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 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.
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.
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.
The economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic is hard to predict as events are still unfolding, and estimates vary dramatically. UNCTAD
estimates lost output in the order of US$1 trillion, just over a third of Bloomberg
’s expectation of US$2.7 trillion in losses. The OECD
expects global economic growth to halve from already anaemic levels.
It is now clear that most East Asian government responses to novel coronavirus or Covid-19 outbreaks have been effective. In Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and Taiwan, the number infected have remained relatively low despite their proximity and vulnerability, while containment in China and South Korea has been impressive.
‘Getting government out of the way’, the neoliberal ‘free market’ mantra, was supposed to boost private investment. Instead, business investment has declined as a consequence. Many economies now seem incapable of making much needed investments to sustain growth, apparently due to ‘capital allocation’ problems.
The US is currently still in a stock market bubble which, if history is any guide, is likely to end, as argued by Thomas Palley
. While President Trump would, of course, like to sustain it to strengthen his November re-election prospects, the Covid19 black swan is already showing signs of pricking the bubble
As the outbreak of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 threatens a global pandemic, major stock markets around the world have suffered their worst performance since the 2008 financial crush.
Meeting the President of the Republic of Korea in September 2019, President Donald J Trump bragged
that the “US economy is the envy of the world”. Trump reiterated such claims in his State of the Union address
in early February, hailing his own policies with typical humility.
In an annual ritual early in the year, most major economic organizations have released forecasts for the global economy in 2020
. Incredibly, almost as a reminder of where financial power resides in this day and age, the International Monetary Fund
(IMF) released its forecasts at the World Economic Forum’s 50th annual meeting in Davos.
Many medicines and medical tests are unaffordable to most of humanity owing to the ability of typically transnational pharmaceutical giants to abuse their monopoly powers, enforced by intellectual property laws, to set prices to maximize profits over the long-term.
Financialization has worsened inequality through various channels, including macroeconomic policies. For example, quantitative easing and low, if not negative interest rates have fuelled credit and asset price bubbles, while fiscal spending cuts have adversely affected those depending on government assistance.
One mercantilist view is that exchange rate undervaluation – e.g., via accumulation of foreign exchange reserves in China’s case – is ‘industrial policy’ to promote export-led growth, benefiting producers of exports while discouraging imports.
If well planned, coordinated and implemented, a government funded school feeding programme for all primary school children can be progressively transformative. Such a programme, involving government departments and agencies working together, can benefit schoolchildren, their families, farmers and public health, now and in the future.
Many argue that China’s impressive growth for last four decades has been due to deliberate exchange rate undervaluation, promoting exports and discouraging imports. In August last year, the Trump administration accused China of engaging in currency manipulation.
The latest November 2019 UBS/PwC Billionaires Report
counted 2,101 billionaires globally, or 589 more than five years before. Earlier, Farhad Manjoo
had seriously recommended, ‘Abolish Billionaires’, presenting a moral case against the super-rich as they have and get far, far more than what they might reasonably claim to deserve.
China’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 14%. Since then, its growth rate has declined by more than half to 6.6% in 2018. The five-year moving average growth rate is at its lowest since reforms began in 1978, although annual growth briefly fell lower during 1989, the year of the Tian An Men incident.
Much recent unrest, such as the ‘yellow-vest’ protests in France and the US ‘Abolish the Super-Rich’ campaign
, is not against inequality per se, but reflects perceptions of changing inequalities. Most citizens resent inequalities when it is not only unacceptably high, but also rising.
Historically, most social security systems have developed in the formal sector of rich economies. However, most of the poor and hungry in the world live in rural areas, surviving in the informal economy.
Any balanced assessment of the so-called Chinese economic miracle
will recognize that it was extremely successful, not only during the reform period from 1979, but also since Liberation in 1949 despite the setbacks of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.