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This article makes a very convincing argument why global warming is a very real phenomenon and how it can have drastic impacts on the earth. Many of us could use anecdotal evidence to explain global warming. Above, Colleen mentioned the tornados in Illinois. We can also look at the devastating effects of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Recent weather-related events follow the patterns mentioned in this article, only proving how serious climate change—be it a 2°C change or a 4°C change—is and how it will continue to affect more developed and less developed nation-states. What I would like to focus my blog post on is the role of the LDC’s in the creation of policies to prevent global climate change. The article says that regions in Africa, Central and South America and Asia will primarily be affected by global warming. Being underdeveloped regions (relative to the US and Western Europe), I got the sense that these countries probably don’t have much of a voice in policy creation to prevent global warming. Countries like the U.S. are acting like a big brother to the LDC’s, which I think is absolutely necessary, but have they overstepped their boundary? I think that in the global climate change arena, it is probably mostly developed countries that decide policy prescriptions for the LDC’s, to which I argue, how can one prescribe a policy solution from the outside? This idea goes back to the division between theory/models and field work. I can only hope that the more developed countries are doing field work in the LDC's to back up their policy decisions. Global climate change is a hotly contested topic today. I think that many people assume they know most of the repercussions of global warming, but this article definitely sheds a new light on the consequences of global warming.
Toggle Commented Nov 20, 2013 on ECON 280 Updated Syllabus at Jolly Green General
Like others have already mentioned above, this article only emphasizes the importance of human capital development, especially compared to capital deepening. The more education and training farmers received, the more likely they were to adopt agroforestry. Since this concept has already been thoroughly discussed above, I would like to focus on a different aspect of the paper I found interesting. Casey mentions that “traditional economic theory predicts that per capita income will play a positive role in the adoption of new technologies” (515). However, the empirical evidence shows that this is not the case. Just because farmers may have more capital to “gamble” with, they still act risk-averse in adopting the new techniques. I think the confidence of the poor is a big factor here. This article is able to take into account a small aspect of this variable: “The investment in agroforestry is, at least, partially explained by the confidence farmers have in the available evidence” (518). However, I don’t believe economics can completely measure variables like confidence. Naturally, the poor are probably less confident in all aspects of their life, thus they are less likely to take a risk to invest in new agroforestry techniques. How do you make the poor more confident? Like with many other problems we have analyzed this term, I think this problem could be tackled through human capital development. It makes me believe that human capital development is almost the cure-all solution to development problems as we have not seen an instance where it has failed to improve the lives of the poor and general society.
Toggle Commented Nov 14, 2013 on ECON 280 Paper for Thursday at Jolly Green General
Overall, the Sachs and Malaney article ties in a lot of what we have focused on in class up to this point, particularly human capital investment and women's empowerment and economic development, as others have mentioned above. What struck me about this article was one of the hypotheses used to explain the linkage between high infant/child mortality rates and high fertility rates. The article mentions the 'child-survivor hypothesis' when parents base their fertility decisions on a desire for a certain number of surviving children. (We've discussed the idea of fertility as a form of informal insurance in class as well). In turn, this high-fertility environment entails “large human capital costs for women” (682). (This goes back to our discussions of Duflo’s paper and women empowerment and economic development). Particularly related to the economic and social impact of malaria, I found it interesting that "when malaria incidence within African villages is stratified by household income, there is often little difference across income classes" (681). In other words, malaria doesn't discriminate between richer and poorer. This justifies the relationship between malaria and poverty (the idea that malaria creates poverty). However, like many above, I think the dual causality relationship between malaria and poverty is justified and legitimate, so the fact that malaria does not discriminate between richer and poorer is only one piece of the entire dual causality puzzle.
While we don’t see the same kind of gender discrimination in the US as in countries like India and China, I think that for being such a developed country, the US should be much closer to gender equality than we are right now. My primary example is Latin America. While machismo is very much alive and well (and in daily life women aren’t treated as equally as in the US), the region has had nine different women assume the presidency (as interim president, or president in their own right). The first woman president in Latin America, Isabel Perón, assumed power in 1974. In America, we could never imagine such a thing. It was a big enough deal when Barack Obama was the first African-American president to be elected in 2008, but we still have yet to elect a woman, a demographic (along with many others, like Hispanic and Asian) that has yet to be represented in a presidential election. However, I don’t think that the US is barring women from these positions, as might be the case in other less developed countries. For whatever reason, not many women vie for these positions, and that may be attributed to lack of empowerment. I guess I don’t entirely understand why Latin America, a region of mostly middle-income countries with a large amount of inequality (large gaps between the rich and the poor; not much of a middle class, but slowly growing and becoming more influential in politics and daily life) could currently have three democratically elected woman presidents (Dilma Rousseff in Brazil, Laura Chinchilla in Costa Rica, and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in Argentina) while the mighty and developed United States is still waiting for its first.
"By the late 1980s a remarkable convergence of views had developed around a set of policy principles that John Williamson (1990) infelicitously termed the “Washington Consensus.” These principles remain at the heart of today’s conventional understanding of a desirable policy framework for economic growth, even though they have been greatly embellished and expanded in the years since." The statement above was the first thing that caught my eye in this article. Essentially, Western ideas were (and still are) seen as an ideal set of instructions to becoming a developed country. As others have mentioned above, a recurring theme of Rodrik's paper is that one cookie cutter set of instructions doesn't work in all cases. (This would make sense, as every country has its own unique history, geography, amount/type of resources, etc.) I would like to use the case of 1990s Argentina that will assert that one set of growth policies (including the "Washington Consensus,” even though it is supposedly a set of policies that all countries should strive for) doesn't work for all countries. Above is a link to another article by Rodrik about what went wrong in Argentina. During the 1990s, Argentina’s policies were “exemplary by the orthodox standards that neo-liberal economists advocated around the world…the country undertook more trade liberalization, tax reform, privatization, and financial reform than virtually any other country in Latin America.” And no other country tried as hard as Argentina to “endear itself to international capital markets.” While the Argentine case did have some experimental elements to it, it was “solidly grounded in theories expounded by US-educated economists, the US Treasury…[and] the World Bank and IMF.” And, as expected, Argentina’s economy took off in the early 1990s after decades of stagnation. But then in the late 1990s, Argentina was hit with a series of external shocks (Mexican peso crisis in 1995, Asian crisis in 1997-98, and the Brazilian devaluation of its currency in early 1999) and economic growth turned negative. Foreign investors became worried about receiving payments on their huge liabilities incurred during the decade and “by the second quarter of 2001, Argentina’s country risk was rising relative to that of other ‘emerging markets.’” As a result, interest rates rise to very high levels and it became very likely that Argentina would default. By November 2001, people began withdrawing large sums of dollars from their bank accounts, turning pesos into dollars and sending them abroad, causing a bank run. Government enacted measures froze bank accounts for 12 months, allowing for only minor sums of cash to be withdrawn. The freezes caused numerous riots, and the president (de la Rúa) was quick to resign and flee the Casa Rosada via helicopter. Ultimately, Argentina was a failed example of the “Washington Consensus.” There are some counter arguments that state because Argentina did not follow the rules to a tee, the result was one of the worst economic crises in the country’s history. However, I would counter those by restating the fact that one cookie cutter set of growth policies does not work in all countries. I’ll close with a quote from Rodrik’s Argentina article: “Despite the tremendous wave of neo-liberal reform that swept over the continent during the last two decades, only three economies in Latin America managed in the 1990s to outdo the performance they had experienced under the inward-looking, populist policies of the past.”
Toggle Commented Sep 26, 2013 on Growth Strategies - Econ 280 at Jolly Green General
What I found most interesting about this article was the creation and development of development economics from the 1940s to the 1970s. During this time, even though economists were thinking about development and had sensible ideas, they couldn't actually express their ideas through existing economic models. As we discussed in class (during last week more than this week), we cannot thoroughly judge the development of a country by simply looking at the number of functioning institutions--the quality of those institutions is a very important factor in determining the level of development in a country. I believe this original lack of models has benefited the field, not hurt it (like it might in another economic field), and has contributed to the importance of fieldwork in the study. In the beginning, development economists didn't have models because they didn't exist. This lack of models also contributed to theories (like the high development theory) “not so much rejected as simply bypassed” for lack of evidence. Today, in some cases even though one could use a model to explain development in Ghana, the results from that analysis might be completely different from the results of an analysis in the field (we talked a little about this today in class). Krugman mentions that “the tendency of economists to emphasize what they know how to model formally can create blind spots.” I believe this statement especially pertains to development economics. Models can be very helpful, to an extent, especially in the field of development economics. Today, it seems that fieldwork is just as important, if not more important, to development economists than numbers on a paper. Some of my other economics courses this term are completely focused on theories and models (almost dependent on them, I would say). Maybe the original absence of models has helped development economics progress to a point where economists need to look outside their models and into the actual world in order to obtain answers.
As I type this response on my iPad, I am sitting in a sorority house at a small, liberal arts campus--quite the juxtaposition to this article. First off, I think this article really made me reflect on how lucky we are to be here, at W&L, and to be healthy and on our way to a stable job. But on to the development economics... For me, the most interesting question that was posed was: Why don't the poor spend more money on food? As we've been discussing in class, characteristics of development can't always be measured quantitatively. I think that in this particular case (though it could be applied to other topics throughout the article as well) we must consider the human element, for lack of a better term. In the 13 countries that were studied, food represented somewhere between 56 and 74-78 percent of a household's budget in rural and urban areas. At the same time, the median household spends 10 percent of their annual budget on festivals. Why? My answer may be too psychological or completely miss the target, but I think it has to do with being human. Food is temporary satisfaction--a poor person can eat one meal a day, but that will only satisfy them for 24 hours, if that. Thinking back on memories from a wedding or a religious festival, could make one happy for a lifetime. In addition, I think this answer may be closely related with expectations and life expectancy. A 45-year-old dad, who may be toward the end of his life (depending on the country's life expectancy), may want to "splurge" on a wedding for his daughter if he knows his time may be up soon. I think that this concept of spending money on festivals could link back to the happiness of the poor, as Christine mentioned. The article says: "While the poor certainly feel poor, their levels of self-reported happiness or self-reported health levels are not particularly low." I think this only shows how important happiness economics is when looking at the whole picture.
Toggle Commented Sep 11, 2013 on Economic Lives of the Poor at Jolly Green General
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Sep 11, 2013