Top posts of 2017

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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)

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

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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

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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 »

How We Know It’s Christmas Time

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As Christmas approaches and the infamous Band Aid charity song Do They Know it’s Christmas resurfaces on radios, in supermarkets and in malls, so do old and harmful stereotypes of poor people living in oblivious destitution, in need of a foreigner’s donation to help them escape poverty. These stereotypes portray the poor as passive recipients of aid and poverty as a phenomenon disconnected from structural political and economic processes. In recent years, alternative charity awards – the Raid-Aid Awards – have been organized every December. This is  a concerted effort to counteract the negative stereotypes perpetuated by many charity videos and songs.Read More »

The New Secretary-General, and the Next: Reforming International Appointments

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The UN selected António Guterres as its new Secretary-General this week. Economics Professor Sanjay Reddy offers his thoughts on the deficiencies in the selection process, reform possibilities, and the future trajectory of a UN led by Guterres. Drawing on his experience as a member of the UN Economic and Social Council’s Independent Team of Advisers, Reddy argues that the UN system needs much more than the ‘fine tuning’ that Guterres has in mind.

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The announcement that the new Secretary-General of the United Nations will be Antonio Guterres of Portugal brings to an end a process of making this important appointment which has been more transparent than ever (as it included such innovations as a public debate between declared candidates). However, despite the credentials of the new Secretary-General and his laudable intentions for the organisation, the process has highlighted the continued deficiencies in the selection process, including but not confined to lack of full transparency, in particular on the basis of the final decision.

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