online survey to help sharpen up the contents of this blog. After that, I promise not to request participation of any kind for at least a month. Back to some nice links. …

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More IMF revisionism, this time on capital controls

admin - February 22, 2010

Another day, another IMF U turn, this time in a ‘Staff Position Note’ on capital controls by Ostry, Ghosh, Habermeier, Chamon, Qureshi, and Reinhardt (they seem to prefer writing by committee at the Fund – personally, I’m with Sartre: ‘hell is other people’). This comes hard on the heels of its recent rethink on inflation, part of a laudable institutional journey of reflection, prompted by …

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A big rethink at the IMF, with subtitles for non-economists

admin - February 19, 2010

The IMF is doing some very interesting (and praiseworthy) rethinking in response to the global crisis, if a new paper co-authored by its chief economist Olivier Blanchard is anything to go by. It’s written by and for economists, so it’s not exactly bedtime reading (unless you’re an insomniac), but here’s the highlights, and my attempts at translation. Overview: ‘The great moderation lulled macroeconomists and policymakers …

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Natural Resources and Development Strategy after the crisis: useful (but flawed) new World Bank paper

admin - February 18, 2010

The World Bank’s influential PREM (Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Network) team has a new series of topical notes, pulling together its research on breaking issues (they’ve obviously been reading the literature on using research for influence – rehashing existing research at the right moment for policy makers is one of the most effective forms of influencing). It’s called ‘Economic Premise’ (geddit?). Very welcome idea, …

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Is the spread of supermarkets in poor countries good news or bad?

admin - February 17, 2010

Supermarkets are not just a northern phenomenon, but are spreading fast across the developing world. Some of them arrive from outside, like the giant Tescos outside my hotel on a recent visit to Korea; others are homegrown. Either way, they are having a big impact on the lives and prospects of farmers, large and small. Thomas Reardon at Michigan State University is the guru on …

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Mobiles; Avatar-for-good; Goldman Sachs v Robin Hood; rickshaws (+judges) v cars and conflict/security: links I liked

admin - February 16, 2010

Mark Weston captures the rush of Sierra Leone’s mobile phone boom An inspired bit of entrepreneurial campaigning. The Dongria Kondh tribe from eastern India publicly appeal to film director James Cameron to help them stop controversial mining company Vedanta from opening a bauxite mine on their sacred land, comparing their plight to that of the fictional Na’vi tribe in Cameron’s blockbuster Avatar  Goldman Sachs, rigging …

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If you want this blog to get better, I need 5 minutes of your time

admin - February 15, 2010

This blog has now been running for 18 months and it’s time to obey that NGO golden rule – ‘if it moves, evaluate it’ (and if it keeps moving, restructure it…). So, could you please take 5-10 minutes (honest – it’s really quick) to fill out this on-line survey? Why? Because the feedback will help me improve the quality and relevance of the content and …

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