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Ben Barbour
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I thought that this paper was incredibly interesting. Microcredit seems like it benefited a lot in certain areas and did not have many significant effects in other areas. I found this to be interesting, and perhaps thought it might be the size of the loan. The loans to South Africa were relatively small at $127, but showed increases in food consumption, income, and other factors of wellbeing. This is interesting because it shows that the loans are enough in the other countries, and it might be other outside factors effecting possible gains from microcredits. There are other examples in the paper about differing effects of microcredit. Its interesting how something meant to help can have really diverse aftereffects. In West Bengal, they created two groups, one that pays back the loans in a traditional way, and one that has a 2-month grace period. While the grace period performed better overall, they still had average results due to some incurring big losses. This was one of the most interesting stories in the paper, it really emphasizes how different attitudes towards saving, investment, and well-being can affect the future. It also may be a factor of luck, so those that took a loss may not necessarily have bad habits. Overall, I thought that the paper provided a lot of interesting information on microcredits and microinsurance, but it also showed further evidence that there is no silver bullet to solving the problems of poverty. We cannot just throw money at problems and expect them to be solved.
I thought this paper was a lot more confusing and in depth with financial markets than most others we have read. It used terms that I have not though about in a long time, as well as little explanation into a lot of what they talked about. An example of this is talking about how a rise in interest rates led to the “Tequila Crisis,” but I don’t know much about the Tequila Crisis. However, I do believe that the findings of the paper are as important as other findings we read about in class. One thing that I thought seemed interesting about the paper is the state of US markets has such an effect on foreign countries. The first conclusion of the paper was that global credit conditions have an impact on developing countries debt, which is heavily influenced by the US. I can understand how this makes sense, since a lot of countries view the dollar as sort of a global currency and will be heavily affected by our decisions, interest rates, and other aspects of our economy. I particularly thought this is interesting because areas with poor credit risk will drop out when US interest rates increase, which makes complete sense. I would be more inclined to invest and save when interest rates are high in the US market, where I know, I am going to get my money back, while being more averse to the volatile areas like Latin America. However, the opposite is also true, where if interest rates in countries like the US fall (which they have in recent years), then looking to emerging markets may result in a better outcome. I thought this paper could have done better in some areas of wording or making it easier to read for somebody who may not be well educated in banking, but it did have good findings that help explain the effects on other parts of the world when money centers have changes.
Toggle Commented Nov 18, 2021 on ... at Jolly Green General
The paper by Psacharopoulos and Patrinos has a lot of correlations with the topics that we talk about in class. Namely, the finding that women's education has higher returns than men’s and that we should aim to give priority to the education of girls. This has been a common talk in class and seems to be well known about in the economics world. Womens education has helped countries, like South Korea, and should continue being talked about until other countries realize how important it is for economic development. Besides this and the other findings related to education and rates of return, I was more interested in the short section on Chile and Colombia. They mentioned the voucher system in 1981 but did not talk about how Chile essentially has free public college nowadays. This is important to the paper because free education, while increasing absolute incomes for most people, does increase inequality often. Because education is free for some schools, those that are richer and receive better elementary and secondary education are more likely to apply and get into the free schools, leaving less for the poor. This relates a lot to one of the conclusions of the paper, which is that resources should be given to primary schools if the country has not reached a universal level of it because investing only in colleges could lead to more inequality instead of the outcomes the country may want. Generally, the paper's thoughts on education and the returns from it were fascinating, and it is cool that primary education has higher private and social returns than secondary or higher education, especially for social returns in poor countries.
Toggle Commented Nov 11, 2021 on For Friday's Discussion at Jolly Green General
I thought this paper was really well written and went over some aspects of women and development that I had not thought of before. In addition, this paper has a lot of studies that are related to other aspects of our class. For example, in the South Korean paper we read earlier, it was stated that empowering and investing in women helped a lot for their development. It also followed the idea of inequality where even if both men and women can receive greater outcomes by investing in human capital, the gap of inequality can remain the same. I think I agree with the author in his conclusion that neither women's empowerment or economic development are the magic bullets, since there are no magic bullets for development in any form. However, I think that some steps can be taken to decrease the amount of inequality that has persisted for so many years. Generally, the authors did a great job finding different studies and areas, and although using to many regressions and studies can cloud a paper, they did a great job explaining each thoroughly before moving onto their next point. It is a bit depressing that inequality persists, especially the abortion statistics in India and China, but I think that with the right policies there could be a change for the better.
Toggle Commented Oct 28, 2021 on For Friday's Discussion at Jolly Green General
I thought this article was interesting and provided a lot of information about climate change that I had not heard about before. One of the more interesting parts of this information is the huge gap between 2°C and 4°C. When I first was reading the paper, I asked myself if just 2°C is that much and causes so many issues, but after I finished, I more fully understand just how important a small number can be when it comes to the climate. The map that displays amounts of water discharge if we hit 2°C and then if we hit 4°C was one of the charts that made me realize the importance. However, even though most places show a drastic change between the two temperatures, I was a bit surprised as a few places not really changing, such as the Sahara Desert. Besides my realization of the impact two degrees can have while reading this paper, I also found the parts on fisheries interesting, and a little depressing. It seems a bit sad that coral reefs are dying at such an alarming rate, and that many won't even live to two degrees Celsius. But it was also really interesting how it can impact fisheries so much since the fish leave the fishery areas for colder waters. If fishery production lessens over time, it could have huge negative implications as it provides so many countries with protein they may not get otherwise. Overall, the paper did a great job with giving us concrete facts that make the reader think about the future of the earth and how catastrophic many of the statistics mentioned would affect us. There is too much great information in the paper to go over all of it, but I think the fisheries is an important one to focus on since it is the largest source of protein in the world.
Toggle Commented Oct 21, 2021 on For Friday's Discussion at Jolly Green General
I found this paper to be the most interesting out of all the papers previously read in this course. I knew that South Korea was one of the four Asian tigers and experienced huge economic growth in the latter half of the 20th century, but I was ignorant of how it was accomplished. Out of all the topics talked about in the paper, I still find it interesting that the chaebols were mainly family run and included mostly friends and family in the top ranks. I think this is interesting because of how many fell in and out of the top 100 list, meaning that family businesses can actually be wildly successful in South Korea. In addition to the chaebols I thought that the government having such a huge role in South Koreas economic development was crazy. I never expected a military regime to have a success story in the economic field like South Korea did, not to mention all the mandates for development that become successful. Among the many developmental programs named in the paper, one that sticks in my head is forcing rural farmers to change their roofs to tiles. This policy brings to light the control the South Korean government held over their people and just how far they were willing to go to achieve economic growth. Overall, I thought the paper was really good, and a blog post isn’t sufficient to talk about why “The Miracle on the Han” is such a different and amazing story of economic development. However, I think that it can be broken down to the role of the government, education, desire to beat out North Korea, and the role of foreign aid.
The article “Institutional Barriers and World Income Disparities” did a really good job explaining exactly what causes some countries, such as the four Asian tigers, to succeed while others fell behind in development. I think this article makes itself a lot more enjoyable to read by including summaries of the exact scenarios the countries in their data faced and why they improved or deteriorated. For the fast-growing economies, I was not necessarily surprised, but interested at how many of those countries focused on technology and exporting as the main source of growth. On the other hand, I was a bit surprised that Botswana was one of the fast-growing countries mentioned, with a huge emphasis on their mining capabilities. When reading this article, South Korea, China, and Hong Kong were all countries I was familiar with their fast-growing economies, but Botswana was a country I had not heard of. In addition, with such a high AIDS rate in Botswana, I agree with the author that they should be considered the African Miracle. I have only talked about my thoughts on the fast-growing countries up until this point, but the most interesting thing about this paper comes from the development laggard countries. Brazil, Chile, and Argentina are all countries that I am learning about in a Latin American Economics class currently, and the similarities between what the paper states and what I have learned are strikingly similar. When it comes to Brazil and Argentina, their economies are not stable and the paper did a good job at mentioning that. I really appreciate the number value of how much Brazil loses to corruption, but I also think that the corruption leads to more problems than just a financial value. The corruption can affect education, mortality rates, and other factors of society that are a big part of what's holding Brazil back. On the other hand, Chile is really surprising to me that they fit in the laggard section of this paper. I knew that Chile had one of the most stable, healthy economies in Latin America, but I did not know the problems Chile previously faced. This is really interesting because it can show that how a country functioned in the past and the issues that country had can end up being a thorn in its side for decades to come. Overall, the paper does a great job at categorizing exactly what countries did to improve themselves, and what other countries may have done to not improve their situations.
Toggle Commented Sep 30, 2021 on For Friday's Discussion at Jolly Green General
Krugman creates many amazing points in his paper that I think should be highly valued; however, the section on “The Evolution of Ignorance” really caught my attention. Krugmans connection of cartographers making maps of Africa and going from including the inside to becoming ignorant of the inside was something that I had not heard of before. In addition, when it is related to economics having a period of ignorance between the 1940s and 1970s, I was amazed to find out that a model such as development economics went unexplored after being discovered. Krugmans smaller point in this section about being able to previously argue a point verbally was allowed, but after the 1960s it would have resulted in a ton of ridicule. It is a bit weird that such a short period would lead to such drastically changing ideas of authenticity in the same field. This smaller section on ignorance made me think a lot about how economics and economists can have trouble proving their theories, and how development economics was one of those hard to explain fields. Besides the section of the paper on ignorance, I thought the overall paper was well written and not terribly hard to understand. The use of metaphors and discovering something that is already known seemed to me like an idea that is very prevalent in what we have learned so far in class. I like to think this is like what we spoke about in class with the “Deworming the World” initiative, where something, like nutrition affecting the effectiveness of education, seems so obvious and known can be found again in research. This idea is also constantly throughout Krugmans paper, especially when he talks about the Big Push. The Big Push, as said by Krugman, is both a simple and very sophisticated model. I think that the Big Push model is interesting in its ideas of resources, using only labor and a premium wage is unlike models you see in economics. But, I mostly understand the model and why Krugman relates to representing the world in a dish pan. Overall, I thought that this paper was good for explaining development economics and the sort of troubles that it overcame in the past, as well as how it is becoming important and how attempts can be made to try and “make sense of the worlds complexity.”
Toggle Commented Sep 23, 2021 on Krugman for Friday at Jolly Green General
Before reading this article, I had very little idea of what MDGs or SDGs were. Sachs did a great job explaining the intricacies of both sets of goals, and even though this article is a bit outdated, I think that it still holds a lot of importance in the world today. Most notably, Sachs discussions on climate stability can be recognized today as an important topic. There is still a need to establish more sustainable goals in terms of emissions reduction, population growth, and giving everyone access to clean, sustainable water. However, despite environmental issues being the most important in my eyes, I do agree with Sach’s argument that you must succeed in all three categories (Environmental sustainability, Economic development, and social inclusion) in order to truly reach any achievement in these goals. The article also pointed out a lot of the successes and downfalls of MDGs that Sachs would try to fix in his SDG proposal. From these, I believe that because MDG’s were so simple, practical, and not binding it made it less stressful for countries that would benefit and made them more likely to participate. In addition, a lot of what I read from Sach’s proposals reminds me of the previous article we read about how the poor spend their money. In the article of how the poor spend their money, we learned of the disparity in countries that have less access to infrastructure such as water, electricity, and even bathrooms. This issue is almost word for word what Sachs wants to solve in his first SDG. I know that both Sachs article and the “Economic Lives of the Poor” articles are outdated, but it is almost a daily occurrence to hear about how different a poor country is to a rich country. Mainly, this entails people living without access to clean water or electricity, and the growing concern of reaching a no point of return with our environmental destruction. Although Sachs argument carries weight today, as mentioned by Alli abpve SDGs have not performed well recently. This is off-putting to read about, especially considering SDGs appear practical and relatively obtainable. To alleviate this, I believe leaders should re-establish goals for 2030 and attempt to hit benchmarks. This could be useful in resetting SDGs because after not performing well to start, many countries may not see their original goals as obtainable now, but if they were to set an obtainable goal, they may be more willing to put the effort into reaching those goals.
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Sep 16, 2021