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Lilly Grella
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I tend to be on the optimistic side of things when it comes to global warming and climate change. I am hopeful that we, as a global society, will take advantage of new technologies and the push for innovation to ultimately do what the article hopes, and stay below the 4 degree warming level. The authors of the paper seem to be convinced that it is feasible to hold warming down. In the paper they refer to studies that show that there are technical and economic methods in minimizing emissions (and thus warming) below 2%. However, in February of this year the global average temperatures passed the 1.5 degree Celsius and most of the northern hemisphere is experiencing temperatures above the 2-degree mark. It was assumed that as we neared the mark of no return, global society would be scared into doing something. However, it does not seem like we are closer to accomplishing anything than we were in 2012. Even further, just today Donald Trump announced Scott Pruitt to run the EPA. You would think the person running the ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY would support environmental protection like clean air, clean energy, etc. Rather Pruitt is a close ally of the fossil fuel industry and has been strongly against Obama’s climate change policies. Recently, he has written about how global warming is continued to be discussed by scientists. I honestly can’t even imagine the idea of a fossil fuel industry advocate and a climate change denier running the EPA. But that is where we are. The changes to the world are real and we see that through the executive summary paper. With action, it is believed the warming world can be stopped, or at least held steady. With this being said, I don’t know if I have faith action will come about fast enough. That is the scariest thing of all.
Obviously, this research paper does not find out much specifically in regards to the relationship between poverty and trade liberalization. The debate continues on how much impoverished individuals truly gain from trade openness. The paper reveals the two sides to the argument. On one hand, poor people share in the gains from international trade; while on the other hand, the benefits are not adequately received by those below the poverty line. The important conclusion they come away with is that it depends on the county’s political and financial environment as to whether the effect of openness of trade is positive or negative on poverty. This course as a whole has stressed to me one important fact that I think is oftentimes overlooked. Poverty alleviation and the methods to achieving it, from a personal to a national level, depends entirely on the situation. Each person or country’s experience of poverty is an extremely unique situation and ways of solving it depend upon these situations. There is no cure all; A panacea does not exist. Le Goff realizes this and acknowledges the fact that this is most likely the cause to why ambiguity exists between poverty and trade liberalization. While it is assumed that freer trade is an important piece in the country’s development, it is even more important to understand that not all countries will find it a useful component. Le Goff recognizes that the status of the country’s institutions, financial sector, and human capital affect the influence of openness of trade on poverty. This research paper really illuminated the concept we’ve been touching on all semester as it is extremely important to dig into the details rather than assume a stereotype of how the impoverished situation will react to different development strategies.
Toggle Commented Dec 1, 2016 on Reading for Thursday at Jolly Green General
After reading the introduction to the article on microfinance, I realized just how little thought I had given the subject. After learning about this financial institution in poverty 101 and then again in intro economics courses, I assumed it was a surefire way of achieving some form of poverty alleviation and economic development. Like seriously, the pioneer of microcredit/finance won a Nobel Peace Prize for its creation. That alone was reason enough for me to brush off the topic for the time being. But you know what they say about people who assume things… it makes an ass out of u and me. The findings in this paper articulated just how over hyped the microfinance institution is today. People assume, just as I did, that microcredit does what it is said to do: transform lives and spur economic development. Unfortunately, after reading this article I feel more as though this belief in itself has undermined the potential achievement these sorts of financial institutions have. We often hear the powerful anecdotes of the (oftentimes) women who take out a microloan and are able to begin a business and hire more women shortly after. While it is obvious that that these stories are filled with intense emotion, the article points out this kind of story is only one type of situation microfinance touches. The article stresses the importance of understanding just how unique each situation is. Only when this is understood will microfinance be able to move in a more encompassing direction. The shift from one size fits all to an individualized technique allows for microfinance to expand towards its full potential through increasing its reliability and flexibility towards aiding people.
Toggle Commented Nov 15, 2016 on Readings for this week at Jolly Green General
At the economic valuation conference on Saturday, Sahotra Sarkar in his talk spoke on the issue of Malaria and mosquito exposure. His talk supported just about all of what the Nature article, but he focused on new technologies that can reduce malaria’s presence, specifically on one called Gene Drive. They are able to genetically alter the female chromosomes in order to push specific traits to the next generation of the animal. In the case of mosquitos, they alter one X chromosome to force the next generation to be more likely a female and the other X chromosome to resist malaria causing parasites. Over the short run, the entire species will be more likely female and less malaria infected mosquitos. According to Sarkar, in little over a year mosquitos can be entirely wiped out. On one hand it seems like this would be a huge benefit to the people of the world. The Nature article would apparently agree as it analyzes the huge impacts malaria has on poverty stricken nations and people experiencing poverty. Even though it is true this may alleviate some issues, I am skeptical as to whether this measure to combatting malaria should take place ethically. While the gene drive researchers claim there will be no negative effects on any other species, I still have unanswered questions. If it is successful with mosquitos, would there be anything stopping the scientists from manipulating other species in the same manner? Even further, who gets to determine which species gets to say and which must go? There are organizations (like the National Wildlife Fund or the World Wildlife Fund) that work to stop exactly what this technology is there to do. It seems as though on the surface this new technology can be useful to solve some of the issues mentioned in the Nature article, but I am skeptical to whether it should actually be implemented.
Toggle Commented Nov 2, 2016 on Readings for Thursday at Jolly Green General
Duflo discusses the relationship between women empowerment and economic development ultimately hoping to understand the interrelationship of the two important issues. It is seemingly obvious that they are closely related, and Duflo immediately recognizes this. Rather than focusing on the interrelatedness of the two, she investigates the two directions the tie between the two issues can run. The first one connection she examines is that economic development leads to women empowerment. She proposes that economic development in itself cannot guarantee total improvement for women. Recently in Professor Goldsmith’s class, we spoke about self-esteem and its impact on productivity. If a person feels helpless or has increased self-doubt, they are less likely to work at their most productive level, which in turn reduces the aggregate production of the society. Even if economic development affords women more opportunities, the stigma against women and their ability may remain. In this case, women are still negatively impacted. Duflo recognizes the weakness of putting economic development first and proposes that through policy measures that benefit women, equality is possible.
Toggle Commented Oct 19, 2016 on Reading for Thursday at Jolly Green General
From Rodrik’s piece, there are two main points he hopes to drive home in the reader that really stood out to me. First, he attacks the “one size fits all” idea of development, and then addresses the important concept that igniting and sustaining growth are two entirely different situations and must be analyzed through different perspectives. His use of thought experiments is extremely helpful in following his perspective of the issue. At one point he asks the reader to imagine a Western economist advising China on reform. After he runs through what he believes the Western economist would propose and the plausibility of it, he claims it might actually not be the best way of achieving development and reform in China. He knows this due to the fact that China actually took a very different approach than the one the Western economist would most likely propose. This goes back to the idea that economic policy is not a one size fits all idea. It is important to take into consideration the past and the current situation along with addressing the location in order to best propose policy for the future. Growth strategy, therefore, is flexible. It is important for people to recognize that conventional growth strategy is not always the way to go. Success is possible through other methods. Ultimately, Rodrik accepts the fact that there are many variables that must be taken into account before choosing a path towards growth and development, but acknowledges the similarities between the methods. The second idea he stresses is of the two-pronged growth strategy. The first being investment to ignite the growth and then formation of high quality, strong institutions as a sustaining measure. He recognizes the government’s role in reinforcing the growth begun by investment. Even though he acknowledges at first government and institutions are much less important than the policy in place, in the long run there is not much sustained growth without sustainable institutions.
Toggle Commented Oct 5, 2016 on Reading for Thursday at Jolly Green General
Oftentimes in economics courses, professors will stress the idea that the models are purely a simplistic representation of the world. Despite the untrue assumptions associated with modeling, they are extremely important to the field of economics. Krugman spends a lot of this article being his standard cheeky, bold self as he speaks on the progression of economics and the influence models have on it. He criticizes Hirschman for his lack of acknowledging the importance of empirical proof and modeling, but he applauds the concepts. His problem is mainly with the methodology. As a thesis he sets the paper up to address this issue of methodology within development economics (and economics as a wider field). Krugman combines what he believes is to be two drastically different but similarly lacking methods of modeling. I find it extremely easy to agree that this is a successful compromise. On one side, there are the models from around the 1950s, which are too focused on formalities (thus many things are overlooked). He uses the Africa mapmaking as a metaphor for the lost knowledge that comes from the strict modeling. Hirschman’s method, on the other side, surrounds a lack of modeling and involves too much of a focus on abstract ideas. The solution is to create “silly models that illustrate key concepts”. Krugman recognizes that models are just that: models. Too much complexity and it makes understanding and further knowledge difficult. Lack of models turns something with academic and research practicality to a solely verbal argument. This loses some of its standing in the field. Thus, the middle ground seems to be a solution to each problem. Ultimately, I think Krugman acknowledges the importance of understanding economics as a field that is dynamic and adaptable to the times. Models have the ability to show advancement, as they are open to change themselves. He ends his paper recognizing that in efforts to make sense of the world, there will be times where we overlook important facts or remain ignorant to key information. It is important to remember that this is all related to the ebb and flow of economics.
The ideas Sen puts forward regarding development is obviously one that resonates with economic academia as his revolutionary contribution to development economics is unmatched, even almost 20 years after receiving the Nobel Prize and publishing this book. In the first two chapters and the introduction of Development as Freedom, one of the most important concepts he puts forward is the constant endogeneity problem between variables at play. Especially in the second chapter he recognizes that these freedoms are both ways to further development but also something that comes about because of advancement. He says, “freedoms directly enhance the capabilities of people, but they also supplement one another and can furthermore reinforce one another”(40). In my econometrics class, endogeneity was seen as an assumption violation and a problem for the regression that needed to be fixed or addressed at least (even though it was oftentimes unavoidable). However, I, along with Sen and many others, do not see this as a bad thing, especially when talking about development economics. This loop of simultaneous causality provides more methods of advancement and more entrance points for addressing unfreedoms. The fact that they are interconnected does nothing but reinforce his approach that expansion of freedom is both the end and the means of development. After reading just the few pages assigned, it became clear the extent to which the institutional freedoms he mentions (political freedoms, economic facilities, social opportunities, transparency guarantees, and protective security) are linked together as both a method to achieve development and as a goal to judge development upon. Even further it is necessary to acknowledge the interconnectedness between the specific freedoms and each other. The variables are linked in so many ways, and it ultimately reinforces the importance of freedoms as a method of achieving agency and a method to understanding development.
Two years ago when I first read this piece by Banerjee and Duflo, I was stuck on the idea that those people experiencing extreme poverty are spending less than 70%(and in some cases significantly less than 70%) of their income on food. Even further, they oftentimes buy items with a low calorie to dollar ratio. At first glance, it seems silly to skip a meal to be able to afford festivals, weddings, and other forms of entertainment. But it is important to step back and realize that there is an aspect to humanity that comes with things other than food. The happiness and the ability to be content with life are just as important as physical wellbeing. It is true that most of the people surveyed were underweight according to the BMI scale, but the ability to have a TV or a wedding allows them to connect with their own humanity and other human beings. As I read this piece for a second time rather than being drawn to the spending habits solely, I immediately took note of just how multifaceted the economic lives of the poor are in general. There was never a specific answer or a simple response to the issue of extreme poverty. The complexity of the issue and the steps to go through to just begin understanding the forces at play in the lives of the individuals experiencing extreme poverty are overwhelming. It seems as though this paper is just the beginning of the investigation into the economic lives of the poor.
Toggle Commented Sep 14, 2016 on ECON 280 Reading for Thursday at Jolly Green General
Beyond the big businesses and ideologies against the carbon tax, it seems only right that one would be in place. As the RFF article goes into detail about the pros and cons of the carbon tax and cap and trade policies, it expresses just how necessary and manageable an adoption of a carbon tax is. It just makes sense. It proves to me the question is not whether or not there should be a carbon tax, the real question is when one will be put in place. Worsening climate change and issues arising due to that, has brought with it very clear instructions: we must reduce carbon based energy. A carbon tax seems so straightforward. Unlike cap and trade, a carbon tax would create no new markets; it just creates a price signal that would ultimately spur more innovation and increased clean energy usage. I am very hopeful in regards to the carbon tax; however, I am still skeptical as to its ultimate impact on global warming.
Toggle Commented Mar 30, 2016 on ECON 255 for next Thursday at Jolly Green General
Each of the three articles seemed to hold the same tone regarding the status of Earth and climate change. Each reveals a few solutions to the rising CO2 levels, but alerts the reader to the fact that things will have to change in big ways to succeed in reversing the affects of burning large amounts of fossil fuels. I appreciated the emphasis placed on the fact that there are feasible solutions, even though some of them are difficult or costly to enact. The authors made it obvious that there is no silver bullet. There is no one solution that will mitigate all the problems associated with global warming. The scope of the problem is enormous and relies on both a bottom up and a top down solution. On one hand, local level actions can do some good, but it is necessary for the countries to interact with each other to come up with a plan going into the future. Without being too pessimistic, these articles make it seem as though we are too far-gone; despite this, efforts to reduce greenhouse gases should not stop. Hopefully smaller successes will lead to larger ones.
Toggle Commented Mar 16, 2016 on ECON 255 for next Thursday at Jolly Green General
As many people have said before me, it is shocking that there is a large group of people supporting and actively working to maintain biodiversity while we are still losing so many species. It seems to be one of those things that people acknowledge but when thinking of conservation, most think of the three Rs, reduce reuse recycle. While those obviously can help decrease the biodiversity loss, it is not necessarily the most effective way. Some things we can do are protect more areas, prevent species introductions, and promote and educate citizens on the importance of biodiversity and environmental health. It is scary to think that if we continue in the way we are headed, there will be so many animals that we may never see again. Loss of species will continue unless drastic measures are taken. I think it is very important and exciting that the UN added sustainability into their millennium goals and as of 2015 they have even added biodiversity as its own goal. While this is a great thing and a great step in curbing biodiversity loss, more must be done. We need to make biodiversity loss and human-caused extinction a thing of the past. We can’t be lackadaisical about this issue any longer.
Toggle Commented Mar 2, 2016 on ECON 255 for Thursday at Jolly Green General
Just as many before me have pointed out, the paper turned out exactly how I expected. Divers were willing to pay a bit more per dive to preserve the experience of the dive. It just makes sense. It was interesting to see the calculation and experimentation processes used to come up with a value to this preservation, and to understand where the final answer with a monetary value came from. Now that I know from the study that divers would be willing to pay an extra $20-$57, what can I do with that knowledge and those numbers? Can non-market valuation actually be implemented and ultimately save the coral reefs and increase biodiversity in the Caribbean and beyond? I definitely didn’t expect this purely experiment based paper to answer these questions, they are very involved questions and this is a very mathematical and scientific piece. However, I ended this paper feeling uncomfortable with the knowledge gained. The authors conclude saying we can enact the findings: increase the diver fees. Is it really this easy? I really hope people/policy makers are responsive to studies like this that hold vital information oftentimes unavailable. I will leave with this question: has anything come of this study over the past three years and if not, are there any successful stories of non market valuation achieving greatness?
Toggle Commented Feb 4, 2016 on ECON 255 for next Thursday at Jolly Green General
As I began reading the Tragedy of the Commons article, I assumed it would be something similar to the many other Tragedy of the Commons articles I have read, referencing the overfishing and overgrazing yet producing no good solution. But I ran across this quote and got very intrigued by the article. Hardin in the section, What shall we maximize?, says: “A finite world can support only a finite population; therefore, population growth must eventually equal zero”. This quote seems understandable and seemingly predictable, but as I continued with the reading I realized this goes completely against the common idea of exponential population growth. Malthus provides a solution: eating children. Obviously this is not the route we wish to take once the exponential growth becomes too much, but something must be done. As Hardin references, the trade off between population and quality of life must stay in the right direction. Quality of life should not be minimized. Thus we come to the conclusion that there has to be some form of population moderation. There are two main options: command and control and economic incentive. Command and control, the more blunt of the two, has been in place in China with the one child policy and even though this has decreased the population substantially there are so many unintended consequences that seems to harm more than less. On the other hand, an economic incentive seems to be a choice that may work. To delve into the type of economic incentive to put in place, one very important piece of information must be taken into consideration. People’s motivations to have children are not the same everywhere and in every situation. They differ by gender, economic circumstances, culture, and age, among many other factors. The solution thus cannot be one-size-fits-all; rather it must cater to a wide variety of thoughts and tastes when it comes to childbearing.
Toggle Commented Jan 21, 2016 on ECON 255 for Friday at Jolly Green General
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Jan 21, 2016