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Corruption and the economy

Monday, March 17, 2014

Pub economics often explains the plight of poor countries in terms of the problems posed by corruption. That approach might have some value, and to raise the quality of your analysis of this topic, it’s helpful to say why and how it might arise, and the effects it might have. Rich countries are also vulnerable of course.

The Economist has a really helpful couple of articles on this topic, which it calls ‘crony capitalism’.

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Some Topical Issues in Trade and Development

Monday, March 03, 2014

I was delighted to give a talk to A2 economists at Wilson's School in Surrey today covering some aspects of trade and development economics. In particular we looked at the work of Hidalgo and Hausmann and their newly published Index of Economic Complexity. The slides from my talk are streamed below.

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Quiz on the Index of Economic Complexity

Sunday, March 02, 2014

The Atlas of Economic Complexity is a new book (perfect for the coffee table) from Richard Hausmann and Cesar Hidalgo. It maps out the degree of complexity of individual economies around the world and provides a hugely visual and interesting insight into the importance of knowledge in shaping the future prosperity of countries in the global economy. I have put together a 10 question quiz on some of their key results - a useful activity I hope for students interested in the commodity composition of trade of developed and developing countries. Have a go!

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IMF joins in the inequality debate

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Inequality might be falling between nations as a global middle class is emerging, but inequality is on the rise within nations. Quite why this is happening is a matter of debate, but the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has joined in the discussion asking if rising inequality is an obstacle to economic growth and development.

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Michael Metcalfe: We need money for aid. So let’s print it

During the financial crisis, the central banks of the United States, United Kingdom and Japan created $3.7 trillion in order to buy assets and encourage investors to do the same. Michael Metcalfe from State Street argues that these same central banks print money to ensure they stay on track with their goals for global aid? Without risking inflation? A Print-Aid matching scheme could boost aid payments by up to 40% or $200 billion.

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Growth and Development Challenges and Opportunities for Mexico

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

In this independent research assignment, Year 12 Economist Doug Feagin considers some of the factors influencing the macroeconomic performance of Mexico - a fascinating country and one of the MINT cluster of countries discussed by Jim O'Neill in his recent programmes for the BBC. 

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Manufacturing in Africa

Monday, February 24, 2014

Economics coverage of Africa can be a bit bleak (though perhaps it shouldn't be, with incomes rising rapidly in parts of Africa). There are often bad news stories, particularly in terms of human development indicators. News of economic progress often centres on the exploitation of primary commodities, with all the risks and issues that presents.

If you hope Africa will experience development, you’re likely to want to see sustained and robust economic growth. That, in turn, will require industrialization.

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Robert Peston - How China Ruled the World

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Robert Peston looks at the astonishing investment in urban infrastructure in China in recent years - 30 new airports, 26,000 miles of motorways and a new skyscraper every five days have been built in China in the last five years - required viewing for those interested in a key aspect of Chinese economic growth and development. Link to How China Ruled the World (BBC World)

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Economic Growth and Development in Sub Saharan Africa

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Here are some links relevant to the June 2014 pre-release case study on economic prospects and challenges for the countries of sub Saharan Africa.

The IMF expects seven of the world’s fastest growing countries during the next five years will be in Sub-Saharan Africa – Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Zambia.

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Unit 4 Macro: Safety Nets in Sub-Saharan Africa

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A new World Bank report looks at the growing scale and scope of welfare safety nets in a number of countries in sub Saharan Africa. We tend to take entitlement and access to welfare provision for granted in high income countries. 

What contribution can a welfare system make to promoting inclusive growth and development. Here is the World Bank's slideshow and follow this link for their latest research papers on the topic.

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Rethinking Slums

You all know about exploding rates of urbanisation and the growth of mega cities. There’s much to celebrate in this trend, and economists are keen to advise countries how to urbanise successfully.

After all, for most subsistence farmers, life can be so grim that even life in a slum or shanty town can be a marked improvement. I’ve reluctantly admitted this fact to myself, and come to see slums as a stepping stone on the process of development.

A new study, reported in the Economist, suggests I might be wrong, and that we shouldn’t be ready to tolerate slums, and should be more determined to see their eradication – they might even be a barrier to development.

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10 Questions on Development Economics (Matching Pairs)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Here is a ten question matching-pair quiz covering aspects of development economics - a short revision quiz for A2 macro students created using the free software available from Zondle. Have a go!

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Unit 4 Macro: Eurasia and Natural Resources

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Natural resource economics are applied in this new World Bank blog to the Eurasian region - plenty of overlap with your studies on the issue in the context of sub Saharan Africa and other parts of the world. Click here for the blog article. 

Click here for a blog article on the natural resource curse from Graham Watson (2012)

Our streamed revision presentation on the topic is below

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Unit 4 Macro: Development Progress for the Ivory Coast

Sunday, February 02, 2014

The BBC Africa Report looks at the importance of largely French funded infrastructure projects as a driver of growth and development in the Ivory Coast. But the economy is becoming more open to investors from other countries. Some of this investment may come from Japan - read this article

Related article - focusing on the mining boom in the Ivory Coast - Ivory Coast hopes for golden future as mining sector opened up

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Building a Future for Chocolate

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Here is a short video on the challenges and opportunities facing cocoa producers across the world but especially in sub Saharan Africa which accounts for 70% of global production. Supply is struggling to keep pace with rising world demand and there have been some structural declines in production in several countries.

The FT's Emiko Terazono reports from Ghana on how chocolate manufacturers and traders are striving to boost cocoa supplies, which are coming under pressure from climate change and urbanisation amid growing demand for confectionery in emerging markets. Farmers are being encouraged to develop supplementary incomes and invest in sustainable production methods.

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“We’re all middle class now”. Or should that be middle income?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

As the comedian Mark Steel once said, “anybody who says we’re all middle class now obviously hasn’t been to Wigan” (I can make that joke because my dad’s from there). One huge global cause for celebration is that the scourge of absolute poverty is in retreat. Instead we hear much more about rising inequality within nations, which is progress, of a sort. In amongst these discussions is talk of a rising new middle class (see above – link here). What might this mean?

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Strategies to promote development - the coffee industry in Vietnam

Sunday, January 26, 2014

BBC2 are showing a documentary about the massive growth of the coffee industry in Vietnam at 8.00pm tonight - if you miss it, it will be repeated on Monday 3 Feb at 23.30, and also available on i-player. It looks as if it will provide some excellent examples of agricultural strategies to promote development, as well as constraints on that development. 

I have asked my students to read this article from the BBC News Magazine which summarises some of the programme, and to look at this summary of the World Bank's development report produced last summer

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Working for the Few - Development and Inequality

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Notes from a talk given by Ricardo Fuentes-Nieva (Head of Research at Oxfam) at the Marshall Society Economics Conference in Cambridge in January 2014

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The Emerging World and Poverty - Where Next?

Notes taken from the Marshall Society Economics Conference  - this panel session focused on growth and development issues in South Korea and sub Saharan Africa

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Poverty: New Thinking About an Old Problem

Here are some notes taken from a talk given by Peter Coy, Economics Editor for Bloomberg Businessweek, at the Marshall Society Economics Conference in Cambridge in January 2015

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China’s Development - Past Present and Future

Notes from a talk given by Liu Xiaoming, Chinese ambassador to the UK at the Marshall Society economics conference in Cambridge in January 2014.

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Capitalism: an engine for progress

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

It's the time of year when many commentators are going back to basics and asking if our dominant economic model - free market capitalism - is a force for good in the world.

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Global Inequality and the double decker bus

Monday, January 20, 2014

According to Oxfam, half of all the world's wealth is owned by 85 people, who could all fit onto a single double-decker bus. 

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Put yourself in the position of a Syrian refugee

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

This resource from The Guardian could offer students an excellent way of considering the negative social consequences of civil war and internal conflict.

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Unit 4 Macro: Who Are the Extremely Poor?

Sunday, January 05, 2014

This short you tube clip published by the World Bank looks at some salient facts and figures on the extent of extreme poverty in the world

The extreme poor live on less the US$1.25 a day. Many lack basic sanitation and clean drinking water; they're malnourished and suffer from lack of education. The facts speak volumes

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Guardian Economic Development Blog - Top Stories in 2013

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Here is a selection of development storiesposted in the Guardian global development blog during the last year. Many of them are relevant for students wanting to extend and enrich their awareness for A2 macro papers.

MINT - The Next Economic Giants (BBC Radio 4)

Monday, December 30, 2013

Here is a new series on BBC radio 4 that will excite students and teachers who enjoy tracking the changing centre of gravity in the world economy. Jim O’Neill, former chief economist and head of asset management at Goldman Sachs, presents the flagship four-part series in Radio 4’s focus on the MINT countries – Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey – tipped as the next to assume their places at the high table of economic success. Details of the programme can be found here.

Unit 4 Macro: Vertical Farming - Growing Food without Soil and Water

This is a really interesting short video from the World Bank on how a Kenyan entrepreneur is using the concept of vertical farming to grow food and fodder using 80% less water. In the classroom, show the video and get the students to find ten ways in which this innovation can have a development impact - there is so much in this clip!

A Kenyan entrepreneur has adapted Hydroponics, a technique that allows to grow plants without soil, to African climate. The technique that traditionally needs an energy intensive climate control, now allows to grow plants in simple sheds without the use of electricity

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Unit 4 Macro: Africa Growth Forum 2013

The International Growth Centre (IGC) held their first Africa Growth Forum in Kampala, Uganda in December 2013. All of the papers and presentations from the forum are now available from this link - there is some interesting extension material here for students and teachers looking to enrich their understanding of some of the growth and development dynamics facing the African continent at this crucial time. 

Mandela’s economic legacy

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Twenty years ago, South Africa had a GDP of $136bn. Today, that has almost tripled to $385bn. Tax receipts have risen from 114bn South African Rand to 814bn Rand, and in the last ten years labour productivity per worker has risen from $8,800 to $25,600. Electricity was available to only 58% of households in 1996, now it is available to 85%. And social grants for welfare which were paid to 2.4mn people in 1994 are now paid to 16.1mn.

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Development Economics e-book

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Working with one of my A2 Economics classes, we spent a few lessons rsearching useful case studies for the development economics section of Edexcel's course. Here is the results of our work.

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Updates on Economic Reforms in China

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Third Plenum has finished in China and with it has come some potentially significant reforms designed to rebalance the Chinese economy and shape future growth and development. The BBC's Linda Yueh has been prominent in reporting on this crucial stage of Chinese development and we have linked below to some of her recent output broadcast on the BBC.

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Unit 4 Macro: Inequality and Economic Development

This is an updated revision presentation covering aspects of inequality and economic growth/development - it is designed for Year 13 A2 macro students

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Unit 1 Micro: Mexico’s Water Farms

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

"The market will define our future" - the words of an organic farmer growing produce in Mexico City's water farms and which - according to this excellent video report from the Financial Times - have the potential to feed huge numbers of people living in the metropolis. Careful husbandry of the canals and surrounding farm land creates the opportunity for farmers to complete between seven and nine harvests a year, an interesting link to the concept of price elasticity of supply. The video reinforces the importance of human capital - detailed, specific knowledge of the growing conditions and calendar of crops that is handed down from one generation to another.

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Unit 4 Macro:Apps to Help Farmers in Ghana

Sunday, November 17, 2013

This BBC news report is superb background for students who want a mini case study of the potential of mobile technology in improving farm yields and incomes for farmers in developing countries. A 29-year-old developer from Ghana has created a mobile app that he hopes will transform the livelihoods of farmers and help address food shortages

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Unit 4 Macro: OneDollarGlasses, MakaPads and the Jompy Water Boiler

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Tech City news focuses here on seven business start-ups geared firmly to being innovative in addressing basic problems facing millions of the world's poorest people in low-income countries. An ideal read and resource for students wanting some examples of how entrepreneurship and innovation can be used in supporting basic development and enterprise.

One dollar glasses

MakaPads

Jompy Water Boiler

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Hans Rosling on ‘Five ways the world is doing better than you think’

Don't you just love the BBC website? Just as I am preparing my lessons on global Poverty and Inequality for my A2 Macro students, here is an article written by Hans Rosling about the enormous progress most countries have made in recent decades. He uses statistics to suggest that tremendous global progress has been made towards improving quality of lives in five key ways.

There is a quiz - How Much Do You Know About The World, or 'The Ignorance Test', which will make a great lesson starter.

And as a follow-up, BBC2 has an hour-long programme tonight at 21.00 (22.30 in Scotland) called Don't Panic - the truth about Population (which will be available on i-player) - the programme synopsis says

"Using state of the art 3D graphics and the timing of a stand-up comedian, world famous statistician Professor Hans Rosling presents a spectacular portrait of our rapidly changing world. With 7 billion people already on our planet we often look to the future with dread, but Rosling's message is surprisingly upbeat. Almost unnoticed we have actually begun to conquer the problems of rapid population growth and extreme poverty."


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Unit 1 Micro: Volatile Prices and Buffer Stock Schemes

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Here is an updated revision presentation covering price volatility in commodity markets and the economics of buffer stock "price stabilisation" schemes. designed for unit 1 micro course

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Unit 4 Macro: Mobile Technology and Growth in Africa

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Suyash Raj Bhandari considers some of the ways in which the rapid expansion and adoption of mobile technology in Africa can act as a spur to growth and development on the continent. We link also to some useful background video resources on this issue.

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Unit 4 Macro: Amartya Sen

In a recent assignment, A2 students were asked to write a 500 word profile on each of two development economists of their choice and to capture their key ideas and connect to one or more current issues in development. I will be adding some of their responses to the economics blog. Here Ben Evans focuses on the work of Amartya Sen

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Unit 4 Macro: Muhammad Yunus

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Suyash Raj Bhandari profiles the Founder of the Grameen Bank, Mohammad Yunus

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Unit 4 Macro: Daron Acemoglu – Institutional Development

In a recent assignment, A2 students were asked to write a 500 word profile on each of two development economists of their choice and to capture their key ideas and connect to one or more current issues in development. I will be adding some of their responses to the economics blog. Here Ben Evans focuses on the work of Daron Acemoglu

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Unit 4 Macro: Who Will Grow Next?

Monday, October 28, 2013

In the second part of his conversation with Professor Richard Hausmann, John Authers from the FT asks which countries are well set for growth in the years ahead. Hausmann argues that there are three factors that explain growth - firstly how well natural resources are used, second how many productive capabilities a country currently has. And thirdly, how easy can a nation can acquire new productive capabilities. He claims that Mexico is better placed than Brazil on account of improved diversification into more sophisticated products. Hausmann forecasts that China will grow at a rate of around 5% between now and 2020, well below the growth target set by the Chinese government.

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Unit 4 Macro: Aid and Economic Development

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Here is an updated streamed presentation on overseas aid and economic development (updated October 2013)

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Unit 4 Macro: Microfinance and Economic Development

Friday, October 25, 2013

Here is an updated revision presentation covering aspects of the growth of microfinance and the role that it can play in driving development. We have also linked to some suggestions for background reading on the microfinance issue.

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Unit 4 Macro: Growth Elasticity of Poverty

Growth elasticity of poverty is a measure of elasticity (responsiveness) that calculates how much poverty falls for each percentage point in economic growth. According to a recent estimate from World Bank development economists Luc Christiaensen, Punam Chuhan-Pole and Aly Sanoh, that elasticity was about 2.0 in the developing world as a whole (excluding China) during the 2000s, but only 0.7 in Africa. In other words, the rapid growth achieved in many African countries over the last decade or more has not had as much impact on inequality as in other regions.

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Unit 4 Macro: How Countries Grow

The nature of A2 economics specifications is that they lag interesting and important developments in the subject much of which are directly relevant to what students are taught in the classroom. The role of complexity in understanding how and why countries grow is one such example and I have blogged before about the work of Cesar Hidalgo and Richard Hausmann through the Observatory of Economic Complexity - see "Teaching Trade in a Different Way"

It is a joy to find the Financial Times covering some of their ideas in a brace of short videos as part of the John Authers Daily Note. You can always find these clips on the FT's You Tube Channel and I strongly recommend this for ambitious and enthusiastic students.

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Hinkley China Power.

Monday, October 21, 2013

A huge reminder about the shifts in economic power arrived with the news about the development of Hinkley C nuclear power station.

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Unit 4 Macro: Keeping up to Speed in Development Economics

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Are you a student taking an A2 economics course in development economics? Each day fresh research and news articles appear that are directly relevant to your work and keeping up to speed can be difficult! Our Scoop.It board provides an avenue to follow with a daily selection of useful articles to extend and enrich your understanding and awareness. Click here or follow the live stream below. The RSS feed for this board can be found here

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Angus Deaton- - The great escape from inequality

Friday, October 18, 2013

It was a pleasure to visit the LSE earlier on this week to hear a lecture from the distinguished economist Professor Angus Deaton from Princeton University in the United States. His new book "The great escape from inequality" is on my must-read list for the half term holiday and brings into focus over 250 years of changes in health and income inequalities across the world economy.

I will blog about his book a little later on but for now this Financial Times interview provides an introduction to some of the main themes of his book. Incidentally, Professor Deaton has strong views on the efficacy of foreign aid and this chapter of his book has provoked some strong responses from the pro-aid lobby active on twitter. Click below for the full video of his lecture at the LSE.

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