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.

Racism, Shitholes and Re-election

Over the course of his presidency, US President Donald Trump’s racism has become more evident with more leaks of his private remarks, which he has been generally quick to deny, qualify and explain away.

Meritocracy Legitimizes, Deepens Inequality

How often have you heard someone lamenting or even condemning inequality in society, concluding with an appeal to meritocracy? We like to think that if only the deserving, the smart ones, those we deem competent or capable, often meaning the ones who are more like us, were in charge, things would be better, or just fine.

Reviving the Economy, Creating the ‘new Normal’

The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly impacted most economies in the world. Its full impacts will not be felt, let alone measured, until it runs its course. Many countries are still struggling to contain contagion, while the costs on both lives and livelihoods will undoubtedly have long-term repercussions.

Unsung Heroines: Who Cares for the Carers?

Even before Covid-19, the world was facing a care crisis. The plight of often neglected, under-appreciated, under-protected and poorly equipped ‘frontline’ health personnel working to contain the pandemic has drawn attention to the tip of the care crisis iceberg.

Economic Ghosts Block Post-Lockdown Recovery

As governments the world over struggle to revive their economies after the debilitating lockdowns they imposed following their failure to undertake adequate precautionary containment measures to curb Covid-19 contagion, neoliberal naysayers are already warning against needed deficit financing for relief and recovery.

Covid-19 Recessions: This Time It’s Really Different

The world economic contraction so far this year is largely due to measures, especially at the national or local level, to contain or prevent Covid-19 contagion, particularly those restricting business operations, thus reducing economic activity, output, incomes and spending.

This Year of Living Dangerously

Indonesia’s founding President Sukarno delivered his annual Independence or National Day address on 17 August 1964 anticipating the forthcoming year as Tahun vivere pericoloso, the ‘year of living dangerously’. 2020 may well be the world’s turn, and not only due to the obvious Covid-19 threat to the world.

Politics, Profits Undermine Public Interest in Covid-19 Vaccine Race

With well over five million Covid-19 infections worldwide, and deaths exceeding 340,000, the race for an effective vaccine has accelerated since the SARS-Cov-2 virus was first identified as the culprit.

Covid-19 Straw Breaks Free Trade Camel’s Back

Economic growth is supposed to be the tide that lifts all boats. According to the conventional wisdom until recently, growth in China, India and East Asian countries took off thanks to opening up to international trade and investment.

Why Some National Health Care Systems Do Better than Others

In public health discussions, it is generally recognized that the social returns to health care investments are greater than the private returns, and much of such investments should be financed by the state.

‘Passing the Buck’ Becomes Reckless ‘Conspiracy Blame Game’

Although Wuhan local authorities undoubtedly ostracized local medical whistle-blowers, notably Dr Li Wenliang, who suspected a new virus was responsible for flu-like infections in Wuhan in late 2019, official responses were apparently not delayed, and possibly even expedited, as the novel character of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, responsible for Covid-19 infections, was not immediately self-evident.

Argentina Responds Boldly to Coronavirus Crisis

Like much of the West, Argentina did not take many early precautionary actions after the Covid-19 epidemic was confirmed in January, but became the first Latin American country to act decisively with a 12 March public health emergency declaration. The presidential decree came a day after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global pandemic, just over a week after the first case was detected in the republic on 3 March.

All-of-Government, Whole-of-Society Involvement Needed to Fight Virus

The Covid-19 pandemic is now widely considered more threatening than any other recent viral epidemic. Most believe that many more have been infected or even died than officially confirmed.

Thandika Mkandawire, Pan-Africanist Par Excellence

Thandika Mkandawire (1940-2020) had a wicked sense of humour. But he was so considerate that he often made himself the butt of his jokes which typically had a moral. When others struggled to pronounce his surname, he would help them out, “Me kinda weary”.

Covid-19: Brazil’s Bolsonaro trumps Trump

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro appointed medical entrepreneur Nelson Teich his new health minister on 17 April. The businessman quickly echoed his boss’ desire to resume business as usual regardless of its potentially lethal consequences.

Vietnam Winning New War Against Invisible Enemy

Vietnam, just south of coastal China, is the 15th most populous country in the world with 97 million people.According to its Ministry of Health (MoH), as of 13 April, there were 262 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 144 recovering or discharged from hospitals, and no deaths.

Kerala Covid-19 Response Model for Emulation

Within weeks, the Covid-19 epidemic was classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an epidemic of international significance, triggering a pre-agreed WHO response. By the end of the first week of April, more than 1.3 million people had been confirmed as infected, with over 65,000 deaths across the world.

Green Counter-Revolution in Africa?

In 2006, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation jointly launched the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). The African Green Revolution Forum claims AGRA is the “world’s most important and impactful forum for African agriculture”.

Martin Khor, Third Worldist

Martin Khor Kok Peng passed away just after the end of the first quarter of 2020. He leaves behind an unusually rich legacy. Atypically for people mainly working in the worldideas, he was also a very practical and pragmatic activist who successfully built and sustained several important initiatives which will live on after him.

West First Policies Expose Myths

As the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic shifts from China to the developed West, all too many rich countries are acting selfishly, invoking the ‘national interest’, by banning exports of vital medical supplies.

East Asian Lessons for Controlling Covid-19

By the third week of March 2020, the number of Covid-19 deaths in Italy had overtaken the number of deaths in China. Authorities all over the world are restricting the movements of their populations as part of efforts to control the spread of Covid-19.

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