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Some (late) summer reading
From industrial policy’s resurgence to global poverty’s decline and Russia-Africa summits, here is some summer reading from across the world.
The GPI is on holiday this week, but here is some suggested reading for what’s left of the summer to keep you going until we’re back:
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Industrial policy has long been considered the Lord Voldemort of economics – dark magic wreaking havoc wherever its spells are cast. But Dani Rodrik and co argue here that it’s been falsely maligned due to dodgy evidence. A new generation of research is showing that, though still not a magic wand, industrial policy can conjure up impressive results when it comes to international development.
We regularly write about global poverty and what can be done to reduce it. So it's nice to read from time to time about how the world is actually moving in the right direction (if a bit too slowly). Killer stats abound in this report... in India, 415 million people moved out of poverty during 2005/2006 – 2019/2021; half of the world’s 1.1 billion poor people are children; 84% of all poor people live in rural areas. So there has been progress, but a lot more work to do.
This handful of highly industrialised countries are all basically back to the same per capita emissions as before the first world war. Some have more work to do than others and all need to go to (below) zero to start reversing climate change but again, progress. Sadly, low-income countries are basically at the same pre-World War I level too. Just another reminder that we can’t build the post fossil fuels global economy on the back of poor people.
Considerations of culture are rarely the natural topic of discussion for economists. Instead, the interventions they do focus on are often worthy but dry topics regarding tax rates or schoolteacher incentive structures. Such things matter but they aren’t particularly the stuff of day-to-day lives of “normal people”. Religion is on the other end of the spectrum and this paper does a good job of weaving the economic and the quotidian together.
Summits, summits, summits! | the Economist (paywalled)
Whilst the GPI might be taking it a bit easy, those brave summiteers churn on. Up first, the Russia–Africa summit, where African heads of state were invited to the Kremlin. It seems like Russian hospitality isn’t quite as inviting as it was last time round though. Only three short years ago, 43 African heads of state boarded the plane to Moscow for the event; this time around, a mere 17. Here’s the official release and more analysis from PRIO.
The catchily named “the UN Food Systems Summit +2 Stocktaking Moment (UNFSS+2)” errr... took stock of what has been achieved since the previous meetings of these particular minds in 2021. On the agenda was the intersection of climate and food systems with half an eye on, you guessed it, another summit: COP28 in UAE. Some high level comments can be found here, here and here.
In the background of both of these pow-wows was the (temporary?) demise of the black sea grain initiative, the full effects of which have probably not yet been felt by the world's poor. With Ukraine being a major cereals and edible oils producer, not to mention in need of export revenues, efforts continue to revive the deal before food security south of the Sahara is further destabilised.
Hopefully that’s enough reading to keep you occupied while we sun ourselves on various beaches. We’ll be back next week with our regular scheduled posts. As always, if you’d like to contribute a guest post to the GPI blog, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.