Archive for May, 2009

Environmentalists often draw ludicrous conclusions from their beloved statistical models. A recent prominent example is the estimate from the Global Humanitarian Forum, an organisation led by Kofi Annan (a former secretary-general of the United Nations), that global warming is causing more than 300,000 deaths and about $125 billion (£77 billion) in economic losses each year. […]

A hugely revealing essay attacking growth by James Gustave Speth for America’s Schumacher Society. Speth is, among other things, a former head of the United Nations Development Programme (1993-9). Yet a man who was entrusted with the leadership of one of the world’s key development institutions is blatantly anti-growth: “Economic growth may be the world’s […]

An interesting piece on the BBC website with the headline “the harsh necessity of child labour”. The article looks at the situation in Bangladesh where dire circumstances force many children to work. It is easy to condemn child labour in the abstract. But it comes about largely as a result of economic necessity rather than […]

The following comment by me appeared in the latest Fund Strategy (25 May). Last week’s news about the potential downgrade of Britain’s sovereign debt was not a surprise but it should come as a warning. Stabilising the economy is not the same as putting it on a path to strong growth. Much of the media […]

David Chandler, professor of economics at Westminster University, has written a fascinating essay on the politics of environmentalism (PDF) in Radical Politics Today. It argues that state institutions have promoted environmental ideas in an attempt to bolster their legitimacy. This is in the context of traditional measures of welfare and educational progress appearing increasingly contested. […]

Carl Schramm provides a useful review of growth theory in an article for Real Clear Markets. He takes in key mainstream thinkers on economic growth and development including Paul Collier, William Easterly, Deepak Lal, Dani Rodrik, Walt Rostow, Jeffrey Sachs, Robert Solow and Mohammad Yunus. Two points stood out for me. First, the difficulty mainstream […]

It is rare to find new ways of expressing growth scepticism – the arguments tend to fit into well-established patterns – but Richard Reeves came up with one in an article in the Financial Times yesterday. The director of Demos, an influential British think tank, came up with “progressive austerity”. By this he means cutting […]

The Independent, a British daily newspaper, has published a comment piece by me on “greedy bankers”.

An excellent recent essay by Neil Davenport in mute magazine helps to draw out the intellectual backdrop to the rise of growth scepticism. Davenport’s piece is a review of two classics of the “Marxist” Frankfurt school – Dialectic of Enlightenment and One-Dimensional Man – plus a trilogy on the Third Reich by Richard Evans. Davenport […]

The following comment by me appeared in the latest Fund Strategy (18 May). A fundamental problem with economic discussion is its naturalism. It wrongly assumes that the human world works in a similar way to the natural one. This error is apparent in the discussion of ­pending economic recovery or, to use the awful phrase, […]