Critique of Mainstream Economics Decolonizing Economics Heterodox Economics Publications

Standing in the Way of Rigor? Economics’ Meeting with the Decolonizing Agenda (new Working Paper)

I have a new paper out with Surbhi Kesar in the New School Department of Economics’ Working Paper series: Standing in the Way of Rigor? Economics’ Meeting with the Decolonizing Agenda.

The abstract:

This paper critically engages with various aspects of the decolonization movement in economics and its implications for the discipline. We operationalize the insights from this engagement using a survey of 498 economists that explores how faculty across different kinds of departments, disciplines, geographies, and identities perceive the problems of economics teaching, how they think economics pedagogy should be reformed, if at all, and how they relate to decolonial critiques of economics pedagogy. Based on the survey findings, we conclude that the mainstream of the field’s emphasis on technical training and rigor, within a narrow theoretical and methodological framework, likely stands in the way of the very possibility for decolonizing economics, given its strong contrast to key ideas associated with the decolonization agenda, such as positionality, centering power relations, exposing underlying politics of defining theoretical categories, and unpacking the politics of knowledge production. Nonetheless, the survey responses clearly chart out the challenges that the field faces in terms of decolonizing pedagogy, which is a first step towards debate and change.

Africa Dependency theory Economic Development Heterodox Economics Imperialism Marx Publications

Samir Amin and Beyond: Radical Political Economy, Dependence and Delinking Today (Special Issue)

Along with Maria Dyveke Styve and Ushehwedu Kufakurinani, I edited a special issue in Review of African Political Economy on Samir Amin’s work and its relevance for contemporary problems.

You can read our introductory editorial here: Samir Amin and beyond: the enduring relevance of Amin’s approach to political economy. We also wrote a blog post about the issue that you can find here.

Decolonizing Economics Methodology Publications

New article: Imputing Away the Ladder

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.

The abstract:

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.

Read the full paper here. If you don’t have access to New Political Economy, you can request a PDF from Jacob or me through ResearchGate.

Africa Development Finance Economic Development Publications

New article: Financial subordination and uneven financialisation in 21st century Africa

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.

Critique of Mainstream Economics Economic Development Experimental Economics Publications

New article: Nobel Rebels in Disguise — Assessing the Rise and Rule of the Randomistas

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.

Africa Development Finance Economic Development Imperialism Publications

New working paper: Beyond Financialisation – The Need for a Longue Durée Understanding of Finance in Imperialism

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!

Heterodox Economics Publications

¿Por qué tan hostil? Quebrando mitos sobre la economía heterodoxa (translation)

My work with Carolina Alves on Heterodox Economics is now translated to Spanish and published in the Colombian journal Ensayos de Economía. Download the full Spanish article or read the working paper in English. Thanks to Orlando Nikolai Santos Alvarado for the translation.

Screenshot 2020-08-07 at 20.45.24

Covid-19 Critique of Mainstream Economics Heterodox Economics Publications

Changing the Narrative: Economics After Covid-19 (new article)

I wrote an article on how COVID-19 exposes weaknesses in the dominant Economics narrative, and how heterodox economics offer important alternatives, with Carolina Alves for the Review of Agrarian Studies. Here’s the abstract:

In this ar­ti­cle, we argue that so­ci­eties’ un­pre­pared­ness and in­ad­e­quate re­sponses to the Covid-19 pan­demic ex­pose weak­nesses in the foun­da­tions of the dom­i­nant eco­nomic par­a­digm. We doc­u­ment how eco­nom­ics came to dis­em­bed it­self from broader so­ci­etal analy­sis and how this has in­flu­enced pub­lic pol­icy in prob­lem­atic ways, lead­ing to priv­i­leg­ing of ef­fi­ciency over re­silience. We then go a step fur­ther to con­sider the role of eco­nomic ev­i­dence in pub­lic pol­icy more gen­er­ally. Fur­ther­more, we demon­strate how het­ero­dox eco­nom­ics can en­rich our un­der­stand­ings of our economies’ weak­nesses and of how to build a more re­silient and just econ­omy. We con­clude that we need an ex­pla­na­tion of the cri­sis that is ca­pa­ble of see­ing the econ­omy as more than just mar­kets and as em­bed­ded in so­ci­ety; one that is ca­pa­ble of link­ing the causes and con­se­quences of the pan­demic to our sys­tems of pro­duc­tion and dis­tri­b­u­tion.

Read the full paper.

Dependency theory Economic Development Publications

New Article: Beyond the Stereotype: Restating the Relevance of the Dependency Research Programme

I recently published “Beyond the Stereotype: Restating the Relevance of the Dependency Research Programme” in Development and Change. Here is the abstract:

This article evaluates the relevance of dependency theory for understanding contemporary development challenges, especially in the light of changes in the global economy over the past 50 years. In order to do so, the article rectifies previous misunderstandings of the scholarship and offers a new definition of dependency theory as a research programme, rather than a singular theory. Four core tenets of this research programme are identified: a global historical approach; theorizing of the polarizing tendencies of global capitalism; a focus on structures of production; and a focus on the specific constraints faced by peripheral economies. While each of these elements can be found in many contemporary theories, what makes dependency theory unique — and a particularly strong research programme — is the combination of these elements. The article demonstrates how this approach provides a deep and broad understanding that is necessary to appreciate the persistence of uneven development with reference to two case studies, namely successful industrialization in South Korea, and how the fragmentation of global value chains has impacted industrialization in Indonesia. Finally, the article argues that approaching these kinds of cases through a dependency research programme can contribute to a fruitful renewal of development studies.

You can read my twitter thread about the paper here.
I also wrote about the findings in the article in openDemocracy and Progress for Political Economy.
Critique of Mainstream Economics Economic Development Experimental Economics Publications

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.