Macroeconomics

There are no country-bumpkin economists: A problem for economic research institutes

Since entering the world of economics a short while ago I have repeatedly been surprised by some major development institutions’ lack of regard for the country-side and rural activities. In the 2009 the World Development Report the World Bank called on an increase in urbanization, and therefore a reduction in rural employment, as “essential for economic success.” This development policy was adopted by both the World Bank and a number of senior economists after seeing the positive effects that industrialization has had in North America, Western Europe and Northeastern Asia.  One underlying view behind this popular urbanization theory is that the countryside is a breeding ground for poverty, which can only be relieved with mass migration to cities where “proper” economic activities in the service and business sectors can be undertaken.

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Theory Bites: Development, Underdevelopment and Dependency

The contemporary common language of development divides the world between developed and underdeveloped countries. This common-sensical classification also guides us to think of the two groups as rich and poor. Or even further, that the developed world, despite its imperfections, is “fine” and its people are happy—they represent the way human society should generally be—while the underdeveloped, for whichever reason, has just fallen behind—its people suffer and are not an example of what we’d like to see for humanity. The assumption is that everyone would prefer to live in a city, drive their car to work, and enjoy air conditioning and washing machines, since humans can and should “achieve” much more than washing their clothes by hand or farming for their own survival.

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Export/import restrictions – Will they really help to reduce food insecurity in Bolivia?

Mieke Dale HarrisOn the 16 October 2008 former President Clinton announced at a United Nations’ conference “we all blew it, even me.” This statement was acknowledging the major role that the west played in causing the 2006-2008 global food crisis, largely by their treatment of crops “like color TVs” rather than realizing their worth as a vital commodity for the world’s poor and thus differentiating them from material export/import goods.

Perhaps what is most surprising about this massive misjudgment of agricultural policies  is that it was heavily promoted by a number of the institutions that we tend, or at least hope, to think are working for poverty eradication and not against it. Read More »

Does Biological Preservation Prevail Over Cultural Sustainability? The Struggle of the Maya Center Community in a Modernizing World

With the highest concentration of jaguars in the world and an incredibly rich tropical biodiversity, the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary in Belize is an invaluable area not only for its scientific potential, but also due to the economic advantages of eco-tourism. Unfortunately, the installment of the wildlife sanctuary 25 years ago also meant that the inhabitants of Maya Center—a small Mopan Mayan village with a population of some 300 people located in the Stann Creek District in southern Belize—was subsequently prohibited from entering an area historically sacred to their culture. Does this mean that the new economic and scientific “necessities” prevail over the livelihoods and traditions of populations already living in the area?

In the early 1980’s, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the International Division of the New York Zoological Society began studying jaguar populations in the Cockscomb Basin after citrus farmers and hunting magazines reported sightings of jaguars in the area. Soon after the initial reports, scientific inquiries into the population of jaguars within the area resulted in the highest concentration ever recorded with estimates as high as 11 animals per 100 km². With eastern Belize dominated largely by a few wealthy citrus farmers, the establishment of a reserve was seen as a vital step to impeding and preserving the land from the increasing deforestation spawned by the citrus industry. More commonly known today as the Jaguar Reserve, the original 3,600 acres set aside in 1987 has expanded to encompass over 128,000 acres. Read More »

Can economics protect the environment?

When the last tree is cut down, the last fish eaten, and the last stream poisoned, you will realize that you cannot eat money,” Native American saying

“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” Brundtland Report

It is undeniable that our current way of life is unsustainable; If every country consumed resources and created waste at the same per person rate as the United States, we would need three to five planets to survive. Part of the problem lies in the fact that economics—the major discipline advising global and national policy—has failed to include the environment in its calculations. To rectify this problem, different methods have been proposed, so as to make predictions and come up with better ways of managing the planet’s resources without compromising the future.

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Cartoon Economics: Macroeconomic theories are still just that – Theories.

This month, for our Monday graphics series, Development Roast has teamed up with FSG Books and University of Washington Professor of Economics, the world’s first and only stand-up economist, Yoram Bauman to bring you a sneak peek into the second volume of his book The Cartoon Introduction to EconomicsLearning should be fun, so for five weeks during October, to coincide with INESAD’s Fun Economics Month, Development Roast will share one of the fascinating and fun cartoons from Volume Two: Macroeconomics. Today’s cartoon reminds that much of macroeconomic theory is still open to debate and probable future change. Read More »

Cartoon Economics: Will the world end or will the free market save it?

This month, for our Monday graphics series, Development Roast has teamed up with FSG Books and University of Washington Professor of Economics, the world’s first and only stand-up economist, Yoram Bauman to bring you a sneak peek into the second volume of his book The Cartoon Introduction to EconomicsLearning should be fun, so for five weeks during October, to coincide with INESAD’s Fun Economics Month, Development Roast will share one of the fascinating and fun cartoons from Volume Two: Macroeconomics. Today’s cartoon pitches the economic optimists versus the pessimists in the ultimate fate of the planet. Read More »

Irrationality and Heuristics: What can international development learn from behavioural economics?

In a perfectly rational world, Ted the taxi driver works long hours on days with many customers and goes home early on bad days to save money on driving. On the other side of the world, Mexican farming couple Carlos and Verónica send their children to the new school built in the next town, because they know that education will lead to a job that will make up for the time not spent on the farm. Ted, Carlos and Verónica demonstrate what is a central tenet of classical economic theory : the belief in homo economicus, the rational economic man—a being that makes fully calculated decisions in a rational manner to achieve the best possible outcome for himself. Read More »

Cartoon Economics: How to save the world

This month, for our Monday graphics series, Development Roast has teamed up with FSG Books and University of Washington Professor of Economics, the world’s first and only stand-up economist, Yoram Bauman to bring you a sneak peek into his book The Cartoon Introduction to EconomicsLearning should be fun, so for five weeks during October, to coincide with INESAD’s Fun Economics Month, Development Roast will share one of the fascinating and fun cartoons from Volume Two: Macroeconomics. Today’s cartoon shows how humility is the first rule in saving the world. Read More »

Cartoon Economics: Inflation is a lot like alcohol

This month, for our Monday graphics series, Development Roast has teamed up with FSG Books and University of Washington Professor of Economics, the world’s first and only stand-up economist, Yoram Bauman to bring you a sneak peek into the second volume of his book The Cartoon Introduction to EconomicsLearning should be fun, so for five weeks during October, to coincide with INESAD’s Fun Economics Month, Development Roast will share one of the fascinating and fun cartoons from Volume Two: Macroeconomics. Today’s cartoon show why inflation is a lot like alcohol. Read More »

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