Topic: Economics

well-being v 'growth with equity': what are the pros and cons?

The process of evolution takes place in three stages: random mutation, selection and replication. It’s not a bad model for how new ideas emerge within a large organization like Oxfam. Every week seems to bring a new idea swirling around in conversations and meetings (mutation). Most of those will fade away but a small percentage […]

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The Robin Hood Tax campaign is launched today – check it out

I’ve blogged a few times on the momentum building behind the introduction of a Financial Transactions Tax (see here). Today it steps up a gear with the launch of international campaign calling for a ‘Robin Hood Tax’ (much more memorable!), with the full campaign repertoire – op-eds, a letter signed by 350+ economists, a dedicated website with […]

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Are women really 70% of the world's poor? How do we know?

Doing research for advocacy (which is a large part of my job) is a balancing act. The pressure to come up with clear findings and ‘killer facts’ that speak to policy-makers can easily tip over into something much more questionable. I once challenged a colleague at another NGO on a ‘fact’ she was using on Bolivia. ‘Well, it’s […]

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Degrowth – is it useful or feasible?

Thought I’d check out what this ‘degrowth’ idea is about so went to a public meeting organized by a couple of new economics thinktanks (CEECEC and nef). It was a combination of seriously old school (standing room only; two and a half hours of speeches) and new (the bar was open throughout the event; death […]

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Can we improve aid through evolution rather than planning?

Finally got round to reading ‘Beyond Planning’ Owen Barder’s CGD paper on aid reform. Owen’s a former DFID bigwig turned Ethiopia-based consultant and blogger. Here he writes like a true economist, which can be pretty heavy going, but the paper is worth persevering with. He can also write like a human being, for example in […]

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Between microfinance and big bank lending there is…. a Missing Middle

Credit is the lifeblood of farming – you need cash to plant seeds, buy fertiliser and stay alive long long enough to reap and sell your harvest and pay off your loan. But you can’t always get it when you need it. A new Oxfam research paper identifies one of the main market failures resulting […]

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Tobin tax update: how momentum is building for a Financial Transactions Tax

The momentum behind the Financial Transactions Tax (a tiny levy of 0.005% on all financial trades would raise about $30bn a year for climate change, development and/or filling fiscal holes) continues to grow since my last post (Why has the Tobin Tax gone mainstream?). The French government, which as far back as 2003 was the […]

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Hell is Good for Growth (or maybe vice versa)

The Protestant Work Ethic is back, this time supported by econometrics….. A recent article in the Boston Globe summed up research showing that a belief in hell is good for growth, and other linkages between religion and development. Highlights: ‘A pair of Harvard researchers recently examined 40 years of data from dozens of countries, trying […]

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(lots of ) Other worlds are possible

‘We are confronted with two alternatives: to be a demagogue or to be a realist. If, based on the law of supply and demand, I say that there is a greater demand in the world for bread than for plastic surgery; and much more for the treatment of malaria than for apparel of haute couture; […]

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Seattle + 10 = Copenhagen?

I went out for a celebratory (if that’s the word) drink this week with a heroic band of Seattle Survivors. Ten years ago we were besuited NGO delegates at the notorious WTO ministerial, which collapsed in a welter of tear gas and turtles (or at least people dressed in turtle suits protesting at WTO rulings […]

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Is Growth with Equity getting old?

Growth with Equity has been one of the development industry’s overarching economic narratives for over a decade (Oxfam published ‘Economic Growth with Equity: Lessons from East Asia’ in 1998). OK, it’s better than just ‘Growth’, and where it’s been achieved, it has an unrivalled impact on poverty, but thinking has moved on in a number […]

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What can the BRICS teach us about reducing poverty?

An excellent new paper from the prolific Martin Ravallion, head of the World Bank’s research department, compares the successes in poverty reduction in three of the biggest beasts of the developing world: China, India and Brazil. Between them, these countries are home to a bit less than half the world’s poor people, but it used […]

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