Unequal Inequalities Revisited

1.png

Any discussion of inequality includes an implicit normative or ethical comparison of distributions; a certain distribution of some good, or of gains in that good, is acceptable or not acceptable, is better or worse, is improving or stagnating. If discussions of inequality also inevitably involve rankings and comparisons of different distributions, then how inequality is defined and measured will affect these rankings and comparisons. The choice of measurement of inequality is therefore not value neutral.Read More »

Kicking Away the (Statistical) Ladder

kicking-away-the-ladder

Developed countries often lecture developing and emerging countries on the appropriate policies and institutions necessary for economic success. This is done either bilaterally or through multilateral organizations such as the World Bank, IMF, OECD or European Union. Cambridge economist Ha-Joon Chang exposed the hypocrisy of this approach in his provocative 2002 book Kicking Away the Ladder: Development Strategy in Historical Perspective. Chang suggests that when today’s rich countries were themselves developing, they used practices opposite to what they preach today, including industrial policies, high tariffs and infant industry protection. Therefore their current advice to poorer countries amounts to ‘kicking away the ladder’ of development.

A lesser-known but equally disturbing process has occurred in the realm of economic statistics, in particular national income accounts. The EU and OECD often criticize the national accounts of developing countries, and a recent example is a claim made in a blog by Robert Barro: “There are suspicions that China’s reported growth rates in recent decades have been boosted by manipulation of the national-accounts data.” While no statistical system is beyond doubt, the biggest manipulations of data in history, in fact, have benefited (and were supported by) rich countries.Read More »

The Rise of the Rest? A shameless plug

Screen Shot 2016-12-27 at 11.05.28.png

During the summer I wrote a piece on the rise of emerging markets since World War II for the Delma Institute, a consulting firm based in the UAE. The piece is designed to be read on the web as an interactive (apparently that is what all the hip kids are doing nowadays). This blog post is a shameless plug to get you to read it. Below I pick a few juicy items from it to wet your appetite.

But first, who should read the full piece? It will make for perfect holiday reading if:

  • You want to take extended bathroom breaks to escape your family and need some reading.
  • You want a big picture overview – for yourself or your undergraduate students – of global economic development since WWII.
  • You haven’t been on your computer enough during the last quarter.

The piece essentially tries to answer two questions: Have emerging markets ‘risen’? And will their ‘rise’ become more widespread? It does so by painting a picture of the major changes in the global economy since World War II, focusing on: 1. Increasing global economic integration and the spread of capital; 2. The rise of emerging Asia (and China in particular); and 3. The fall of communism. Read More »