Stories written by Anis Chowdhury

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.

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.

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 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.

Climate Injustice at Glasgow Cop-Out

The planet is already 1.1°C warmer than in pre-industrial times. July 2021 was the hottest month ever recorded in 142 years. Despite the pandemic slowdown, 2020 was the hottest year so far, ending the warmest decade (2011-2020) ever. Betrayal in Glasgow Summing up widespread views of the recently concluded Glasgow climate summit, former Irish President Mary Robinson observed, “People will see this as a historically shameful dereliction of duty,… nowhere near enough to avoid climate disaster”.

WTO Finished Without TRIPS Waiver

Quickly enabling greater and more affordable production of and access to COVID-19 medical needs is urgently needed in the South. Such progress will also foster much needed goodwill for international cooperation, multilateralism and sustainable development.

Carbon Tax Over-Rated

Addressing global warming requires cutting carbon emissions by almost half by 2030! For the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, emissions must fall by 45% below 2010 levels by 2030 to limit warming to 1.5°C, instead of the 2.7°C now expected.

Will Glasgow Fix Broken Climate Finance Promises?

Current climate mitigation plans will result in a catastrophic 2.7°C world temperature rise. US$1.6–3.8 trillion is needed annually to avoid global warming exceeding 1.5°C.

Bleak Prospects for Least Developed Countries

“The outlook for LDCs is grim”. The latest United Nations (UN) assessment of prospects for the least developed countries (LDCs) notes recent setbacks without finding any silver lining on the horizon. Promises unkept Half a century ago, LDCs were first officially recognised by a UN General Assembly resolution. It built on research, analysis and advocacy by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Inflation Bogey Blocking Recovery

The bogey of inflation has been revived. Dubious pre-pandemic economic progress, fiscal constraints and vaccine apartheid were bad enough. Now, ostensibly anti-inflationary measures also threaten recovery and sustainable development.

End Vaccine Apartheid

Vaccine costs have pushed many developing countries to the end of the COVID-19 vaccination queue, with most low-income ones not even lining up. Worse, less vaccinated poor nations cannot afford fiscal efforts to provide relief or stimulate recovery, let alone achieve Agenda 2030.

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