Happy to contribute to the interesting initiative The Economics Observatory with the blog post “#economicsfest: Does economics need to be ‘decolonised’?” In it, Carolina Alves and I reflect on the two roundtable discussions that D-Econ curated at the Bristol Festival of Economics last year (see here). We discuss historical efforts to decolonise economics, what we mean by the ‘colonisation’ of economics, the impact of colonisation on the discipline, and decolonisation of both teaching and research.
Jacob Assa and I recently published our work on the implications of changes in measurement standards of GDP for global convergence debates – and the political economy implications of recent reforms. In short, we find that how we measure GDP is largely determined by Western institutions and the economic structures of Western economies, thus underestimating the growth of non-Western economies that have different economic structures. The recent increase in the proportion of imputations in GDP has also had the effect of boosting the GDP of the West relative to the rest of the world, which is the inspiration for the paper title: Imputing Away the Ladder.
What are the implications of changes in measurement standards of GDP for global convergence debates? What are the political economy implications? To answer the former question, we examine the changes in national accounting standards from the early 1990s. Revisions to the System of National Accounts (SNA) – the international standard for constructing GDP – include several major changes to how production is measured, including the reclassification of financial intermediation services, R&D, and weapons systems as productive activities – all areas in which countries in the West has had an advantage in recent decades. In addition, there has been an increase in the proportion of imputations in the 1993 and 2008 revisions, which privileges the economic structures of the West. Overall, we find that these changes have had the effect of boosting the GDP of the West relative to the rest of the world and thus to an underestimation of global convergence compared to previous measures of GDP. To answer the second question, the paper unpacks the political economy implications of national accounting standards favouring Western economies along several axes, including the impacts on voting shares in international institutions, domestic policy incentives and epistemological debates about sustainable development.
In November 2020, I attended a really interesting panel on decolonising Economics at the Bristol Festival of Ideas, curated by Carolina Alves of D-Econ and chaired by Romesh Vaitilingam of the Economics Observatory. Along with Fadekemi Abiru, Surbhi Kesar, and Farwa Sia, I discussed Decolonising Economics: What does it mean and how is it done? You can view the recording here.
D-Econ also hosted another panel on decolonising economics, with Carolina Alves, Keston Perry, Imran Rasul, and Rhonda Vonshay Sharpe. Watch it here:Why Diversifying and Decolonising Economics Matters to Everyone.
Key Questions on Global Inequality is an interview series that forces academics to consider how our own upbringings and positionalities affect how we see the world. Here is the interview they did with me, where I dig into how my own childhood led me to see and challenge global inequality in particular ways, and how this in turn eventually led me to heterodox economics and debt justice work.
I recently published a new article in Community Development, along with Kai Koddenbrock and Ndongo Samba Sylla. In the article, Financial subordination and uneven financialisation in 21st century Africa, we ask how the global process of financialization has unfolded across the continent and what it means for relations of dependence. The empirical analysis of aggregate country data shows that financialization is, at best, an uneven and patchy process in the region, not a general structural shift in the way capital accumulation is organized.
I just published a new article in the Review of Political Economy, “Nobel Rebels in Disguise — Assessing the Rise and Rule of the Randomistas,” which assesses the theoretical and empirical foundations of the use of randomised control trials in Economics, and its impact on policy debates in development economics and in the aid industry.
Along with Kai Koddenbrock and Ndongo Samba Sylla, I recently published the pre-print Beyond Financialisation – The Need for a Longue Durée Understanding of Finance in Imperialism on OSF Preprints. This is part of an ongoing research project we are working on and we welcome any comments on the paper!
It was great fun to discuss the big questions in development economics with Prof. Dan Banik on his podcast In Pursuit of Development. Listen to it and read more about it here.