Stories written by Jomo Kwame Sundaram
Jomo Kwame Sundaram, a former economics professor, was United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, and received the Wassily Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought.

When Saviours Are the Problem

Central bank policies have often worsened economic crises instead of resolving them. By raising interest rates in response to inflation, they often exacerbate, rather than mitigate business cycles and inflation.

Finance Drives World to Stagflation

The world is being pressed by financial interests to raise interest rates, ostensibly to check inflation. After the US Federal Reserve started raising interest rates, more central banks have been doing likewise. Considering inflation’s contemporary causes, such ‘follow the leader’ central bank mimicry cannot check it except by slowing economies. Worse, this has meant taking on huge new risks, seriously damaging world economic prospects in the medium and long-term.

Out of Africa: Rich Continent, Poor People

Capital flight from the global South is immense, with widespread adverse effects. A new book proposes measures to curb, even reverse capital flight from Africa. It also offers pragmatic lessons for many developing countries.

The World Can Stop Capital Flight Now

Curbing capital flight from developing countries is long overdue. New sanctions against Russian oligarchs show this can be done with the requisite political will. Recent research also shows how to more effectively stop capital flight.

Sri Lankan Economic Crisis Inflicted by Self-Serving Elite

Once deemed a basic human needs success story, Sri Lanka (SL) is now in its worst economic crisis since independence in 1948. Nonetheless, SL’s ‘moment of truth’ now offers lessons for other developing countries.

China Debt Traps in the New Cold War

As China increases lending to other developing countries, ‘debt trap’ charges are growing quickly. As it greatly augments financing for development while other sources continue to decline, condemnation of China’s loans is being weaponized in the new Cold War.

Deepening Stagflation: Out of the Frying Pan into the Fire

The world is sailing into a perfect storm as key leaders seem intent on threatening more war, albeit while proclaiming the noblest of intentions. By doing so, they block international cooperation to create conditions for sustainable peace and shared prosperity for all.

War or Peace, Barbarism or Hope

The spectre of ‘stagflation’ threatens the world once again. This time, the risk is the direct consequence of political provocations and war, and not simply due to inexorable economic forces. Stagflation? Stagflation is a composite word implying inflation with stagnation. Stagnation refers to weak, ‘near zero’ growth, inevitably worsening unemployment. Inflation refers to price increases – not high prices, as often implied.

Stagflation Threat: Be Pragmatic, Not Dogmatic

“If your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail”. Still haunted by the clever preaching of monetarist guru Milton Friedman’s ghost, all too many monetary authorities address every inflationary threat or sign they see by raising interest rates.

Ukraine Incursion, World Stagflation

Finger pointing in the blame game over Russia’s Ukraine incursion obscures the damage it is doing on many fronts. Meanwhile, billions struggle to cope with worsening living standards, exacerbated by the pandemic and more. Losing sight in the fog of war US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken insists, “the Russian people will suffer the consequences of their leaders’ choices”. Western leaders and media seem to believe their unprecedentedcrushing sanctions” will have a “chilling effect” on Russia.

Inflation Targeting Constrains Development

All too many developing countries have been persuaded or required to prioritize inflation targeting (IT) in their monetary policy. By doing so, they have tied their own hands instead of adopting bolder economic policies for growth, jobs and sustainable development.

Inflation Targeting Voodoo

All over the world, people expect policies by central bankers trained in economics to have a sound scientific base. But in fact, inflation targeting is an article of faith with neither theoretical nor empirical basis.

Financialization at Heart of Economic Malaise

COVID-19 has exposed major long-term economic vulnerabilities. This malaise – including declining productivity growth – can be traced to the greater influence of finance in the real economy.

Peasants Marginalized by Big Farmers

A recent Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) study shows the largest farms cultivate a high and increasing share of agricultural land in much of the world. Farm size concentration World Agricultural Census data for 129 countries show about 40% of the world’s farmland is operated by farms over 1000 hectares (ha) in size. About 70% is operated by the top 1% of farms, all bigger than 50 ha each.

Resist Inflation Phobia Coup

Calls, even screams, to fight inflation above all else are getting shriller. Thankfully, even The Economist (5 Feb. 2022) reminds all, Fighting inflation could put the world in a slump. No inflation consensus International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva doubts the world faces a runaway inflation threat. She urges policymakers to carefully calibrate fiscal and monetary policies, with more “specificity”, as not ‘one size fits all’.

Inflation Paranoia Threatens Recovery

Inflation hawks are winning the day. The latest ‘beggar thyself’ race to raise interest rates has begun. This ostensibly responds to the spectre of runaway inflation, supposedly retarding economic growth and progress, and thus threatening central bank ‘credibility’.

Climate Inaction, Injustice Worsened by Finance Fiasco

Many factors frustrate the international cooperation needed to address the looming global warming catastrophe. As most rich nations have largely abdicated responsibility, developing countries need to think and act innovatively and cooperatively to better advance the South. Climate action The world is woefully offtrack to achieving the current international consensus that it is necessary to keep the global temperature rise by the end of the 21st century to no more than 1.5°C (degrees Celsius) above pre-industrial levels two centuries ago.

More Progressive Taxation Needed for Social Progress

Governments must innovatively develop progressive means to finance the large-scale social spending needed to improve lives and livelihoods, especially following the COVID-19 pandemic. More egalitarian tax reforms should enable governments to equitably mobilize desperately needed revenue to advance sustainable development for all.

Greed-Driven Pandemic Still Killing Millions

Failure to vaccinate most in poor countries sustains the COVID-19 pandemic. Rich country greed and patent monopolies block developing countries from affordably making the means to protect themselves. Mutant menace The SARS-CoV-2 virus has been mutating as it replicates. Numerous replications in hundreds of millions of hosts have generated many variants. Some mutations are more resilient than others, and better able to overcome human defences.

Climate Change: Adapt for the Future, Not the Past

Funding for developing countries to address global warming is grossly inadequate. Very little finance is for adaptation to climate change, the urgent need of countries most adversely affected. Also, adaptation needs to be forward-looking rather than only addressing accumulated problems.

Profiting from the Carbon Offset Distraction

Carbon offset markets allow the rich to emit as financial intermediaries profit. By fostering the fiction that others can be paid to cut greenhouse gases (GHGs) instead, it undermines efforts to do so.

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