Is the Anti-Politics machine still a good critique of the aid business?

Duncan Green - January 11, 2017

Just been re-reading a great 6 page summary of James Ferguson’s 1994 classic critique of the aid industry, The Anti-Politics Machine. Read this and ask yourself, apart from the grating use of the term ‘Third World’, how much has changed? ‘Any question of the form ‘what is to be done?’ demands first of all an answer to the question, ‘By whom?’ The ‘development’ discourse, and …

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What is Fiscal Justice? A rationale and some great examples

Duncan Green - January 10, 2017

What is ‘Fiscal Justice’? It’s one of those campaign buzzwords that appears every so often, and Oxfam is going big on it (you’ll hear plenty about it at the impending Davos meeting, provided the media cover anything other than Donald Trump’s inauguration that week). If you want to get a sense of what it means on the ground, check out Oxfam’s ‘Fiscal Justice Global Track …

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Links I Liked

Duncan Green - January 9, 2017

The World Economic Forum tweeted a rather silly list of ’14 things successful people do before breakfast’. Paul Kirby reckoned ‘The secret of success must be to have breakfast in the evening’. As for trying this at home, when I try and ‘spend quality time with my family’/’connect with my spouse’ before breakfast, they turn pretty nasty……. Lots of great commentaries on the zeitgeist – …

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Book Review: Social Physics : How Social Networks can make us Smarter

Duncan Green - January 6, 2017

My Christmas reading included a book called Social Physics – yep, a party animal (my others were Lord of the Flies and Knausgard Vol 3, both wonderful). Here’s the review: Airport bookstores are bewildering places – shelf after shelf of management gurus offering distilled lessons on leadership, change and everything else. How to distinguish snake oil from substance? My Christmas reading, based on a recommendation …

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How bad is my filter bubble problem? Please help me find out

Duncan Green - January 5, 2017

In an idle moment over the Christmas break, I decided to run a twitter poll to assess the extent of my filter bubble. For any of you who’ve been on a different planet for the last few months, that’s the social media phenomenon whereby you like/follow/read only those sources that broadly agree with you, creating an echo chamber that can lead to you mistakenly thinking …

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Links I Liked

Duncan Green - January 4, 2017

A few links from either side of the Christmas break, to provide some initial distractions in 2017 How much does $10m in large banknotes weigh? Carrying bags of cash is (luckily) easier on the back in Davos than Caracas (h/t The Economist) Great (long read) interview with inequality guru Branko Milanovic The focus on better communicating certain ‘truths’ is misplaced: academics must improve their emotional literacy …

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How many readers? Where from? What were their favourite posts? Stats for 2016 on FP2P

Duncan Green - January 3, 2017

Hi everyone, Happy New Year and all that. Thought I’d kick off with the usual feedback post on last year’s blog stats: The blog passed a couple of milestones last year – since it started in 2008, it’s clocked up 2000 posts, 1.4 million words, and 10,000 comments (big thanks to everyone who takes the time to add theirs). Only a matter of time before …

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RIP Tony Atkinson: Here he is on our personal responsibility for reducing inequality

Duncan Green - January 2, 2017

Tony Atkinson, one of the world’s great thought leaders on poverty and inequality, died on New Year’s Day. Combining intellectual rigour and a profound commitment to social justice, his life’s work epitomised the economics profession at its best. Here he is in the final chapter of his 2015 book ‘Inequality: What can be done?’ ‘I do not accept that rising inequality is inevitable: it is …

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Is this time really different? Will Automation kill off development?

Duncan Green - December 21, 2016

Is this time really different? That’s the argument whenever people want to ignore the lessons of history (eg arguing that this particular financial bubble/commodity boom will never burst) and such claims usually merit a bucketload of scepticism. On the other hand (climate change, nuclear war) sometimes things really are different from everything that has gone before. Which brings us to technology. Lots of musings are …

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‘Odd but Interesting’: Clare Short reviews How Change Happens

Duncan Green - December 20, 2016

Clare Short was DFID’s first minister (1997-2003) and a force of nature (for example she was one of the originators of what became the Millennium Development Goals). Great when she agreed with you, pretty brutal when she didn’t. Which in the case of NGOs, was quite a lot of the time – she had the traditional Labour Left dislike of middle class, self-appointed, self-righteous dogoodery …

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