Trade & Investment

Driving Financialization

The emergence and growth of financialization from the 1980s has been driven by several factors operating at various levels – national and international, ideological and political, and of course, technological. The 1971 collapse of the Bretton Woods (BW) international monetary system arguably paved the way for financial globalization.

Restoring Our Degraded Planet

On the 1st of March 2019, we saw one of the rare moments in history when the entire world comes together and agrees on a joint way forward. The United Nations General Assembly recognized the urgent need to tackle the compounded crisis of climate change and biodiversity loss, and passed a resolution to proclaim 2021-2030 as the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. With the aim to restore at least 350 million hectares of degraded landscapes by 2030 – an area the size of India – the UN Decade is a loud and clear call to action for all of us. And it is a great opportunity for the UN-REDD Programme and its partner countries to build on 10 years worth of relevant experience with safeguards, impactful policies and measures, and attracting private and public investments.

Transforming Society, Financialization Destroys Social Solidarity

Finance has not stopped at dominating the real economy. The tentacles of finance have reached into significant, if not most parts of society. Gerald Davis characterises modern society, where finance is dominant, as a ‘portfolio society’, in which aspects of social life have been securitized and transformed into a kind of capital or investment to be managed.

Lost in Globalisation

Do not panic! This is not about telling you how bank accounts and pension funds have been used to finance the production of nuclear bombs (they call it ‘investment’).

Asia-Pacific Region Viewed as Engine of the World Economy

Since this Commission first met in 1947, our countries have travelled a long journey. Our economies are expected to become larger than the rest of the world combined, measured by purchasing power parity. It is often said the Asia-Pacific region is the engine of the world economy.

Finance’s New Avatar

Over recent decades, the scope, size, concentration, power and even the purpose and role of finance have changed so significantly that a new term, financialization, was coined to name this phenomenon. Financialization refers to a process that has not only transformed finance itself, but also, the real economy and society. The transformation goes beyond the quantitative to involve qualitative change as finance becomes dominant, instead of serving the needs of the real economy.

Report Reveals Mounting Pressure on Zambia’s Environmental Resources

There is a strong link between provision of basic social services and the use of natural resources in a country. Thus, with increased population comes additional pressure on natural resources. This is a key finding in the latest Zambia Environment Outlook (ZEO) Report 4, published by the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA).

Public-Private Partnerships Fad Fails

After the failure and abuses of privatization and contracting-out services from the 1980s, there has been renewed appreciation for the role of the state or government. Earlier promoters of privatization have taken a step backward, only to take two more forward to instead promote public-private partnerships (PPPs).

Global Hunger Is Threatening Families Because of Climate Change

There is barely a corner of human life that will not be affected by climate change, and some of its impacts are already being felt. Consider this, 821 million people are now hungry and over 150 million children stunted, putting the hunger eradication goal, SDG 2, at risk. Today 15 May, is the United Nations International Day of Families and the theme for this year is, ‘Families and Climate Action’.

Privatization Solution Worse than Problem

Privatization has not provided the miracle cure for the problems (especially inefficiencies) associated with the public sector. The public interest has rarely been well served by private interests taking over from the public sector. Growing concern over the mixed consequences of privatization has spawned research worldwide.

Trump and China: The Art of Deal or Clumsy Bullying?

With the most recent spat between China and the US---not uncharacteristically if unintentionally engineered by Trump’s announcement of increasing tariffs from ten per cent to twenty five percent unless China agrees to his “deal”whatever that may be we seem to be back to the drawing board in the ongoing US-China trade war. Last week I received news from many experts including our own China watchers that a deal was imminent. Although my esteemed colleague Prof. Zhao was also in this group, he sagely pointed out even such a deal and seeming end of the trade war will not resolve the fundamental rivalries between US, the status quo power and China, the rising power. Now it seems that he had left out of the equation the unpredictable nature of Trump’s behavior.

South Africans Look to Re-elected Government to Rebuild a Stagnant Economy

Millions of South Africans headed out in large numbers, some braving cold and wet weather to cast their ballot in the country's sixth democratic elections this week. The 2019 election was one of the most competitive and contested elections that also saw a whopping 48 parties on the national ballot—up 300 percent from a mere 10 years ago.

Neoliberal Reforms Strengthening Monopoly Power and Abuses

Over the last four decades, growing concentration of market power in the hands of oligopolies, if not monopolies, has been greatly enabled by ostensibly neo-liberal reforms, worsening wealth concentration and gross inequalities in the world.

Benin’s Agriculture Has a Good Season, But it Wasn’t Easy

Théophile Houssou, a maize farmer from Cotonou, has spent sleepless nights lying awake worrying about the various disasters that could befall any farmer, often wondering, “What if it rains heavily and all my crops are washed away?” or “What if the armyworms invade my farm and eat up all the crops and I’m left with nothing?”

Coping With World Bank-Led Financialization

The World Bank has successfully promoted its ‘Maximizing Finance for Development’ (MFD) strategy by embracing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, internationally endorsed in September 2015. It has also secured support from the G20 of twenty biggest economies, and effectively pre-empted alternative approaches at the third UN Financing for Development summit in Addis Ababa in mid-2015.

Kenya and Ethiopia Cross-Border Initiative: A Move Towards Sustainable Peace

Many years of internecine conflict is being replaced by a new narrative of peace along the Kenya-Ethiopia border. Communities that once fought each other are now dreaming of a joint journey towards a better future.

Russia’s First Female Central Bank Governor in a Challenging Job

Within a few short months after taking up her post as governor of the Central Bank of Russia in 2013, Elvira Nabiullina faced a growing economic crisis brought on by plunging oil prices, geopolitical tensions, and sanctions.

Privatization Promotes Collusion and Corruption

At the risk of reiterating what should be obvious, the question of private or public ownership is distinct from the issue of competition or market forces. Despite the misleading claim that privatization promotes competition, it is competition policy, not privatization, that promotes competition.

Lost in the Cyberworld? The Enigmatic Mr Assange

Trump´s electoral success was preceded by a rise of chauvinistic politics in most of Europe, paired with electoral triumphs of far-right candidates in several other countries. A development accompanied by revelations of corrupt leaders laundering and transferring illegally obtained money, aided by financial institutions finding the means to do so. The world seems to move away from a rule-based order to a state of affairs dominated by might and wealth. World leaders´ private business dealings thrive within a global environment where laws intended to protect human rights are becoming increasingly ineffective. Foreign policies appear to be adapted to private gains and personal vendettas. Global financial systems seem to be crafted to facilitate kleptocracy and money laundering, while repression and violence smite whistle-blowers and daring journalists. Endeavours supported by propaganda and smear campaigns orchestrated by political/financial consultants and private investigation firms. All this is made possible through complicated schemes using the internet.

Global Energy Consumption is Up — So Are Emissions

Our acceptance of climate change doesn’t keep pace with our energy consumption reduction. However, the latest International Energy Agency’s (IEA’S) Global Energy and CO2 Status Report for 2018 has some good news.

CORRECTED VERSION: World Bank Dispossessing Rural Poor

The World Bank’s Enabling the Business of Agriculture (EBA) project, launched in 2013, has sought agricultural reforms favouring the corporate sector. EBA was initially established to support the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, initiated by the G8 to promote private agricultural development in Africa.

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