Topic: Economics

What makes Vietnam's informal economy tick?

Inside Vietnam’s informal economy – heroic struggles! Spent Wednesday talking to a range of people in the ‘informal economy’ of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon). I was accompanying our excellent Vietnam team, who together with Action Aid Vietnam, are running a 5-year ‘poverty monitoring programme’ in 9 rural and 3 urban sites, including this […]

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The IMF debates the crisis and industrial policy

The Hanoi Hilton, IMF, Robert Wade and jet lag. One strange day. [any feedback on these wonku summaries, introduced in response to the reader survey?] My week in Vietnam kicks off with a weird jet-lagged day at the Hanoi Hilton c/o the IMF and the Vietnam State Bank, who organized a conference on ‘Post Crisis […]

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Some big development brains ask 'what's next?'

The Institute for Development Studies is a Good Thing. Located on the brutal 60s campus of the University of Sussex near Brighton, its gurus like Robert Chambers and Hans Singer have educated and inspired generations of Masters and PhD students, who then scattered to every corner of the aid industry and beyond (diplomats, politicians etc). […]

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Ending the Doomsday Cycle of global finance

‘Each time the system runs into problems, the Federal Reserve quickly lowers interest rates to revive it. These crises appear to be getting worse and worse.’ So begins a sobering analysis by Peter Boone and Simon Johnson in the CentrePiece, the journal of the LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance. The argument is contained in the […]

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The Robin Hood Tax takes off: update, arguments and counterarguments

The Robin Hood Tax campaign has certainly struck a nerve. On the one hand, huge public support (within three weeks of the launch, 300,000 views of the Bill Nighy youtube, 120,000 fans on Facebook, 30,000 signed up on email) and serious political interest (UK parliamentary launch with 80 MPs, lobby meetings with all the major parties). […]

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Why 'Human Capital' is an abomination

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. […]

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

‘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 […]

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

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 […]

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More IMF revisionism, this time on capital controls

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, […]

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

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 […]

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

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 […]

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

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. […]

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