Topic: Economics

Has the IMF really changed? Academic arm-wrestling from Washington…..

A new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington DC tries to work out whether the IMF has really changed its thinking in response to the global economic crisis and the general perception that countercyclical responses (rather than belt-tightening austerity) are the right way to go in a recession. After a […]

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Ha-Joon Chang uncovers what's worked in the history of agricultural policy

I vividly remember the impact of Ha-Joon Chang’s 2002 book ‘Kicking Away the Ladder’. At the time I was an NGO lobbyist on the WTO’s Doha round of trade talks, and Ha-Joon’s book showed how when they were still poor, today’s rich countries had systematically used the industrial policies and other forms of state management […]

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Why has the Tobin Tax gone mainstream?

So the Tobin Tax finally went large at the G20 finance ministers’ meeting last weekend. Gordon Brown supported a financial transactions tax to repay some of the costs of the bailout and provide extra cash for development and climate change action, and a predictable backlash promptly consumed the finance pages. I won’t rehearse the press coverage […]

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Migration and Development: lead author of this year's Human Development Report responds to my review

Jeni Klugman responds to my fairly critical review of this year’s HDR: ‘It is good to see interest from Oxfam GB’s head of research in the migration and development debate — however, this blog about the 2009 Human Development Report (HDR) misses basic and important aspects of the report’s analysis and policy recommendations. In particular, […]

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Eight introductory powerpoints on development – please plunder

I recently gave a two week introduction to development (undergrad level) at the University of Notre Dame, consisting of eight 45 minute lectures – here are the powerpoints for anyone wanting to nick them. Each lecture includes a brief illustrative video clip of campaigns, social movements etc. Subjects covered are: Risk and Vulnerability; The Global […]

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Mobile phones and magic bullets

The Economist continues its love affair with the mobile phone in a recent special report. Highlights: ‘In 2000 the developing countries accounted for around one-quarter of the world’s 700m or so mobile phones. By the beginning of 2009 their share had grown to three-quarters of a total which by then had risen to over 4 […]

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100 indicators of well-being or just one? Stiglitz v Layard

The OECD conference I’ve been attending is winding down. Lots of banquets, but not much booze, so I never had to try the hotel’s tempting room service item ‘outer leaves of cabbage broth to chase a hangover.’ What’s the takeaway (ideas rather than food)? The key debate seems to me to be over complexity. The […]

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Joe Stiglitz addresses 'the movement' on well-being v GDP

I’m still surrounded by the world’s statisticians (not as bad as it sounds) at the OECD Measuring the Progress of Societies conference in South Korea, where yesterday Joe Stiglitz gave a great presentation. Rather than simply rehearse the findings of his commission’s report to President Sarkozy, he reflected on why criticisms of GDP, which have […]

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How could we measure well-being in a crisis? Some thoughts from Korea

I am currently in Korea’s second city, Busan, attending a big OECD conference on ‘statistics, knowledge and policy’, organized by its ‘Measuring the Progress of Societies’ project. The massive conference centre looks out on a consumerist paradise, including a giant Tesco’s supermarket (everything’s big here, giving you that sense of suddenly having shrunk that you […]

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Charter Cities – visionary, naive or bonkers?

Charter Cities are a proposal to build cities from scratch in the world’s poorest nations, outsourcing their design and government to rich countries. Visionary, naïve or plain bonkers? Probably a bit of all three. They are the brainchild of US economist Paul Romer, who explains his idea on this (20 minute) video. He’s serious – […]

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Portfolios of the Poor – a great new book

Portfolios of the Poor gave me the same feeling of excitement as the World Bank’s epic ‘Voices of the Poor’ study. Both of them are the fruit of intense scrutiny of the real lives of poor people that uncovers insights and destroys stereotypes. Poor people are most definitely not financial illiterates, but often sophisticated managers […]

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Do we need to ration growth, and if so, who gets what's left?

Spoke at a Quaker conference on the ‘zero growth economy’ at the weekend. Quaker meetings are different: when I finished speaking to an audience of 350 people, there was total hear-a-pin-drop silence. Instead of clapping, people reflect, eyes closed, on what they have just heard. And no, even though it was after lunch, they weren’t asleep (well, […]

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