2009
Rogoff, Kenneth S, and Carmen M Reinhart. 2009. “The Aftermath of Financial Crises.” American Economic Review 99 (2): 466-472. DASH RepositoryAbstract
A year ago, we presented a historical analysis comparing the run-up to the 2007 US subprime financial crisis with the antecedents of other banking crises in advanced economies since World War II (Reinhart and Rogoff 2008a). We showed that standard indicators for the United States, such as asset price inflation, rising leverage, large sustained current account deficits, and a slowing trajectory of economic growth, exhibited virtually all the signs of a country on the verge of a financial crisis - indeed, a severe one. In this paper, we engage in a similar comparative historical analysis that is focused on the aftermath of systemic banking crises.
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2008
for Affairs, Weatherhead Center International. 2008. “Weatherhead Center Names Twenty-Six Graduate Student Associates and Grants Three Dissertation Completion Fellowship”.Abstract
The Weatherhead Center for International Affairs is supporting twenty-six doctoral candidates as Graduate Student Associates for 2008-2009. The Center’s Graduate Student Associates are a multidisciplinary group of advanced degree candidates from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences’ departments of Anthropology, Government, History, Religion, Public Health and Sociology on topics related to international affairs.  The Center provides its Graduate Student Associates with research grants, office space, and computer resources; and they participate in a variety of seminars, including their own graduate student seminars during which they present and receive feedback on their work. This year grantees, along with their research projects, are as follows: Marcus Alexander, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Government. Behavioral political economy; experimental social science; econometrics; dynamics of conflict and cooperation.Christopher Bail, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Sociology. Diverse Diversities: the configuration of symbolic boundaries against immigrants in twenty-three European countries.Suzanna Chapman, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Government. Measuring and explaining trends in restrictive immigration policy in wealthy democracies, 1960–2006. Alex Fattal, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Anthropology. Demilitarization, demobilization, and reintegration of insurgents in Colombia. Garner Gollatz, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Anthropology. Healing, pilgrimage, and spirituality at the Sanctuary of Lourdes, France.Karen Grépin, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Health Policy. Economics of health systems; health human resources; and effectiveness of health development assistance. Research area: Africa, specifically Ghana.Zongze Hu, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Anthropology. How locals have encountered and seen the national state in a North China village. Robert Karl, Ph.D. candidate, Department of History. State formation, politics, violence, and U.S. influence in 20th century Colombia. Yevgeniy Kirpichevsky, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Government. Secret weapons and secret diplomacy in international relations. Ian Klaus, Ph.D. candidate, Department of History. The role of trust in the business and military relations of the British empire.Diana Kudayarova, Ph.D. candidate, Department of History. Labor policy and labor-market strategies of white-collar professionals in the Soviet Union. Rebecca Nelson, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Government. Explaining variation in the terms of sovereign debt restructurings with private creditors in the post-WWII era.Vernie Oliveiro, Ph.D. candidate, Department of History. The United States’ efforts against the bribery of foreign public officials by multinational corporations wishing to do business abroad, 1975-1997. Sabrina Peric, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Social Anthropology. Examining intersections of violence, identity and primary resource extraction in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s ethnographic present, and in its history. Sanjay Pinto, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Sociology and Social Policy. The Political Economy of Social Stratification: Varieties of Class Structure in Post-Industrial and Newly Industrialized Societies.Giacomo Ponzetto, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Economics. The role of partisanship and voters’ asymmetric information in the political economy of trade policy. Brenna Powell, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Government and Social Policy. Comparative ethno-racial politics, civil conflict and political violence; dissertation work in Northern Ireland, Brazil, and the United States.Jonathan Renshon, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Government. How status considerations affect the calculations of states in international politics.Meg Rithmire, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Government. Building modern cities: development, space and power in urban China. Claire Schwartz, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Government. Implications of the shift from state governance toward "civil governance" in industrial regulation and the differential effects of developed and developing countries. Sarah Shehabuddin, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Government. The rules of engagement: women’s rights and the determinants of secularist-Islamist relations. Anthony Shenoda, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Anthropology and Middle East Studies. Coptic orthodox Christian encounters with the Miraculous in Egypt.Anya Vodopyanov, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Government. Political economy of service provision in the Middle East: impact of increased basic service provision by Islamic groups on the quality and reach of government services.Ann Marie Wilson, Ph.D. candidate, Department of History. An investigation into the origins of modern American human rights activism, focusing on the Anglo-American humanitarian movements that arose in response to crises in Armenia, Russia, and the Congo Free State between 1880 and 1920.Lili Zhang, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Government. Reputation and War Termination: An approach based on psychology and behavioral economics. Min Zhou, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Sociology. Grassroots organizations in the 2005 anti-Japan movement in China. The Center also granted three dissertation completion fellowships for the current academic year:
  • Yevgeniy Kirpichevsky, Graduate Student Associate and Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Government was awarded the Sidney Knafel Dissertation Completion Fellowship
  • Giacomo Ponzetto, Graduate Student Associate and Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Economics was awarded the Hartley Rogers Dissertation Completion Fellowship
  • Nico Slate, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of History was awarded the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs Dissertation Completion Fellowship
 
for Affairs, Weatherhead Center International. 2008. “José Manuel Barroso to Deliver the 18Th Paul-Henri Spaak Lecture”.Abstract
The President of the Commission of the European Union, José Manuel Barroso, will speak at the Weatherhead Center's 18th Paul-Henri Spaak Lecture on September 24. Created in 1981 thanks to the generosity of Frank Boas, the Spaak lecture series brought eminent Europeans to Harvard to address issues of importance to both Europe and the United States. After its suspension in 1999—and thanks to a donation by the Nicolas Janssen Family Fund of Brussels—this lecture series has been re-launched to address the new challenges and prospects of transatlantic relations.President Barroso will deliver the 2008 Paul-Henri Spaak Lecture titled "A Letter from Brussels to the Next President of the United States."Barroso became Commission President in the midst of the ratification process of the "Constitutional Treaty," worked out to further advance European unity and to better accommodate the EU enlargement by the formerly Communist Central European countries as well as Malta and Cyprus. He dealt with a crisis when the French and Dutch rejected this Treaty in a referendum in 2005, and spearheaded the drafting of a “Reform Treaty” to meet its constituents’ demands, which was ratified by a large majority of EU members but rejected by the Irish voters in a referendum in 2008. This lecture series was named after Paul-Henri Spaak, the Foreign Minister of Belgium who played a decisive role in working out the Treaty of the European Economic Community and EURATOM of 1958.
Brown, Vincent. 2008. The Reaper's Garden: Death and Power in the World of Atlantic Slavery. Harvard University Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract
What did people make of death in the world of Atlantic slavery? In The Reaper's Garden, Vincent Brown asks this question about Jamaica, the staggeringly profitable hub of the British Empire in America—and a human catastrophe. Popularly known as the grave of the Europeans, it was just as deadly for Africans and their descendants. Yet among the survivors, the dead remained both a vital presence and a social force. In this compelling and evocative story of a world in flux, Brown shows that death was as generative as it was destructive. From the eighteenth-century zenith of British colonial slavery to its demise in the 1830s, the Grim Reaper cultivated essential aspects of social life in Jamaica—belonging and status, dreams for the future, and commemorations of the past. Surveying a haunted landscape, Brown unfolds the letters of anxious colonists; listens in on wakes, eulogies, and solemn incantations; peers into crypts and coffins, and finds the very spirit of human struggle in slavery. Masters and enslaved, fortune seekers and spiritual healers, rebels and rulers, all summoned the dead to further their desires and ambitions. In this turbulent transatlantic world, Brown argues, “mortuary politics” played a consequential role in determining the course of history. Insightful and powerfully affecting, The Reaper's Garden promises to enrich our understanding of the ways that death shaped political life in the world of Atlantic slavery and beyond.
  • 2009 Co-winner of the Merle Curti Award, Organization of American Historians
  • 2009 James A. Rawley Prize, Organization of American Historians
  • 2008-2009 Louis Gottschalk Prize, sponsored by the Executive Board of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies and the Louis Gottschalk Committee
Adjaye-Gbewonyo, Kafui. 2008. “Farmers' Perceptions of Benefits and Risks from Wastewater Irrigation in Accra, Ghana.” Fuaf Foundation. Publisher's Version
Williamson, Jeffery G, Rafael Dobado Gonzalez, and Aurora Gomez Galvarriato. 2008. “Mexican Exceptionalism: Globalization and De-Industrialization, 1750–1877”.Abstract
Like the rest of the poor periphery, Mexico fought with de-industrialization in the century before the 1870s. Yet, Mexican manufacturing defended itself better than did the rest of the poor periphery. Why Mexican exceptionalism? This article decomposes the sources of de-industrialization into productivity events abroad, globalization forces connecting Mexico to those markets, and domestic forces. It uses a neo-Ricardian model to implement the decomposition, advocates a price dual approach, and develops a new price and wage data base. Mexican exceptionalism was due to weaker Dutch disease effects, better wage competitiveness, and the policy autonomy to foster industry.
Estévez-Abe, Margarita, and Takako Hikotani. 2008. “Japan’S New Extrovert Leaders: How Institutions Change Incentives and Capabilities”.Abstract
Japanese political leaders have become "extrovert" in two ways. First, they have become extrovert in terms of seeking media exposure. They have become much enamored of cameras and sound bites. Although the former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi (in office from April 26, 2001 to September 26, 2006) did not create this trend, he definitely turned the new trend into a routine by making twice-daily appearances in front of the TV camera—a practice his successors Prime Ministers Shinzo Abe (from September 26, 2006 to September 26, 2007) and Yasuo Fukuda (from September 26, 2007 to present) have inherited. Second, Japanese political leaders have become more assertive and vocal on security and foreign policy issues. Recent developments in Japanese defense policy, including sending Self Defense Forces to Iraq, would not have happened if it were not for the leadership of Prime Minister Koizumi. More politicians actively debate foreign policy in the media, and try to draw appeal with their foreign policy expertise. Why is this change occurring? What is the source of the increasingly "extrovert" behavior among Japanese political leaders?
A paper originally prepared for "Japan and the World: The Domestic Politics of How the World Looks to Japan" Conference at Yale University, March 9-10, 2007. The authors are indebted to comments by the fellow conference participants. Special thanks to Michael Thies for his detailed comments.Download PDF
Domínguez, Jorge I, and Juan Enriquez. 2008. “What About Austerity?”. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Within the billions of sentences about the financial bailout there is one word notably absent, austerity. All talk is of payments, supports, subsidies, incurring more debt, stimulus packages. The thesis seems to be: If only we spend more the party can go on. True, only if the financial meltdown is a temporary mismatch and dislocation in housing and credit markets. But suppose there is something fundamentally wrong with the US economy. Then spending more will not fix it. Getting the diagnosis right means getting the treatment right. It may save us a trillion or two.The subprime collapse is one symptom of years of little regulation, under-taxing, overspending, and massive debt. One way to understand what is happening in the United States is to look at what occurred time and again in Latin America and Asia, hotbeds of financial and banking crises. What we are living through happened time and again in Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico, as well as Korea and Thailand.If there is too much debt, people lose confidence in the banks, then credit markets, currency, and government.For more than a decade, the international financial cop, the International Monetary Fund, forecast a hurricane was heading toward US shores. As did many heads of the treasury and the Fed. It is, to paraphrase a great writer, a chronicle of an agony foretold. There are five basic drivers of these crises, all based on excess: high income concentration, too much debt, too much reliance on foreign money, not enough tax revenue, and reckless government spending. Time after time governments believe they are different. They are bombarded by warnings but ignore, postpone, spend even more, and crash.Over past decades, most US wages have fared poorly. Despite stagnant wages, consumer spending and debt increased, fueled by cheap credit. Companies also went on a debt binge. Careless deregulation allowed financial cowboys to run the system. Responsible CEOs who kept some cash, maintained moderate debt, invested for the long term, got pink slips. Financial chop shops did leveraged buyouts using a company's own cash and credit. To survive, companies piled on debt.Many politicians decided reelection depended on cutting taxes and offering more benefits. Increase Medicare, postpone Social Security reform, hire more bureaucrats, and pay for a two-front war. Debt grew to pay for this party. These were not true tax cuts, just postponed debt; now we owe more and the bill has come due with interest.Complicating this crisis is US economic hegemony. There were few places to park a lot of money. Despite the euro, European policies on debts and deficits are not much to brag about. So foreigners have gorged on US debt. The United States continues importing more than it exports. Middle Easterners and Asians who save and invest bought dollars for decades, but some of this money is now fleeing. The dollar has dropped sharply. Gold and oil have skyrocketed. In financial crises, huge pools of capital cross borders very quickly; a few can make a great deal of money shorting the country's currency.The United States requires a massive restructuring to address its debt, cutting back on its borrowing, spending, and wars. The bailout package is essential to keep the credit markets open. But absent sentences that include the word austerity all the bailout will accomplish is a temporary postponement. Bailout and stimulus are a stopgap.A solution requires the country to begin to spend what it earns, reduce its mountainous debt, and address massive liabilities, restructure Social Security, pension deficits, military, and Medicare. No wonder politicians would rather spend more of your money now rather than address these problems. Because we have been spending 5 to 7 percent more each year than we earn, a forced restructuring, triggered by a currency collapse, would have the same effect on wages and purchasing power that the housing collapse had on housing prices. So let's learn from our Latin and Asian friends and act before it is too late.Juan Enriquez, managing director of Excel Medical Ventures, is author of "The Untied States of America: Polarization, Fracturing, and Our Future." Jorge Dominguez is vice provost for international affairs and a professor of Mexican and Latin American Politics and Economics at Harvard University.
Meierhenrich, Jens. 2008. The Legacies of Law. Cambridge University Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Focusing on South Africa during the period 1650–2000, this highly original book examines the role of law in making democracy work in changing societies. The Legacies of Law sheds light on the neglected relationship between path dependence and the law. Meierhenrich argues that legal norms and institutions, even illiberal ones, have an important—and hitherto undertheorized—structuring effect on democratic outcomes. Under certain conditions, law appears to reduce uncertainty in democratization by invoking common cultural backgrounds and experiences. In instances where interacting adversaries share qua law reasonably convergent mental models, transitions from authoritarian rule are shown to be less intractable. Meierhenrich’s innovative longitudinal analysis of the evolution of law—and its effects—in South Africa during the period 1650–2000, compared with a short study of Chile from 1830–1990, shows how, and when, legal norms and institutions serve as historical causes to both democratic and nondemocratic rule.
Varshney, Ashutosh. 2008. “Assault on India’S Fabled City of Dreams”. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Terror has rocked India before but never have terrorists been so audacious. South Mumbai is India’s economic heart. This attack is "India’s 9/11".Mumbai is no routine urban agglomeration. It is a fabled city, where millions of Indians, migrating from poor hinterlands, seek a living; where rags-to-riches stories are not uncommon; where vast business deals are struck. It is where dreams are manufactured by a film industry that gives countless Indians relief from the struggles of life. Millions identify with the city.Mumbai is a paradox. It has areas of appalling squalor but is India’s city of hope. It is in south Mumbai that the Tatas honed world-class business skills, Zubin Mehta learnt how to conduct Beethoven’s Fifth and Salman Rushdie understood how to turn the drama of everyday life into novels. By targeting south Mumbai, the terrorists have not only attacked the economic symbol of a rising India but also its most globalised quarters.A big hypothesis beckons: India is a highly unequal democracy in a bad neighbourhood, and as long as its democracy, inequalities and regional misfortunes remain unreformed, it will be vulnerable to terrorism.Consider how Indian democracy has addressed terrorism. India’s politicians have asked: are terrorists simply terrorists, or are they Muslim or Hindu terrorists? This question is tied up with electoral politics. Muslims comprise about 13 per cent of India’s population. Given how they are geographically distributed, they form a crucial electoral segment of at least a quarter of India’s parliamentary seats. Seeking Hindu votes, some politicians have been quick to equate terror with Islam. Others, especially pro-Muslim political parties, focus on the unfair treatment of Muslims by the police rather than the fight to eliminate terror.Recently Indian democracy has been treated to the obverse of "Muslim terror". Prima facie evidence and intelligence suggest the rise of Hindu networks practising terror against Muslims. In India’s democracy, terror has become identified not as an evil but as an outgrowth of the grievances of Muslims or Hindus, or as a sign of whether the Indian state is unfair to Muslims or Hindus. That is a recipe for further disasters. Inequalities are the second part of the problem. The Indian economy has been booming, but while some business leaders, film stars and sports icons are Muslim, Muslims mostly come from the poorest, least educated and most poorly skilled communities.Nowhere is this contradiction more evident than in Mumbai. It has some of the richest Indian Muslims but there is a huge Muslim underclass and a connection between Mumbai’s underworld and its poor Muslims has been noted. Muslim gangs are among the most powerful players in Mumbai’s organised crime. To many, crime appears to offer greater and easier rewards than a dogged pursuit of regular employment. Finally, Indian democracy functions in a region, whose failings are second only to the Middle East’s. Recent works by Pakistani scholars make it clear that the state in Pakistan has long been fractured between agencies that support terrorism and those that seek to control it. India has its troubles in Kashmir and the north-east, but these conflicts have never reduced the Indian state to a shambles. Alone in south Asia, India has had sufficient institutional strength to hold regular elections.India has to ask how long it can continue to be institutionally strong if the neighbourhood is so violent. Its borders are porous and the prospect of maritime terrorism, raised by the Mumbai carnage, makes them more so. Foreign policy and national security are increasingly tied up with India’s political health, with potential consequences for India’s economic resilience. What can be done? How to include India’s Muslims in the economic mainstream is key. India’s political parties need to learn that terrorism cannot be seen as a vote-winner. It is an evil and a security threat. If political parties link terrorism with Muslims or Hindus, they will only bring greater catastrophe closer. Finally, India must vigorously cultivate peace with Pakistan. Luckily, a government today exists in Pakistan that has made the most resolute gestures towards peace in decades. President Asif Ali Zardari has opened up a unique opportunity for regional peace. After Mumbai, India needs to respond.
Varshney, Ashutosh. 2008. “Why It Won’T Happen: The Improbability of an Indian Obama”. Publisher's VersionAbstract
On January 20, when Barack Obama is formally inaugurated as president, the US will have a tryst with destiny. As famously defined by Jawaharlal Nehru, a national tryst with destiny is “a moment...when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance”. Scholars of nationalism agree that the US was founded upon an ideology, not ethnicity or race. The ideology was contained in the Declaration of Independence of 1776. “We hold these truths to be self-evident”, it said, “that all men are created equal”. Europe, the Old World, was horribly tied up in feudal hierarchies. The New World would have political and social equality at its core. As a corollary, rising from below became the socalled American dream. In reality, however, the US has not fully lived up to this ideal. Indeed, the creed of political equality came entwined with a founding ambiguity. The founders did not abolish slavery, an institution diametrically opposed to equality. This original ambiguity has haunted the US. The election of Obama as president liberates America from its basic contradiction. It is a shining moment in the historical journey of American nationhood and a landmark moment for world history. No society has yet elected someone from its deepest subaltern trenches to the highest office of the nation. Obama is not a slave’s descendant, but he is African-American. It should be no surprise that an international debate about whether other nations can produce an Obama has begun. The debate in India, too, has been vigorous. Can Mayawati become India’s Obama? Can a Muslim be elected India’s prime minister? A Muslim PM would, indeed, be a celebratory landmark for Indian secularism, but that is not an exact comparison. No community of India has suffered more than the nation’s Dalits. Muslims have historically had a dualistic structure: a ruling class and an aristocracy on one side and a vast mass of poor on the other side. In significant ways, that dualism continues to this day: the Azim Premjis and Shah Rukh Khans on the one hand, and the teeming millions on the other. In contrast, no film and sports stars or business leaders have come from the Dalit community. Though not enslaved, at least in modern times, Dalits, much like the African-Americans, have been segregated, stamped upon, and treated shabbily. India also has a founding ambiguity. Our Constitution abolished untouchability, but it is still widely practised. A Dalit PM would constitute a true parallel to the election of Obama. Can India produce an Obama? Three great differences between India and the US make it unlikely. First, party establishments cannot easily be challenged until there are open intra-party elections for the leadership of political parties. American elections start with the primaries, allowing anyone in a political party to stake a claim to leadership. Lacking internal elections, India’s parties today are on the whole family properties. The partial exceptions are the BJP and CPM. But the BJP cannot easily have a leader not approved by the RSS. And the CPM is ruled by an unelected politburo.The Congress was historically based on internal elections, but with the exception of a feeble attempt in the 1990s, internal elections, suspended by Indira Gandhi in 1973, have not been restored. The institutional decay of India’s political parties means that rank outsiders, like Mayawati, tend to create new political parties, but it is well known that it is much harder to create a new nationwide political organisation than use an existing one. The competition between political parties in India is remarkably vigorous, but competition inside is its exact opposite. Second, the US has a presidential system, India a parliamentary one. Since a US president is elected by the whole nation, a presidential system creates a national political arena. Every presidential candidate has to think of how to lead the nation. In a parliamentary system, the electorate votes for an MP, but there is no national election for the PM. Only when a parliamentary system has two (or three) nationwide parties, as in the UK, do political leaders tend to compete the way American presidential candidates do. India does not have a two-party system.Third, to mobilise citizens for vote, one has to speak in a language that the citizens can understand. Political campaigns take place in a linguistic register. Until India becomes more or less fully literate and also bilingual, India’s primary political arenas will be linguistically diverse provincial units. As a result, state-level Obamas will emerge, but national-level Obamas will be extremely hard to come by. Mayawati is at best a provincial Obama, with one major difference. Obama never ran a campaign of bitterness and anger; he subscribed to post-racial politics. In contrast, before the current Brahmin-Dalit brotherhood phase began, Mayawati conflated the politics of dignity with the politics of revenge. Only movement politics, aimed at putting the various communities together, can tear down India’s institutional constraints. The freedom movement was the last great movement that built unity in India. It produced impressive national political leaders. The JP movement in the 1970s presented an alternative version of national unity, but it could not really take off. The Advani-led rath yatra was also one of the biggest movements of 20th century India. But it did not unite; it only divided. Until such time as India’s political parties become more internally democratic, a national level two-party system emerges, or strong movements of national unity come to the scene, India’s national leaders will continue to come from party establishments, not from the lower reaches of society.
Ferguson, Niall. 2008. The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World. The Penguin Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Niall Ferguson follows the money to tell the human story behind the evolution of finance, from its origins in ancient Mesopotamia to the latest upheavals on what he calls Planet Finance.Bread, cash, dosh, dough, loot, lucre, moolah, readies, the wherewithal: Call it what you like, it matters. To Christians, love of it is the root of all evil. To generals, it’s the sinews of war. To revolutionaries, it’s the chains of labor. But in The Ascent of Money, Niall Ferguson shows that finance is in fact the foundation of human progress. What’s more, he reveals financial history as the essential backstory behind all history. Through Ferguson's expert lens familiar historical landmarks appear in a new and sharper financial focus. Suddenly, the civilization of the Renaissance looks very different: a boom in the market for art and architecture made possible when Italian bankers adopted Arabic mathematics. The rise of the Dutch republic is reinterpreted as the triumph of the world’s first modern bond market over insolvent Habsburg absolutism. And the origins of the French Revolution are traced back to a stock market bubble caused by a convicted Scot murderer. With the clarity and verve for which he is known, Ferguson elucidates key financial institutions and concepts by showing where they came from. What is money? What do banks do? What’s the difference between a stock and a bond? Why buy insurance or real estate? And what exactly does a hedge fund do? This is history for the present. Ferguson travels to post-Katrina New Orleans to ask why the free market can’t provide adequate protection against catastrophe. He delves into the origins of the subprime mortgage crisis. Perhaps most important, The Ascent of Money documents how a new financial revolution is propelling the world’s biggest countries, India and China, from poverty to wealth in the space of a single generation—an economic transformation unprecedented in human history. Yet the central lesson of the financial history is that sooner or later every bubble bursts—sooner or later the bearish sellers outnumber the bullish buyers, sooner or later greed flips into fear. And that’s why, whether you’re scraping by or rolling in it, there’s never been a better time to understand the ascent of money.
The "Ascent of Money," a two-hour documentary based on the newly-released book, premiered on Tuesday, January 13 on PBS. The film was written and presented by the bestselling author, economist, historian, and Harvard professor Niall Ferguson. To watch the full program, go to PBS online.
Ferguson, Niall. 2008. “Team 'chimerica'”. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Future historians, I suspect, will look back on Saturday's anticlimactic G-20 gathering in Washington less as Bretton Woods 2.0 and more as a rerun of the London Economic Conference of 1933. Back then, representatives of 66 nations completely failed to agree on a concerted international response to the Great Depression. The fault lay mainly with the newly elected U.S. president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who vetoed European proposals for currency stabilization.This time around, it wasn't the newly elected Democrat but the outgoing Republican who wielded the veto. Even before his counterparts reached Washington, President Bush made it clear that recent events had done nothing to diminish his faith in free markets and minimalist regulation. Over the weekend, it was the United States that resisted European calls for a new international regulatory body, opposed significant redefinition of the International Monetary Fund's role and showed no interest in the idea of a global stimulus package.A real opportunity has been missed. Just as happened in the 1930s, what began as an American banking panic has now escalated into a global economic crisis. And just as happened in the 1930s, a lack of international coordination has the potential to turn a recession into a deep and protracted depression.The problem that seems scarcely to have been discussed over the weekend is that each national government is currently responding to the crisis with its own monetary and fiscal measures. Some central banks have already slashed official rates to close to zero. Some treasuries have already launched multibillion-dollar bailouts and stimulus packages. The devil lies in the different timing and magnitudes of these measures. The absence of coordination makes it almost inevitable that we will see rising volatility in global foreign exchange and bond markets, as investors react to each fresh national initiative. The results could be nearly as disruptive as the protectionist measures adopted by national governments during the Depression. Now, as then, a policy of "every man for himself" would be lethal.At the heart of this crisis is the huge imbalance between the United States, with its current account deficit in excess of 1 percent of world gross domestic product, and the surplus countries that finance it: the oil exporters, Japan and emerging Asia. Of these, the relationship between China and America has become the crucial one. More than anything else, it has been China's strategy of dollar reserve accumulation that has financed America's debt habit. Chinese savings were a key reason U.S. long-term interest rates stayed low and the borrowing binge kept going. Now that the age of leverage is over, "Chimerica"— the partnership between the big saver and the big spender—is key.In essence, we need the Chinese to be supportive of U.S. monetary easing and fiscal stimulus by doing more of the same themselves. There needs to be agreement on a gradual reduction of the Chimerican imbalance via increased U.S. exports and increased Chinese imports. The alternative—a sudden reduction of the imbalance via lower U.S. imports and lower Chinese exports— would be horrible.There also needs to be an agreement to avoid a rout in the dollar market and the bond market, which is what will happen if the Chinese stop buying U.S. government bonds, the amount of which is now set to increase massively.The alternative to such a Chimerican deal is for the Chinese to turn inward, devoting their energies to "market socialism in one country," increasing the domestic consumption of Chinese products and turning away from trade as the engine of growth.Memo to President-elect Barack Obama: Don't wait until April for the next G-20 summit. Call a meeting of the Chimerican G-2 for the day after your inaugural. Don't wait for China to call its own meeting of a new "G-1" in Beijing.Niall Ferguson is a faculty associate of the Weatherhead Center; Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History, Department of History; and William Ziegler Professor of Business Administration, Business, Government, and the International Economy Unit, Harvard Business School.
Varshney, Ashutosh, and Daniel Herwitz. 2008. Midnight's Diaspora: Critical Encounters with Salman Rushdie. University of Michigan Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Almost twenty years after the Ayatollah Khomeini declared a fatwa against him, Salman Rushdie remains the most controversial and perhaps the most famous living novelist. Far more than an acclaimed author, Rushdie is a global figure whose work is read and studied by a wide variety of constituencies, many of whom are not primarily concerned with its literary significance.This important collection of essays and interviews brings together a distinguished group of critics and commentators, including Rushdie himself, to explore the political and cultural contexts of Rushdie's novels. While each of the essays offers a distinct and often highly original take on Rushdie and his work, the two substantial interviews with Rushdie illuminate his thoughts on a series of literary and political subjects that he has for the most part been reluctant to discuss in public. This combination of fresh perspectives and historical and political context will appeal to a wide array of readers interested not only in Rushdie's own work but also in the many collateral cultural and political issues it raises.
Lamont, Michèle, and Bruno Cousin. 2008. “Les Conditions De L’Évaluation Universitaire”.Abstract
La question de l’évaluation professionnelle des enseignants-chercheurs est au cœur du mouvement qui, depuis trois mois et demi, les oppose quasi unanimement au gouvernement français. Ils ont entendu Nicolas Sarkozy leur reprocher de ne jamais voir leur travail évalué, alors que c’est aujourd’hui le cas à chaque étape de leur carrière, chaque fois qu’ils sollicitent le financement d’un projet et chaque fois qu’ils soumettent un article à une revue scientifique. D’autre part, on leur rebat que le « classement de Shanghai » mesure les performances d’ensemble du système de recherche français, alors même qu’il ignore par construction une grande partie de sa production (effectuée au sein du CNRS) et qu’il s’agit d’un palmarès peu valorisé à l’étranger. Le point crucial de la controverse concerne néanmoins le type et les modalités d’évaluation individuelle auxquels il est souhaitable de soumettre les enseignants-chercheurs au long de leur parcours professionnel. De nombreuses interventions publiques ont déjà souligné qu’une évaluation collégiale, indépendante, approfondie et qualitative, par des spécialistes du domaine concerné, était une condition nécessaire pour recruter et distinguer de bons chercheurs. Ce n’est pas un hasard si c’est la façon de faire courante dans la plupart des pays européens, ainsi qu’en Amérique du Nord. En France aussi, jusqu’en 2008, les enseignants-chercheurs étaient sélectionnés exclusivement par leurs (futurs) collègues : d’abord par une section du Conseil National des Universités propre à chaque discipline, puis par une commission de spécialistes de cette même discipline propre à chaque établissement. Le système français comportait néanmoins et comporte toujours de nombreux défauts nuisant trop souvent à son efficacité (et à sa justice), notamment au moment de la première embauche : récurrence du clientélisme local, auditions-éclairs des candidats, manque de transparence des délibérations, pénurie chronique de postes à pourvoir alors que l’Université est déjà en sous-effectifs, attractivité limitée par des conditions de travail dégradées et des salaires peu compétitifs à l’international (y compris en Europe). Pourtant, la vaste « réforme » entreprise depuis deux ans sous l’égide de la loi LRU, ne s’attaque véritablement à aucun de ces problèmes cruellement ressentis par les enseignants-chercheurs. Au lieu de quoi, elle prétend réformer leurs carrières en soumettant les recrutements et promotions à des comités de sélection ad hoc, qui peuvent être largement interdisciplinaires, passibles du véto du président d’établissement, et en conférant à ce dernier le pouvoir de moduler à la hausse le service d’enseignement des universitaires qui seraient identifiés (par qui ? comment ?) comme des chercheurs peu performants. Cette perspective managériale est-elle envisageable ? Est-elle compatible avec le principe de l’évaluation par les pairs (qui veut que le « bon mathématicien » soit désigné comme tel par ses collègues mathématiciens, et le « bon historien » par les autres historiens) ? Pourrait-elle avoir des effets vertueux sur les universités françaises ?Le livre que l’une d’entre nous vient de publier apporte de nombreux éléments de réponse à ces questions. À partir de l’étude empirique du monde académique américain, où des commissions scientifiques interdisciplinaires et encadrées par un « program officer » attribuent les prestigieuses bourses de recherche qui jalonnent une carrière universitaire réussie, il met en évidence les conditions de possibilité d’un dispositif d’évaluation semblable – par certains aspects – à celui qui est en train de voir le jour en France. Mais aussi les écueils qu’il devrait absolument éviter… Même en se limitant aux sciences humaines, économiques et sociales, les conceptions de l’excellence scientifique et les critères de son évaluation divergent nettement d’une discipline à l’autre. La nouveauté, le caractère généralisable et la virtuosité d’une recherche pèsent différemment et n’ont pas le même sens selon les domaines ; les divers modes de validation d’une connaissance et d’administration de la preuve (par déduction, par induction ou par interprétation) y sont plus ou moins bien acceptés ; et l’idée même de commensurabilité au sein d’une discipline n’est pas partagée par l’ensemble de celles-ci. Enfin, l’innovation – cette mesure utilitariste de la recherche à l’aune des avantages compétitifs qu’elle génère sur les marchés – n’apparaît que marginalement comme une marque de qualité scientifique telle que l’entendent les chercheurs de ces disciplines. L’évaluation ne peut donc s’exercer au sein de ces commissions interdisciplinaires qu’à travers le respect de plusieurs principes fondamentaux : l’indépendance professionnelle de la recherche, qui se fixe elle-même ses objectifs ; la reconnaissance de l’expertise de chacun dans son domaine de compétence ; la croyance de ceux qui jugent en la mission de sélection méritocratique qui leur est confiée. Or, ce fonctionnement est le fruit d’une culture académique relativement confiante dans ses valeurs partagées et consciente des enjeux auxquels elle fait face, mais aussi de normes coutumières, d’ajustements progressifs et d’apprentissages en situation concernant la façon la plus efficace et équitable d’interagir au sein des comités. Par rapport à une sélection automatisée par l’usage seul d’instruments comme les décomptes bibliométriques (qu’il est aisé de manipuler [10]), la délibération apparaît comme un processus décisionnel plus complet et plus juste, parce qu’elle conduit à l’explicitation, à la transparence et à une pondération réfléchie des critères utilisés. Mais les vertus du dispositif relèvent moins de la configuration de celui-ci que des bonnes habitudes et des valeurs qu’y insufflent ceux qui y prennent part ; or, ces dernières ne s’établissent pas par décret. Ainsi, dans le contexte américain, le rôle managérial des « program officers » est de stimuler le développement de mécanismes institutionnels vertueux, et de garantir la mise en œuvre effective de la collégialité et d’une évaluation par les pairs qui contrebalancent les inévitables idiosyncrasies de chacun. Il s’agit donc, malgré leur participation à la constitution initiale du jury, essentiellement d’un rôle de coordination et non de direction.Bien sûr, on ne saurait plaider ici pour l’adoption de modes d’évaluation qui seraient une copie conforme du cas étasunien. Celui-ci est composé de près de 3000 établissements dispersés à travers le pays, dont plusieurs centaines d’universités qui développent une activité de recherche plus ou moins intensive . Cette dispersion accroît le degré d’autonomie, d’anonymat et de non coordination des procédures d’évaluation qui se tiennent de part et d’autre ; tandis qu’en France, la taille comparativement limitée du monde académique rend plus denses et quasiment inévitables les liens d’interconnaissance. Par ailleurs, au delà de l’octroi des bourses individuelles de recherche dont les modalités sont présentées ci-dessus, l’ensemble de la carrière d’un-e universitaire américain-e se déroule dans un monde à la fois plus fluide (en termes de mobilité professionnelle) et hiérarchisé (en termes de classements de valeur) que ce n’est le cas en France. Dans ce contexte, des normes instititionnelles partagées (comme l’interdiction pour un département de recruter directement ses propres docteurs ou le poids des avis sollicités auprès d’experts extérieurs lors des procédures locales de titularisation), ainsi que des mécanismes concurrentiels interindividuels et inter-établissements, jouent un rôle central dans la légitimation réciproque du niveau des uns et des autres. Néanmoins, l’étude des pratiques d’évaluation et de gestion des carrières universitaires, telles qu’elles se déroulent Outre-Atlantique, mettent surtout en évidence combien la combinaison entre une délibération collégiale développée et la croyance en un idéal (et une norme) d’excellence académique présentent un caractère auto-réalisateur de cette dernière, ou créent du moins une tension constante dans sa direction. Ce tropisme n’est pas sans inconvénient : il suscite souvent un rapport enchanté à la réussite (d’autant plus marqué qu’il est partagé aux États-Unis par la majorité des autres secteurs professionnels), une absence de réflexivité à propos des ressorts de la légitimation en milieu académique, ainsi qu’une valorisation de l’équité supposée et des « gagnants » de la compétition universitaire, au détriment de considérations d’égalité entre ses participants. Mais, ce faisant, il empêche aussi la diffusion d’un scepticisme comme celui que l’on recueille auprès de nombreux enseignants-chercheurs français, qui nient la possibilité même que – dans l’état actuel des modalités d’évaluation – eux-mêmes ou leurs collègues (même les plus reconnus) puissent exprimer un jugement informé et désintéressé sur un candidat. Une des critiques récurrentes du système français tel qu’il existe aujourd’hui (particulièrement vive à propos du recrutement des maître-sse-s de conférence) est que la procédure de sélection ne se donne pas pour ce qu’elle est et qu’il ne s’agit pas, comme aux Etats-Unis, de « jouer le jeu » de la méritocratie et de l’excellence pour les faire ainsi advenir au mieux. Au contraire, la rapidité de la procédure formelle d’évaluation (2-3 semaines pour examiner plus d’une centaine de dossiers et pour lire les publications des auditionnés, et moins d’une demi-heure consacrée à chaque audition, alors même que l’on recrute potentiellement un-e collègue pour les trente-cinq années à venir) amène nombre de commissions de sélection à privilégier d’autres sources d’information pouvant confirmer les qualités de chercheur, informer sur les qualités d’enseignant, et garantir l’aménité de caractère du candidat ; voire à porter directement leur choix sur quelqu’un déjà connu localement, afin d’éviter toute mauvaise surprise. La justice procédurale de la sélection s’en trouve alors inévitablement compromise, au point que se développe parfois une forme de cynisme à l’égard des atteintes qui lui sont portées, laquelle augmente à son tour le risque de voir se multiplier ces dernières… En la matière, l’Université italienne – dont les établissements publics sont largement autonomes depuis 1999 – est un contre-modèle des plus notoires : elle s’est tellement enfoncée (et depuis si longtemps) dans ce cercle vicieux que la véhémence avec laquelle son fonctionnement ouvertement non méritocratique est dénoncé de temps en temps dans l’espace public n’a d’égal que le fatalisme avec lequel ses insiders (et aspirants tels) le reproduisent, et le volume des vagues d’exil vers l’étranger (notamment en France) qui en résultent.La comparaison avec le cas étasunien suggère par contraste que toute réforme du métier et des carrières des enseignants-chercheurs devrait commencer par se demander comment augmenter l’investissement des universitaires dans la justice du système d’évaluation par les pairs, ainsi que leur croyance en la possibilité de celle-ci. Certaines des mesures nécessaires à cet effet seraient gratuites et à effet immédiat (comme l’interdiction du localisme), mais d’autres devraient consister à limiter au possible la pénurie de moyens et la surcharge de travail administratif auxquelles sont confrontés la grande majorité des universitaires français. En effet, la collégialité se diffuse certainement d’autant mieux que les enseignants-chercheurs d’un département y disposent de bureaux et ne sont pas obligés de rester chez eux pour travailler… tandis que l’organisation d’auditions longues où un candidat multiplierait au cours d’une journée les rencontres et les présentations de son travail requiert des ressources matérielles destinées à cet effet, et que les enseignants-chercheurs puissent être libérés en échange d’un certain nombre de tâches administratives pour lesquelles leur expertise n’est pas nécessaire. L’autonomie et la collégialité académique ne sauraient donc se confondre avec une forme d’autogestion où les enseignants-chercheurs doivent assurer la quasi-totalité des tâches nécessaires au fonctionnement d’une organisation aussi complexe qu’une université. La présence de personnels de support technique et administratif (dont le nombre et les compétences pointues sont un atout des universités de recherche étasuniennes souvent sous-estimé), et d’un appareil de gestionnaires exécutifs veillant à la bonne tenue du budget et (éventuellement) du patrimoine de l’établissement, apparaît comme un pré-requis nécessaire si l’on souhaite que la liberté et l’indépendance des enseignants-chercheurs ne soient pas uniquement formelles. Il ne s’agit donc pas d’un paradoxe, mais de souligner que la réorganisation – nécessaire – des universités françaises ne pouvait faire l’économie d’un affrontement pour redessiner les périmètres de compétence et les prérogatives de chacun des métiers qui doivent se côtoyer au sein d’un établissement. Plus que de fournir des modèles à imiter ou des repoussoirs, la comparaison nous montre à ce propos que les conflits entre logiques managériales et collégiales peuvent se prolonger durant des années et sont faits de petits glissements stratégiques plus que de grandes victoires éclatantes (que l’on pense aux conflits feutrés entre l’administration et les universitaires de Sciences Po Paris, ou au cas américain de la New York University) ; ils peuvent contribuer à reproduire voire renforcer des féodalités antérieures (comme c’est trop souvent le cas en Italie), ou déboucher à l’inverse sur la disparition de départements de recherche entiers sous l’effet du New Public Management (comme ce fut le cas au Royaume-Uni durant les années 1980 et 1990). En France, la sauvegarde de la collégialité apparaît d’autant plus difficile que les universités occupent une position structurellement et conjoncturellement faible au sein de la société : secondes aux classes préparatoires et aux Grandes Écoles en termes de prestige de la formation (et sous-financées par rapport à celles-ci), elles voient désormais leur activité de recherche sous-estimée par les indicateurs internationaux, et font face à un gouvernement qui envisage l’autonomie des établissements essentiellement dans ses dimensions directoriales (avec un président d’université qui en serait aussi une sorte de directeur général) et gestionnaires (afin de diminuer ultérieurement, à terme, l’engagement de l’État dans cette branche de l’éducation supérieure). Portant, après la promulgation (probable) de tous les décrets d’application de la loi LRU, ce sera aux enseignants-chercheurs de chaque université « autonome » de s’organiser – et d’organiser les différents conseils et comités d’établissement – pour se donner les moyens de sauvegarder et d’améliorer la collégialité face aux risques de dérives managériales, clientélistes et/ou autocratiques. Le conflit, ainsi éparpillé au niveau local, sera peut-être moins spectaculaire, mais il est loin d’être terminé.
http://www.mouvements.info/Les-conditions-de-l-evaluation.html
Lavoie, Amy. 2008. “Rothschild Explores Economics’ Human Side”. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Blackmail and attempted murder are not typically studied as part of economic history. However, a credit crisis among 18th century French silk and brandy merchants led to just such dramatic incidents, the accounts of which piqued the interest of Emma Rothschild, a historian of economic life, empires, and Atlantic connections.Rothschild, Jeremy and Jane Knowles Professor of History in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), has recently come to Cambridge, Mass., from Cambridge, England, where she has worked to facilitate interaction among historians, economists, and scholars from other disciplines, while maintaining rigorous historical methods within her own research.Rothschild is the director of the newly formed Joint Center for History and Economics (JCHE). In Cambridge, England, she co-founded the Centre for History and Economics at King’s College in 1991, which encouraged conversation among scholars from varying disciplines at a time when the world was changing in profound ways. The JCHE will similarly encourage such scholarly inquiry at Harvard. When she learned of the events surrounding a credit crisis among silk and brandy merchants that occurred in a small French town in 1769, Rothschild was intrigued. The merchants, when threatened with bankruptcy, struck back by accusing their lenders of usury. The incident had hitherto been studied as a footnote in the history of lending, but Rothschild was gripped by the story, which involved not only accounts of lending and interest, but also blackmail and attempted murder. It helped shift Rothschild’s area of interest within the study of the history of economic life. "[This] was a story of people’s lives that could be described in other terms than, ‘Was the market rate of interest the same as the natural rate of interest?’ or ‘What were the consequences for the French economy?’ It had to do with their sentiments about the economy, and I thought that was very interesting," says Rothschild. "Everyone has economic experiences, and the way that we think about them changes."While she is now living full time in Cambridge, Mass., Rothschild was already quite familiar with the area. She first came to Cambridge in 1967 to study economics with a strong interest in economic history, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Later, from 1978 to 1988, she taught at MIT. She has been a part-time visiting professor at Harvard since 2004.Her marriage was also trans-Atlantic. She married Amartya Sen, Thomas W. Lamont University Professor, in 1991, and for a number of years the two commuted between the two Cambridges. The couple is now happy to be closer to Sen’s children, who live in the area. Rothschild’s most recent book is Economic Sentiments: Adam Smith, Condorcet and the Enlightenment (Harvard University Press, 2001). In her forthcoming book, The Inner Life of Empires, she traces the history of an 18th century Scottish family of seven brothers and four sisters called the Johnstones. The book is an expansion of a series of lectures that she gave in Princeton in 2006, as Tanner Lectures on Human Values.The Johnstone siblings were involved with the armed forces, politics, and the law, and they traveled widely—to Africa, North America, India, and the West Indies. Some were in the slave trade, to which others in the family were vehemently opposed. As they engaged in these activities, the family wrote letters, detailing their lives and their feelings about the changing world around them. They were also parties in a variety of legal disputes. Rothschild has been increasingly interested in the lives of the sisters, but as is often the case, information about women in the 18th century has been difficult to discover. "By centering on a particular family, I am trying to question the distinctions between the economic side of their life, the political side, and the legal side, because for them, they didn’t divide up events, and say, ‘This is an economic problem, and this is a legal problem.’ It becomes easier to think oneself into a world where these distinctions weren’t as clear," says Rothschild.The letters explored the moral implications of some of the family’s actions at a time when Britain was becoming an empire. In their own words, the brothers and their friends also made comparisons to other imperial regimes, including the Roman, Dutch, Mogul, and Portuguese empires. "The brothers and sisters wrote to each other over the course of half a century, and expressed deep differences of opinion. It intrigued me to think about how they observed the changes that were taking place in their worlds. The title refers as much to their interest in empires as my own," says Rothschild.Rothschild explains that the study of the history of economic life differs from the study of the history of economics. The former looks at the ways individuals have been affected by economic events, such as changes in property rights or debts and credit, while the latter concerns itself with the intellectual history of the discipline. Her own research has involved both areas.The JCHE is one of the first centers of its kind to take on such topics across both scholarly boundaries and geographical divides. Both faculty and graduate students often travel back and forth between the two institutions, and graduate students have been involved with the JCHE on both sides of the ocean.The centers have tackled many large-scale questions through a series of projects addressing economic and social security, environmental history, transnational exchanges of ideas, and the history of globalization. One such project, about which Rothschild is particularly excited, is "The Digitization of History," which explores the role of new technology in increasing access to historical sources and archives, and changing the way that historians are accessing visual, printed, and manuscript sources.Initiatives such as the Google books program have put a vast quantity of material online, she explains. The British National Archives have made available—and searchable—wills dating back to the 14th century, and shipping records of the port of Bordeaux, France, have been digitized and made available at no cost. The JCHE project also explores the technical challenges involved with digital preservation, and the increasing divide between the access to digital materials for wealthy, English-speaking institutions and those of developing countries."This is changing the ways that we do history and think about doing history, in respects that we don’t understand yet," Rothschild says. "It raises quite new questions, because one could find out details of lives of people in the past that couldn’t have been put together in the same way before."
Bates, Robert H, and Steven Block. 2008. “The Political Economy of Agricultural Trade Interventions in Africa”.Abstract
In this chapter, we explore patterns of variation in the content of agricultural policies in Africa. We look at the impact of the government’s need for revenues, the incentives for farmers to lobby, and their capacity to affect electoral outcomes. We also explore the political impact of regional inequality, especially insofar as it is generated by cash crop production. These factors operate in ways that deepen our appreciation of the impact of politics on the making of agricultural policies.
Sen, Amartya. 2008. “The Rich Get Hungrier”. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Will the food crisis that is menacing the lives of millions ease up—or grow worse over time? The answer may be both. The recent rise in food prices has largely been caused by temporary problems like drought in Australia, Ukraine and elsewhere. Though the need for huge rescue operations is urgent, the present acute crisis will eventually end. But underlying it is a basic problem that will only intensify unless we recognize it and try to remedy it. It is a tale of two peoples. In one version of the story, a country with a lot of poor people suddenly experiences fast economic expansion, but only half of the people share in the new prosperity. The favored ones spend a lot of their new income on food, and unless supply expands very quickly, prices shoot up. The rest of the poor now face higher food prices but no greater income, and begin to starve. Tragedies like this happen repeatedly in the world.A stark example is the Bengal famine of 1943, during the last days of the British rule in India. The poor who lived in cities experienced rapidly rising incomes, especially in Calcutta, where huge expenditures for the war against Japan caused a boom that quadrupled food prices. The rural poor faced these skyrocketing prices with little increase in income. Misdirected government policy worsened the division. The British rulers were determined to prevent urban discontent during the war, so the government bought food in the villages and sold it, heavily subsidized, in the cities, a move that increased rural food prices even further. Low earners in the villages starved. Two million to three million people died in that famine and its aftermath.Much discussion is rightly devoted to the division between haves and have-nots in the global economy, but the world’s poor are themselves divided between those who are experiencing high growth and those who are not. The rapid economic expansion in countries like China, India and Vietnam tends to sharply increase the demand for food. This is, of course, an excellent thing in itself, and if these countries could manage to reduce their unequal internal sharing of growth, even those left behind there would eat much better. But the same growth also puts pressure on global food markets—sometimes through increased imports, but also through restrictions or bans on exports to moderate the rise in food prices at home, as has happened recently in countries like India, China, Vietnam and Argentina. Those hit particularly hard have been the poor, especially in Africa.There is also a high-tech version of the tale of two peoples. Agricultural crops like corn and soybeans can be used for making ethanol for motor fuel. So the stomachs of the hungry must also compete with fuel tanks. Misdirected government policy plays a part here, too. In 2005, the United States Congress began to require widespread use of ethanol in motor fuels. This law combined with a subsidy for this use has created a flourishing corn market in the United States, but has also diverted agricultural resources from food to fuel. This makes it even harder for the hungry stomachs to compete.Ethanol use does little to prevent global warming and environmental deterioration, and clear-headed policy reforms could be urgently carried out, if American politics would permit it. Ethanol use could be curtailed, rather than being subsidized and enforced. The global food problem is not being caused by a falling trend in world production, or for that matter in food output per person (this is often asserted without much evidence). It is the result of accelerating demand. However, a demand-induced problem also calls for rapid expansion in food production, which can be done through more global cooperation. While population growth accounts for only a modest part of the growing demand for food, it can contribute to global warming, and long-term climate change can threaten agriculture. Happily, population growth is already slowing and there is overwhelming evidence that women’s empowerment (including expansion of schooling for girls) can rapidly reduce it even further.What is most challenging is to find effective policies to deal with the consequences of extremely asymmetric expansion of the global economy. Domestic economic reforms are badly needed in many slow-growth countries, but there is also a big need for more global cooperation and assistance. The first task is to understand the nature of the problem.Amartya Sen, is the Chair, Project on Justice, Welfare, and Economics, a Weatherhead Center Faculty Associate, and Thomas W. Lamont University Professor, Department of Economics, Harvard University.
Amartya Sen received the Nobel Prize in economics in 1998.
Rodrik, Dani. 2008. “The New Development Economics: We Shall Experiment, but How Shall We Learn?”.Abstract
Development economics has long been split between macro-development economists—who focus on economic growth, international trade, and fiscal/macro policies—and microdevelopment economists—who study microfinance, education, health, and other social programs. Even though the central question that animates both sets of economists ostensibly is how to achieve sustainable improvements in living standards in poor countries, the concerns and methods of these two camps have at times diverged so much that they seem at opposite extremes of the economics discipline. I shall argue in this paper that there are some good reasons to be optimistic about the reunification of the field, as these sharp distinctions are eroding in some key respects. But there are also some reasons for pessimism, related to divergence in empirical methods. This paper covers both the good and the bad news.
for Affairs, Weatherhead Center International. 2008. “Weatherhead Center Awards Doctoral Candidates with Research Grants”.Abstract
The Weatherhead Center for International Affairs has selected eleven Harvard doctoral candidates to receive pre- and mid-dissertation grants to conduct research on a project related to the core research interests of the Center. In addition and for the first time in 2008, the Center is awarding foreign language grants to doctoral students to assist them in their field research studies. The Weatherhead Center dissertation grant recipients, along with their research projects, are listed below: Christopher Bail, Ph.D. candidate in sociology, is researching the distortion of collective memory among Muslims and non-Muslims in the United States and the UK.Amy Catalinac, Ph.D. candidate in government, is conducting research on the electoral politics of national security to explain the contemporary rise of Japan.Suzanna Chapman, Ph.D. candidate in government, will conduct interviews with immigration policy-makers to examine how states select their population.Paul Cruikshank, Ph.D. candidate in the history of science, is investigating the late twentieth century historical transformation of the politics in the field of international health.Michael James Esdaile, Ph.D. candidate in history and Middle Eastern studies, is studying Arabic for his dissertation on the anti-imperial movements termed the “Aden Emergency” that opposed British control in Yemen. Alex Fattal, Ph.D. candidate in anthropology, is conducting an analysis of the demobilization of insurgents in Colombia to better understand the cultural politics of humanitarianism.Meghan Healy, Ph.D. candidate in history, is conducting research on South African women’s schooling and power since 1869. Max Hirsch, Ph.D. candidate in architecture and urban planning, is researching architectural and urban planning strategies that are designed to attract and retain highly skilled international migrants in Frankfurt and Hong Kong.Jane Hong, Ph.D. candidate in history, is examining political deportation cases of foreign-born Asian communists living in Los Angeles as a lens to explore the relationship between U.S. foreign policy in East Asia and domestic security measures passed between 1945 and 1965.Catherine Kelly, Ph.D. candidate in government, is studying Wolof in Senegal for her dissertation on Franco-West African relations.Katherine Mason, Ph.D. candidate in anthropology, is conducting an ethnographic investigation of the rebuilding of China’s disease control system in the wake of the 2003 SARS epidemic. Sreemati Mitter, Ph.D. candidate in history and Middle Eastern studies, is studying Arabic and Hebrew for her dissertation on relations between Jordan and Israel between 1950 and 1967.Vipin Narang, Ph.D. candidate in government, is exploring the sources and consequences of regional power nuclear postures by examining the India-Pakistan crises that occurred both before and after nuclearization.Rebecca Nelson, Ph.D. candidate in government, seeks to explain why some governments get more debt restructurings with private creditors than others.Aleksandar Sopov, Ph.D. candidate in history and Middle Eastern studies, will study Arabic and Albanian for his dissertation on how the competing histories of the peoples in the Balkans and the Middle East influence their social and political realities.