Blog & Updates

New Edited Volume: Conversations on Dependency Theory

connected-world

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.

Report on Eurobonds in Sub-Saharan Africa

I recently published the report Bond to Happen? Recurring Debt Crises in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Rise of Sovereign Bond Issuance. The report assesses risks and opportunities associated with Eurobond issuance in sub-Saharan Africa. The case studies in the report expose a lack of accountability when it comes borrowing processes in a selection of sub-Saharan African countries. In fact, the process of bond issuance is often plagued by lack of transparency and ultimately legitimacy, from the perspective of the citizens of the issuing country. As this is playing out in the context of a defective framework for sovereign lending and borrowing and a flawed system for debt restructuring, issuing Eurobonds entails many serious risks.

Read some coverage of the report:

New article on Determinants of Borrowing Costs in Sub-Saharan Africa

A paper I wrote with Aleksandr Gevorkyan was recently published in the November 2016 issue of the Review of Development Economics.  The article is Assessing Recent Determinants of Borrowing Costs in Sub-Saharan Africa. Empirically the paper finds that sovereign bond yields are significantly influenced by global volatility, commodity prices and global liquidity—all factors that are out of the control of the sub-Saharan economies in question.

The research was picked up by UN News Centre and the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis, and we published op-eds on the findings on Interfima, Developing Economics, Chartered Institute of Development Finance, and Seeking Alpha.

New blog: Developing Economics

Last month, I created the Developing Economics blog. This blog takes a critical approach to development economics and seeks to stimulate debate and critical reflection among academics and practitioners from all relevant fields. I decided to create this platform after noticing that although there are a lot of great blogs on heterodox economics and on international development, there is no blog devoted to the specific niche of heterodox/critical thinking on economic development.

The blog is meant to be hub for critical thinking (not just my opinions), so please get in touch should you want to contribute to the blog! Many excellent guest bloggers have already contributed.

You can also follow the blog on Twitter and like it on Facebook.

Rethinking Economics Norway Takes Off

Rethinking Economics Norway, an organization I co-founded and am a board member of, officially became an organization this August. The network now consists of more than 60 Norwegian economists, including professors, professionals, and students at all levels (BA, MA, PhD).

We have received a lot of media attention so far (see the website), including this piece by the whole board in Aftenposten and this piece by Ebba Boye and I in Dagens Næringsliv (Norway’s largest business newspaper). There was also a 6 page piece in Klassekampen on our movement, also citing my book review of Anwar Shaikh’s Capitalism.

Several Economics professors have responded to our critique of the Economics discipline, as they do not agree that there is a need for a wider variety of theories to be taught at Norwegian Economics departments. As the Norwegian Economics departments are thoroughly mainstream, we clearly still have a lot of work to do.