Over at the Economy Lab in the Globe which Failed, which itself has gone from bad to worse, one of the economists they keep in their stable has either produced an extraordinarily naive analysis or a dishonest one. I am … Continue reading
On Wednesday of last week the Minister of Finance for Newfoundland and Labrador Thomas Marshall was interviewed by CBC Central Morning about a report I did for the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour (NLFL). In one respect, the fact … Continue reading
CBC Radio Central Newfoundland Morning aired an interview they did with me about inequality and the future of development in Newfoundland and Labrador. The pod cast can be found here. It is the last of the three interviews on the podcast (16min 38sec mark). The first interview is about the salmon festival and KISS. I always thought I should do a project with Gene Simmons.
Apparently the policy brief I wrote for the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour has been picked up by the Occupy Wall Street movement. The brief can be found here. The money shot from that brief would be the graph … Continue reading
Every year the UN-OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) says that 3-4 million (always different) subsistence farmers and pastoralists in a variety of different regions in Ethiopia are food insecure, and thus in need of food aid (out of a total population of 80 million) The Ethiopian government then holds a press conference and asks donors to pitch in. The number of food insecure in Ethiopia is roughly the same this year, and yet when reading the news reports in the Western media about famine in the Horn of Africa you would think something totally dramatic and different has been happening in Ethiopia this year.
On the other hand as a percentage of the population the numbers of food insecure people are substantially higher in southern Somalia where “access” to food insecure places is a key factor in donor activity in the region. When I say “access” what I mean is that getting physical access to southern Somalia is a key issue in donor efforts in the region. Southern Somalia is also controlled by Al Shabbab. And, well the powers that be have been trying to tame southern Somalis for the past 20 years, but without much success. Thus, in the past 20 years, we have had two formal military interventions (one US led and one led by Ethiopia) and myriad small scale regularly inflicted informal interventions, sometimes in the form of drones, sometimes coming as ak47s, etc. So between the war on terror, and the war on poverty it is hard to know why Somalia is in the news right now. But also more difficult to know is what is happening in the Horn of Africa militarily, politically, and economically beyond sensational reports. But, certainly since there is always enough food to feed the people of the world, we must become cognizant of the fact that famine has its own specifec political-economy, as does war, and also news reportage. So, just as poor news reporting is never a disaster of an individual mind, famine is never a natural disaster. Bad institutional configurations produce both
Where does that leave us? I am not suggesting a conspiracy theory. But when I start to put the pieces of this story together the Cassandra in me certainly hears grumblings of another military intervention in all of this news making activity. After all, what else can “access” mean?
In the mean time, though I am still waiting for a really good article/analyses on the framing of this years biggest “humanitarian disaster”, I see that other people have questions too. We are starting to get closer to a better analyses of this event with this blog post. Check it.
Not really into re-blogging articles but this essay effectively puts money laundering and corruption into context. It is useful for explaining key processes in the ‘the web of secrecy, collusions and the players that drive and sustain the world of illicit money flows’
Just in case you were wondering how the firestorms in North Africa were being spun in the policy circles of the great powers, check out the latest highly instructive speech by the president of the World Bank (see link below). What Zoellick reminds us of is that street protests are really a demand to equitably distribute economic incentives so that everyone can behave like economic maximizers. Indeed, he reminds us that economists can bring the political back into economics by reducing democracy to incentives that produce economically rational behaviour.
Apparently people are dying on the streets for the right to be incentivized so that they can behave like Homo Economicus! And what Homo E really is all about is self-evident too, so that the only problem until till now in the MENA countries is that the right incentives did not exist because Oriental desposts were too greedy and hoarded all the economic rewards that existed in the country.
Bloody clan system!
In any case now the World Bank has learnt its lesson. It now know knows that all human being are economically rational (secretly we are all moderns, it is just the clan system that keeps us down).
Thus, from now on the World Bank is willing to partner with anyone in the MENA countries (especially the women)who will free up the flow of incentives so that people all over MENA will become happier.
It is only rational.
And so the WB finds yet another way to absolve itself from thinking about market failure over the past 30 years in the MENA countries. And so to0 it can really and truly keep the political away from the economic.
But also telling is that this market place of incentives and rewards is what Zoellick thinks democracy in the West is all about too.
And I quote: “These [incentives] are not luxuries reserved only for developed countries. They reflect on the quality of governance. They improve public policy. They signal integrity. They communicate respect for the public. They treat public office as a trust. They may sound political, but they are certainly economic.
These topics are part of the economics of public choice. The public choice theorists cautioned us to think about how governments really work, compared with how we might wish them to work. The public choice advocates have called for better incentives and opportunities for citizens to monitor government more effectively. They are right.”
(Zoellick, April 2011)
What an innovative vision of humanity!
To find out more about how the World Bank spins protest from 1848 until 2011, follow the link (and yes, Zoellick really does mention 1848):
April update. This blog post was turned into a full article. Published here: http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/features/71735 ——— The way the term Arab is being thrown around these days is enough to give a person reason to pause while celebrating the victories of the … Continue reading
I do not know if anyone was paying attention to the development debates of the late nineties and new millennium. The mainstream went whole hog on the idea of development from below via entrepreneurializing peasantries and urban slum-dwellers.
Indeed so illuminated by the idea of petty capitalism the Nobel committee gave one of its real Noble prizes, the Peace Prize for 2006, to Prof. Muhammad Yunus & Grameen Bank.
Of course in good time capitalistas with a social conscience, like George Soros, would get behind the idea and start financing large micro-credit investment houses. Of course capitalism being what is and regulations being what they are in India it appears the whole thing is turning into a giant Ponzi scheme which is fleecing the poorest of the poor.
But here is the twist, in India politicians and state officials are not suffering from ideological capture as they are elsewhere and have told their public to stop paying their loans. The New York Times reports that in one state over 90% of people have stopped servicing their micro-loans.
Here is what I take to be money quote from the NYT on globalized micro-finance:
“The money lender lives in the community,” he said. “At least you can burn down his house. With these companies, it is loot and scoot.”
Indeed, some of the anger appears to have been fuelled by the recent initial public offering of shares by SKS Microfinance, India’s largest for-profit microlender, backed by famous investors like George Soros and Vinod Khosla, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems.
Notice that the “he” in the above quote is a senior public official with the State government. Burning down the house of the money lender as a form of implicit social regulation. What a novel idea.