Last week I visited Brazil and found it to be a country on the go. At a seminar in Rio de Janeiro and later visiting government officials and think-tanks in Brasilia, I found a country Brazil proud of its recent social achievements and embarking on a new development strategy to boost production.
The seminar was aptly titled “New Economic Thinking, Teaching and Policies”, organized by the Ford Foundation, the MINDS economists’ network and hosted by BNDS (the Brazilian Development Bank).
Local and foreign economists and policy makers examined the new Brazilian approach to development, which is now made more challenging because of the expected return of global recessionary conditions. Read the rest of this entry »
As negotiators come together in Durban, South Africa, to discuss the fate of international climate policy, the balance between poverty reduction and emissions reduction is sure to be one of the most contentious issues. Economic growth in developing countries is likely to mean growing per capita emissions, though the increase can be limited by investment in low-carbon technologies. Climate policies will require diverting some spending away from other priorities, though policy can be designed so this burden does not fall on low-income countries. The twin goals of preventing dangerous climate change and fostering development don’t have to be incompatible. If economic development is swept under the table, however, they surely will be.
For some time now the focus of the discussion on the European crisis has been on Greece. Its wider dimensions, though recognised, were not emphasized. Among those dimensions was the real possibility of a banking crisis in Europe, since a haircut on bank loans to governments as part of the attempt at crisis resolution is unavoidable. Even if the banks are able to prevent that, an actual default failing resolution would hit them.
In the event of a European banking crisis, it cannot remain a regional problem given global financial integration. It would also affect emerging markets, whose growth is seen as crucial to bolstering the “multi-speed” global economy.
Jayati Ghosh, Triple Crisis blogger and co-chair, received the International Labor Organization’s Decent Work Prize on November 11. The prize recognizes major contributions to the analysis of decent work, labour law and social justice. Watch a video of her remarks at the award ceremony below and read a full transcript here. Also see her recent ILO interview on what developing countries should do to ensure that employment generation accompanies economic growth.
Back in September I was sitting in the salubrious office of an official from one of International Financial Institutions – when he slouched back in his chair, sighed and said ‘I can’t even bear to read those G20 communiqués – they are so vacuous.’ That evening, I found myself at a dinner hosted by DC law firm Jones Day where former Mexican President Zedillo branded the G20 ‘a disappointment.’
But last week Christian Aid welcomed the G20’s bold pronouncements on tax havens, financial transparency and development. President Sarkozy went as far as to say that havens that didn’t comply would be excluded from the international community. A whole programme of work on tax and development was agreed.
This was a major coup for organisations like Christian Aid and the Tax Justice Network that just three years ago were struggling to garner political support for these issues.
The social and economic system that has powered global economic relations in the past two decades is clearly in crisis. We now know only too well that periods of “rapid growth” have been based on unsustainable bubbles; that such growth has contributed little in terms of generating more decent work and has significantly increased inequality; and that people will no longer accept these unfair outcomes, as shown by the waves of protest in many countries.
We need a completely different approach to economic policy making, one that will provide for a more just and equitable society and be more compatible with the aspirations and expectations of citizens. This means that decent employment and better living conditions cannot be seen only as potential byproducts of income growth – or even as ends in themselves – but as a means to sustainable growth.
While markets expect eurozone leaders to exercise effective leadership and take action to resolve the eurozone’s sovereign debt crisis, citizens in peripheral European countries are trying to make ends meet under drastic cuts in wages and pensions, rising taxes and massive layoffs.
While the public debate and the media focus their attention either on European banks and their recapitalization needs or on the planned rescheduling of private bond holdings and the future capital needs and powers of the European Financial Stability Facility– the euro zone’s rescue fund– the anxious voices of impoverished families in Greece, Ireland, Portugal , Italy or Spain are not even recorded.
While the future of the euro hinges on the collective capacity of member countries to safeguard financial stability and avoid further contagion, the future of decent jobs for young Europeans is under threat, fueling massive protests by angry youth in most European countries.
While talks in academic circles focus on the exigency of further deepening European integration via a fiscal union, European solidarity and the legitimacy of the European social model are questioned in the streets and squares of several European capitals.
Economic analysis has become increasingly central to the climate policy debate, but the models and assumptions of climate economics often lag far behind the latest developments in this fast-moving field. That’s why Elizabeth Stanton and I have written Climate Economics: The State of the Art, an in-depth review of new developments in climate economics and science since the Stern Review (2006) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fourth Assessment Report (2007), with more than 500 citations to the recent research literature.