Impoverished Economics? A Critical Assessment of the New Gold Standard (new essay)

I wrote an essay for the World Development Symposium on Development and Poverty Alleviation. Here is the abstract:

This article situates the 2019 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel in the history of thought on development, tracing how the focus, theory and methods have shifted in the field. The article evaluates theoretical and methodological critiques of the way randomized control trials (RCTs) are employed by the laureates, as well as attempts to overcome these challenges. In terms of theory, the article demonstrates what gets lost when experiments are guided by methodological individualism and assumptions of individual utility-maximizing behavior. In terms of methodology, the article unpacks the limits of RCTs related to their causal model, and their lack of attention to human agency and wider socio-economic context. Finally, the article discusses the experimental approach’s relevance for research and policy-making and cautions against any approach becoming a “gold standard,” due to the importance of pluralism for maintaining an open debate about development.

Read the full article here and do check out the other essays as well.

Samir Amin’s Legacy and Relevance Today (DSA 2019 Panel)

Please consider submitting to this panel on the legacy of Samir Amin that I am co-convening with Maria Dyveke Styve (University of Bergen) and Ushehwedu Kufakurinani (University of Zimbabwe) at the Development Studies Association (DSA) conference at the Open University, Milton Keynes, June 19th to 21st 2019. Continue reading “Samir Amin’s Legacy and Relevance Today (DSA 2019 Panel)”

New Working Paper: Imputing Away the Ladder?

I recently published Imputing Away the Ladder? Implications of Changes in National Accounting Standards for Assessing Inter-country Inequalities as a Working Paper with Jacob Assa with the Global Poverty and Inequality Dynamics Research Network.

Read our blog post for the GPID network here. I also summarized our arguments in a Twitter thread.

Our findings were also covered in UnHerd. You can download our data here.

New paper: ‘Caveat emptor: the Graduation Approach, electronic payments and the potential pitfalls of financial inclusion’

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Paulo dos Santos and I recently published a piece in Policy in Focus 14 (2): 55-57. This is a publication by The International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth. You can also read the piece on Developing Economics.

New Edited Volume: Conversations on Dependency Theory

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An e-book I co-edited on dependency theory was recently published on the Institute for New Economic Thinking’s (INET) website. The e-book is the first volume of the e-book series Dialogues on Development and it includes 13 interviews with prominent scholars who have differing views on dependency theory.

Read about the e-book on INET’s website.

Download the e-book.

Download individual chapters (interviewees in brackets):

New article: Better than Cash, but Beware the Costs

Paulo dos Santos and I recently published Better than Cash, but Beware the Costs: Electronic Payments Systems and Financial Inclusion in Developing Economies in Development and Change. The article dissects and critically evaluates the assumptions behind the policies promoted by the Better Than Cash Alliance.

Here is the abstract:

This article considers current proposals for using electronic payments systems to promote financial inclusion — that is, to widen the availability of financial and monetary services in developing countries. While such systems can generate significant savings in the operation of monetary systems, payment services markets are typically uncompetitive and require regulatory and broader state interventions to ensure those savings are widely distributed. The use of those systems to broaden the reach of for-profit lenders raises a number of concerns, as a growing literature has documented how microcredit initiatives in developing countries have resulted primarily in expansions in consumption credit to households, often under predatory terms. The authors advance two original arguments in this connection. First, the perverse results of many microcredit initiatives reflect the underdevelopment of the areas concerned: without broader development strategies, potentially transformative productive projects are rare and unprofitable to finance. In contrast, widespread unmet consumption needs ensure consumption credit offers lenders a profitable alternative business orientation. Second, and in light of this, electronic payments platforms can contribute to economic development by enabling the establishment of well-regulated or public systems of electronic ‘narrow banks’ restricted from lending, but capable of widening access to affordable payments, savings and insurance services.