Category Archives: International affairs

Trade and the global economy

In part of my new MFin elective Understanding the Global Economy and Financial System I explore the changing views of economists on international trade, which has been one of the most powerful causes of global economic growth over centuries. * The traditional view of trade – correct but incomplete The reason why trade works is specialisation. If… Continue Reading

Why are some countries richer than others?

The first part of my new MFin elective Understanding the World Economy and Financial System next term will explore the question, why are some countries richer than others? * One of the most important, interesting but hotly contested questions in economics is, why are some countries richer than others? The world is astonishingly unequal; the life… Continue Reading

Letter from Dublin

The last time I was in Dublin, a few years ago, it was in the company of a woman I was in love with, the sun was shining (at least in my memory) and we were on holiday. My latest trip, to give a talk to the annual Energy Ireland conference, where the delegates’ suits were… Continue Reading

Some mostly good news on gender equality

Women’s access to health, education, economic opportunity and political power have been improving but the picture is very uneven geographically. Although most indicators improve with economic development the variation shows that a lot can be done even before countries reach western living standards. * Those who think of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as mainly… Continue Reading

The IMF includes the RMB in the SDR basket

On 30 November 2015 the IMF voted to include the RMB (the Chinese “people’s currency” denominated in yuan) in the basket of currencies it uses to calculate the value of the Special Drawing Rights, from October 2016. This is largely symbolic but should encourage further international financial reform in China. * What does it actually… Continue Reading

The true story of the Euro crisis

Most economist agree on the causes of the repeated crises of the Eurozone but that explanation is not the one that many governments, and the European Commission, want you to believe. * The problems of the Eurozone – bank failures, sovereign debt crises and bailouts and above all a protracted recession and mass unemployment –… Continue Reading

Global foreign reserves are now falling

The foreign exchange reserves held by governments, having risen for over a decade, have recently fallen. This is mainly because they are being used, as intended, to protect against turbulence in financial markets that would otherwise hurt the developing economies. * Foreign reserves are assets held by governments as a safety net against abrupt changes… Continue Reading

Africa and the “resource curse”

Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is abundantly endowed with natural resources, whose value has increased in recent decades. But this has not led to increased benefits for the majority of the people. A recent IMF working paper sheds more light on the challenge of making Africa’s wealth work for most Africans. Ahead of the forthcoming annual Cambridge… Continue Reading

Greece repays IMF using the IMF’s own “currency”

Greece this week repaid €750m to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which it funded by drawing on its SDR account at the IMF. This legitimate but unusual move caught many commentators by surprise and drew attention to the little known SDR. * The SDR – Special Drawing Right – is something of a curiosity in… Continue Reading

Still debating the causes of the world financial crisis

Major world historical events such as the financial crisis that swept much of the world in 2007-09 typically have multiple causes. In 2014 there was an outpouring of new books about the causes of the First World War which started a century before. Historians continue to disagree about why the nations of Europe went to… Continue Reading