Category Archives: International affairs

Institutions seldom die

Recent news that the EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) is thinking of lending to Sub-Saharan Africa shows how institutions evolve to find new goals rather than quietly close down. The EBRD, which I believe enjoys a high reputation in the development finance world, is a multilateral financial institution set up in 1991 to… Continue Reading

Could China’s population halve by the end of the century?

Demography, the study of population, is one of the few areas of the social sciences where long term predictions (over one or more decades) can have some value. This is because the dynamics of population growth depend on the current age structure (how many young versus old people), which is fixed in the short term,… Continue Reading

What has the world economy ever done for us? – EMBA elective reading 2 (*)

A lot of people in the richer economies appear doubtful that economic globalisation has been good for them. But there are hundreds of millions in the rest of the world for whom globalisation has been a critical part of their escape from poverty. * Globalisation means the greater international movement of goods and services, finance,… Continue Reading

Populism then and now – EMBA elective reading 1(*)

Consider the following list of political facts: high and rising income inequality; a perception that global market forces are leaving local people powerless; anti-immigrant feelings; blaming banks and monopolistic corporations; a perception that politics is dominated by the rich; anxiety about culture and values being eroded. This might well describe the US and some European… Continue Reading

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

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