Blog Series: Pressure in the City

cheng-feng-RUJHNe8Jyu8-unsplash

The Covid-19 pandemic and the restructuring of the global economy it has triggered have exacerbated the need to study a topic that has flown under the radar of social scientists for too long: individuals and social groups experiencing economic pressure which manifests in myriad of somatic and psychological ways. The fallout from pressure — sleeplessness, ulcers, an atmosphere of hopelessness and social mistrust, gambling, suicides, as well as a growing concern about a lack of mental health facilities in cities of the Global South — now pervades urban as well as rural environments around the world. This blog series aims at taking a fresh look at the phenomenon of economic pressure through a decisively comparative and interdisciplinary approach. We will critically interrogate the role of economic pressure in the lives of both the rich and the poor, the unemployed and the workforce, across class and continents in order to answer, among others, the following questions:

  • What meanings does economic pressure take on as it travels between different contexts?
  • How do city dwellers of diverse class, religious and gender backgrounds experience pressure in their professional and private lives? How do they accommodate, negotiate and deflect pressure?
  • Does economic pressure offer new analytical possibilities vis-à-vis other concepts used to describe similar phenomena (e.g. poverty, uncertainty, precarity etc.)?
  • What is the relation between individually perceived economic pressure and structural changes of the economy or polity?
  • What moral valuations do urban residents assign to economic pressure? What logics underpin ‘good’ and ‘bad’ forms of pressure?
  • How can inter-disciplinary methodological and/or theoretical approaches deepen our understanding of economic pressure —the forms it assumes, the actions it motivates and the effects it generates?

We welcome contributions from a wide range of scientific disciplines (political economy, anthropology, economics, sociology, development studies, gender studies, international relations, geography, etc.) as well as other professions (such as practicing psychologists, counselors, activists, bankers, sports professionals etc.). As the blog’s organizers are all Africanists, the blog will, however, have an initial focus on sub-Saharan and, especially, Eastern Africa. We are confident that this will be balanced over time.

Blog series editors:

Jörg Wiegratz is a Lecturer in Political Economy of Global Development at the School of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds, and Senior Research Associate, Department of Sociology, University of Johannesburg. j.wiegratz@leeds.ac.uk.

Catherine Dolan is Reader in Anthropology at SOAS, University of London. cd17@soas.ac.uk

Wangui Kimari is a Postdoctoral researcher at the African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town. kuikimari@gmail.com

Mario Schmidt is Postdoctoral researcher at Collaborative Research Centre “Future Rural Africa” and a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School for the Humanities, University of Cologne. marioatschmidt@gmail.com

Photo by cheng feng on Unsplash

Top posts of 2019

Keep Calm and Blog on

As the year comes to a close, we look back on our most read posts of the year. It’s been a busy year, with over 40 blog posts and two blog series (on financial inclusion and state capitalism) published. The readership of the blog has grown rapidly, the editorial board has expanded, and this year the blog was included in the Top 100 Economics Blogs of 2019 by Intelligent Economist for the first time.

Most read posts of 2019:

  1. Why so Hostile? Busting Myths about Heterodox Economics (by Ingrid H. Kvangraven and Carolina Alves)
  2. The Curious Case of M-Pesa’s Miraculous Poverty Reduction Powers (by Milford Bateman, Maren Duvendack and Nicholas Loubere)
  3. Using Marx as a Pejorative to Defend the Ease of Doing Business: Analysing The World Bank’s attack on CGD (by Dissenting Voices)
  4. The Green New Deal: Whither Capitalism? (by Güney Işıkara and Ying Chen)
  5. Neoliberalism or Neocolonialism? Evaluating Neoliberalism as a Policy Prescription for Convergence (by Rahul Menon)
  6. Rethinking the Failures of Mining Industrialisation in the African Periphery (by Ben Radley)
  7. An Alternative Economics Summer Reading List, 2019 (by members of Decolonising and Diversifying Economics)
  8. Philanthrocapitalism: How to Legitimize the Hegemony of the Rich with a “Good Vibes” Discourse (by Jorge Garcia-Arias)
  9. Mind the Gap: Addressing the Class Dimension in Higher Education (by Lorena Lombardozzi)
  10. Advocates of the SDGs have a monetarism problem (by Rick Rowden)
In 2020, Developing Economics will continue to provide much-needed critical perspectives on development and economics. Want to join the conversation? Become a contributor!

NEW BLOG SERIES: State capitalism(s) – Interrogating the ‘return’ of the state in development

6a00d83452719d69e2014e86055c29970d-800wi.jpgFrom Quantitative Easing to neo-mercantilist policies, the renewal of industrial policy, the multiplication of sovereign wealth funds and marketized state-owned enterprises, increased state participation in global value chains and global networks of corporate ownership, the state seems to be ‘back in business’ everywhere. This raises a series of questions:

  • Are we witnessing a shift to state-led development? A return of ‘state capitalism’ under a globalised and financialized form? Are these processes challenging market ascendance and/or neoliberalism as a global development regime?
  • Has there been a transformation of the developmental state and of the logics and instruments of ‘catch-up’ development? New tools of state intervention for industrial and innovation policy?
  • What are the implications of the resurgence of ‘state-capital hybrids’ (state-sponsored investment funds, state-owned enterprises, development banks, etc.) as key actors in development? Are these transforming the global development finance architecture? What is the relationship between, on the one hand, state-owned, state-controlled, and state-directed capital, and on the other hand, private capital?
  • What are the wider geopolitical and geo-economic shifts in which the rise of the new state capitalism is embedded? What is new about the recent ‘wave’ of state capitalism across the global economy? What are the strategic, structural/epochal, and contingent drivers of its emergence?
  • What is the progressive potential of these developments, both in the global South and in the global North? What are the limits to the new state capitalism, and the various forms of resistance to it?

Read More »

Islamic Finance and Financial Inclusion: Who Includes Whom, in What, and on Whose Terms?

Sabaibdjib

By Lena Rethel, University of Warwick.

With the rise of financial inclusion as the new buzzword in global development circles, it has replaced earlier items on the reform agenda such as financial modernisation or financial deepening. By their very nature financial inclusion projects are inherently political – their underlying rationale is to change who has access to what forms of credit and at what conditions. Financial inclusion is both a multi-scalar and multi-faceted phenomenon. Needless to say that its dynamics play out differently in different countries and regions. However, before uncritically embracing the financial inclusion agenda as a means to achieving a more equitable economic order, more attention should be paid to what constitutes a fundamental set of questions: who includes whom, in what and on whose terms? In this blog entry, I want to highlight some of the key issues that have emerged in relation to Islamic finance. Read More »

Top posts of 2018

KEEP-CALM-BLOG-ON.jpg

While many of you may want to forget about 2018, we promise there are some good things that happened that you might want to remember. Here are the top 10 most read posts of the year. Happy new year and enjoy!

  1. An Alternative Economics Summer Reading List (by Carolina AlvesBesiana BallaDevika Dutt and Ingrid H. Kvangraven)
  2. Not just r > g but r + q >> g: Piketty meets Ricardo in the long run of Indian history (by Rishabh Kumar, California State University, San Bernardino)
  3. Historicising the Aid Debate: South Korea as a Successful Aid Recipient (by Farwa Sial, School of Oriental and African Studies)
  4. Consuming development: Capitalism, economic growth and everyday life (by Arve Hansen, University of Oslo)
  5. The World Bank Pushes Shadow Banking in the Name of Development (Daniela Gabor, University of the West of England, Bristol, and others).
  6. Keynes or New-Keynesian: Why Not Teach Both? (by Rohit Azad, Jawaharlal Nehru University)
  7. Think Positive, Climb out of Poverty? It’s Just Not So Easy! (by Svenja Flechtner, University of Siegen)
  8. Revisiting Hirschman’s Tunnel Effect and Its Relevance for China (by Wannaphong DurongkaverojAustralian National University)
  9. Why I refuse to rethink development – again (and again, and again…) (by Julia Schöneberg, University of Kassel)
  10. Marx’s Birthday and the Dismal Science (by Carolina Alves, University of Cambridge, and Ingrid Harvold Kvangraven, University of York)

Want to be a contributor to this blog too next year? Shoot an e-mail to Ingrid Harvold Kvangraven and she’ll guide you through the submission process.

 

Top posts of 2017

kc-read.jpg

2017 was a dramatic year in many ways. But before it completely flies by, let’s not forget the important contributions made to the development debate on this blog this year! Here are the top 10 most read posts of 2017:

  1. Kicking Away the (Statistical) Ladder (Jacob Assa, UN)
  2. An Economic Strategy for The Gambia? (Sanjay Reddy, The New School)
  3. Is ‘Imperialism’ a Relevant Concept Today? A Debate Among Marxists (Ingrid Harvold Kvangraven, The New School)
  4. 80 Economic Bestsellers before 1850: A Fresh Look at the History of Economic Thought (Erik Reinert, Tallinn University of Technology)
  5. Re-centering Inequality in African Economic History (Alden Young, Drexel University)
  6. e-Book Launch: Can Dependency Theory Explain Our World Today? (editorial)
  7. The Financialization of Africa’s Development (Richard Itaman, SOAS)
  8. Towards a Critical Pluralist Research Agenda in Development Economics: Some Bricks from Berlin to Build Upon (Svenja Flechtner, Freie Universität Berlin, Jakob Hafele, Vienna University, and Theresa Neef, Freie Universität Berlin)
  9. 200 Years of Ricardian Trade Theory: How Is This Still A Thing? (Ingrid Harvold Kvangraven, The New School)
  10. Advancing a Research Agenda of Scarcity, Abundance, and Sufficiency (Adel Daoud, University of Cambridge)

Read More »

e-Book Launch: Can Dependency Theory Explain Our World Today?

connected-world.jpeg

Is it time for dependency theory to make a comeback? Its central idea is that developed (”core”) countries benefit from the global system at the expense of developing (”periphery”) countries—which face structural barriers that make it difficult, if not impossible, for them to develop in the same way that the already developed countries did. As neo-classical economics came to dominate the field in the 1980s, the theory lost prominence and traction. Given the vast imbalances that persist within and among nations in the global economy today, it’s an opportune time to revisit the framework.

To that end, INET’s Young Scholars Initiative (YSI) has released a new e-book, Conversations on Dependency Theory. The volume, released by YSI’s Economic Development Working Group, comprises interviews with 13 scholars from around the world who express a variety of viewpoints on the meaning and relevance of dependency theory in today’s context.

Hazards of a Tourist Boom

Bad_i_varme_kilder.jpeg

by Silla Sigurgeirdottir and Robert H. Wade

Iceland is surfing a tourist boom. From 440,000 tourists in 2008, numbers started surging in 2011 to reach 1.3 million in 2015 and 1.8 million in 2016. The resident population is 330,000 in an area over 40% that of the United Kingdom. Having experienced the sharpest crash of all the OECD economies in 2008-2009 Iceland regained the pre-crash level of average income by late 2014. GDP grew super-fast at over 6% in 2016, and forecasts suggest annual growth of almost 5% between 2017 and 2019, one of the fastest in the OECD.

Pre-tax salaries rose nearly 10% a year in both 2015 and 2016. Foreign exchange reserves are ample. Inflation is low, at less than 2% through 2016. Household debt to income is low. The state is paying down public debt fast; the current level is around 50% of GDP. The banks have passed stringent stress tests, with unusually low leverage ratios, low loan to value ratios, strong liquidity positions (especially in foreign currencies) and high capital ratios (close to 30%). A repeat financial crash is very unlikely.

So what is not to like? Given what is happening in Europe and the United States, political leaders elsewhere would love to have Iceland’s problems. Still, those problems could develop badly for the population at large.Read More »