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Tag Archives: Economy

The Growing Threat of Water Wars

In 2015, United Nations member states adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, which include an imperative to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.” Yet, in the last four years, matters have deteriorated significantly.

NEW DELHI – The dangers of environmental pollution receive a lot of attention nowadays, particularly in the developing world, and with good reason. Air quality indices are dismal and worsening in many places, with India, in particular, facing an acute public-health emergency. But as serious as the pollution problem is, it must not be allowed to obscure another incipient environmental catastrophe, and potential source of future conflict: lack of access to clean water.

We may live on a “blue planet,” but less than 3% of all of our water is fresh, and much of it is inaccessible (for example, because it is locked in glaciers). Since 1960, the amount of available fresh water per capita has declined by more than half, leaving over 40% of the world’s population facing water stress. By 2030, demand for fresh water will exceed supply by an estimated 40%.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/water-scarcity-conflict-africa-india-by-jayati-ghosh-2019-11

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2019 in Economy

 

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The End of Neoliberalism and the Rebirth of History

For 40 years, elites in rich and poor countries alike promised that neoliberal policies would lead to faster economic growth, and that the benefits would trickle down so that everyone, including the poorest, would be better off. Now that the evidence is in, is it any wonder that trust in elites and confidence in democracy have plummeted?

NEW YORK – At the end of the Cold War, political scientist Francis Fukuyama wrote a celebrated essay called “The End of History?” Communism’s collapse, he argued, would clear the last obstacle separating the entire world from its destiny of liberal democracy and market economies. Many people agreed.

Today, as we face a retreat from the rules-based, liberal global order, with autocratic rulers and demagogues leading countries that contain well over half the world’s population, Fukuyama’s idea seems quaint and naive. But it reinforced the neoliberal economic doctrine that has prevailed for the last 40 years.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/end-of-neoliberalism-unfettered-markets-fail-by-joseph-e-stiglitz-2019-11

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2019 in Economy

 

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Our Shrinking Economic Toolkits

For the last four decades, mainstream economists and policymakers have been wedded to fixed dogmas. Their blind belief in fiscal discipline and consolidation, and resulting refusal to consider more public spending even in an obvious downturn, now threatens the very stability of societies.

NEW DELHI – In the natural world, humans stand out for the complexity of the tools, technologies, and institutions that we have developed. According to the anthropologist Joseph Henrich, we owe this success to our ability to accumulate, share, and adapt cultural information across generations. But just as interconnection causes our “collective brains” to expand over time, isolation can cause them to shrink. Economists should take note.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/economists-intellectual-isolation-social-disaster-by-jayati-ghosh-2019-10

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2019 in Economy, Uncategorized

 

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The IMF Should Take Over Libra

Brilliant ideas that would be catastrophic in the hands of buccaneering privateers should be pressed into public service. That way, we can benefit from their ingenuity without falling prey to their designs.

ATHENS – The Libra Association is fragmenting. Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, Stripe, Mercado Pago, and eBay have abandoned the Facebook-led corporate alliance underpinning Libra, the asset-backed cryptocurrency meant to revolutionize international money. More corporations are likely to follow as pressure upon them mounts from worried governments determined to stop Libra dead in its tracks.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/international-monetary-fund-should-take-over-facebook-libra-by-yanis-varoufakis-2019-10

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2019 in Economy, Uncategorized

 

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No More Half-Measures on Corporate Taxes

In the face of climate change, rising inequality, and other global crises, governments are losing out on hundreds of billions of dollars in tax revenue as a result of corporate tax arbitrage. Yet despite the obvious deficiencies of the global tax regime, policymakers continue to propose only piecemeal fixes.

NEW YORK – Globalization has gotten a bad rap in recent years, and often for good reason. But some critics, not least US President Donald Trump, place the blame in the wrong place, conjuring up a false image in which Europe, China, and developing countries have snookered America’s trade negotiators into bad deals, leading to Americans’ current woes. It’s an absurd claim: after all, it was America – or, rather, corporate America – that wrote the rules of globalization in the first place.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/oecd-proposal-multinational-tax-avoidance-by-joseph-e-stiglitz-2019-10

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2019 in Economy

 

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What If The World Treated The U.S. Like a Rogue State

THE PLANETʼS DENSEST EMBODIMENT of international cooperation lies in the heart of Geneva, in the few square miles around the lake. From the lakeshore, a brief walk through a park will bring a visitor to the Palace of Nations, built in the 1930s as the seat of the League of Nations, and now the United Nations’ office in the city. To the east, the World Trade Organization; to the north-west, the World Health Organization; an amble away, the headquarters of the Red Cross, the International Labour Organization, the International Telecommunications Union, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, among dozens of others. Also nearby is the InterContinental Hotel, where in November 2013, Iran agreed to dilute its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief—the first edition of the pact that President Donald Trump abandoned last year.

It’s entirely fitting that just down the road from the InterContinental is the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, which occupies a complex named Maison de la Paix, its six buildings arranged like strewn flower petals. The InterContinental is of particular interest to Thomas Biersteker, a political scientist at the Institute, who has made a career studying sanctions. Biersteker, an American who taught at Brown University until 2007, is prone to discussing the antics of nation-states in a tone of wry curiosity, as if relaying the activities of ant colonies in his backyard. He lives for part of the year in a house in the Swiss Alps, where he hosts so many discussions on his preferred topic that his colleagues call it the “Sanctions Chalet.” Typically, Biersteker’s case studies deal with bad actors: states gone rogue, dangerous leaders thumbing their noses at the world. Increasingly, though, these descriptions seem to fit not just autocracies flush with oil or tinpot dictatorships but also the United States of America.

https://www.huffpost.com/highline/article/sanctions/?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly9kdWNrZHVja2dvLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAHVp6j9Fox4M2Fptyh27d2Ed2WVMjlvD-EOugVEe3ceSA7yM_VIBoxLGqxWccZ_tTN7C_TWgeDYhgAK9NJr9k6P2W0hLAVhLkclsdI5csgWHq5hViPd5jGTE2Delmp4TjSLD2nLE7TK9uJS7ugyib2Zvgy0SjqcVm9lAsvhFTC-G

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2019 in Reportages, Uncategorized

 

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Is fair trade finished?

It wasn’t very long ago that a banana was just
a banana – just a curved, yellow fruit. All you knew, if you bought a
bunch in 1986, was that they cost around 97p per kilo. You weren’t told
if they were organic or pesticide-free. You didn’t know if they came
from Costa Rica or the Dominican Republic. And you certainly weren’t
invited to worry about the farmers who grew them – or if their children
went to school, or whether their villages had clinics. You just picked
up your bananas and walked to the next aisle for your coffee or tea or
chocolate, none the wiser about where they came from either, or about
the people who farmed them.

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/jul/23/fairtrade-ethical-certification-supermarkets-sainsburys

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2019 in Reportages

 

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Good New Idea

The broad outline of 21st-century history, its first couple of decades anyway, is starting to become clear. A period of credit-fuelled expansion and runaway financialisation ended with an abrupt crash and an unprecedented bank bailout. The public’s reward for assuming the bankers’ losses was austerity, which crippled the recovery and led to an interminable Great Recession. At the same time, increasing automation and globalisation, and the rise of the internet, kept first-world wages stagnant and led to an increase in precarity. Elites did fine, and in the developing world, especially Asia, economies grew, but the global middle class, mainly located in the developed world, felt increasingly anxious, ignored, resentful and angry. The decades-long decline in union power made these trends worse. The UK had its longest ever peacetime squeeze on earnings.​1 In response to this the political right played one of its historically most effective cards – Blame the Immigrants – and achieved a string of successes from Brexit to Trump to Orbán to Bolsonaro to Salvini and the AfD, succeeding in normalising its new prominence to such an extent that a quasi-fascist party scored 34 per cent in the French presidential elections, which were nonetheless hailed as a triumph for the ‘centrist’ winner.

The left, let’s be honest, has had a pretty bad century so far. This is partly a matter of electoral defeats, from the US to the UK to France, Germany, Italy, Brazil etc, but also a consequence of its failure to come up with a new ideological framework to match the new landscape. Many current problems seem likely to grow worse. In 1980, the bottom half of earners in the US took home 20 per cent of all income; by 2014, that figure had fallen to 12 per cent. The richest 1 per cent, meanwhile, went from earning 12 per cent of all income to earning 20 per cent. Variations on that theme played out in many countries. The old centre-left was complicit in that distribution of economic power, and as a result the old centre left model of a kinder, gentler free-market capitalism looks outdated and inadequate. Many of the current trends in automation and globalisation seem certain to make existing problems of income stagnation and inequality worse. You don’t have to believe in an imminent artificial intelligence job apocalypse to see that work will continue to change in the direction of machines doing more and humans doing less, and often less interesting, work. These trends overlap and compound. As Philippe Van Parijs and Yannick Vanderborght put it in Basic Income: A Radical Proposal for a Free Society and a Sane Economy,

https://www.lrb.co.uk/v41/n14/john-lanchester/good-new-idea

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2019 in Economy, Reportages

 

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For the sake of life on Earth, we must put a limit on wealth

It is not quite true that behind every great fortune lies a great crime. Musicians and novelists, for example, can become extremely rich by giving other people pleasure. But it does appear to be universally true that in front of every great fortune lies a great crime. Immense wealth translates automatically into immense environmental impacts, regardless of the intentions of those who possess it. The very wealthy, almost as a matter of definition, are committing ecocide.A few weeks ago, I received a letter from a worker at a British private airport. “I see things that really shouldn’t be happening in 2019,” he wrote. Every day he sees Global 7000 jets, Gulfstream G650s and even Boeing 737s take off from the airport carrying a single passenger, mostly flying to Russia and the US. The private Boeing 737s, built to take 174 passengers, are filled at the airport with around 25,000 litres of fuel. That’s as much fossil energy as a small African town might use in a year.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/sep/19/life-earth-wealth-megarich-spending-power-environmental-damage

 

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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The economics of bubbles

Last year, Ross Gerber, a corporate investment manager, Tweeted a warning about Tesla. Gerber wanted investors to know that Tesla’s success would put other industries ‘at risk’. Which ones? Just oil, internal combustion engine automobiles, car dealers, railroads, auto parts, automobile services, and gas stations. ‘Did I forget some?’ he asked, implying yes, he did. Gerber included hashtags referencing Uber and Netflix as comparable ‘disruptors’. This is why, Gerber implied, there was so much ‘FUD’ (fear, uncertainty and doubt) in the media about Tesla. Gerber suggests a compelling storyline: the underdog hero, Tesla, is up against the evil incumbent forces that will play dirty to defeat it, but Tesla will overcome – just as Netflix and, presumptively, Uber have done.

The Tweet does not substantiate any of this. It doesn’t say why Tesla’s business case is like Netflix’s or Uber’s. It doesn’t say why all the purportedly threatened industries share the same interests here. It doesn’t have to – the human brain does that on its own without any help. As the US literary scholar Jonathan Gottschall has shown in his book The Storytelling Animal (2012), even the faintest sketch of a plotline is enough to prompt our minds to fill in the details. Gerber’s story outline is a familiar enough sketch of David taking on not just one but several Goliaths. It’s a good story outline. But it also ignores many important parts that do not fit with the plucky underdog narrative. It implies that all these alleged Goliaths have the same interest. It’s fiction, fantastically so.

https://aeon.co/essays/economic-bubbles-are-irrational-but-we-can-understand-them

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2019 in Economy, Reportages

 

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