World Bank Dispossessing Rural Poor Jomo Kwame Sundaram and Anis Chowdhury

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. The New Alliance has been touted as "a new model of partnership" for agricultural transformation in Africa. The Bank has used the EBA to address the land issue in developing countries, particularly in Africa. The effort is strongly supported by the US and UK governments as well as the Gates Foundation, all strong proponents…

Has Privatization Benefited the Public? Jomo Kwame Sundaram

In most cases of privatization, some outcomes benefit some, which serves to legitimize the change. Nevertheless, overall net welfare improvements are the exception, not the rule. Never is everyone better off. Rather, some are better off, while others are not, and typically, many are even worse off. The partial gains are typically high, or even negated by overall costs, which may be diffuse, and less directly felt by losers. Privatized monopoly powers Since many SOEs are public monopolies, privatization has typically transformed them into private monopolies. In turn, abuse of such market monopoly power enables more rents and corporate profits.…

Belt and Road Initiative vs Washington Consensus Jomo Kwame Sundaram

With the Washington Consensus from the 1980s being challenged, President Donald Trump withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and China pursuing its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), most notably with its own initiatives such as the multilateral Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the political and economic landscape in East Asia continues to evolve. Jomo Kwame Sundaram was interviewed about likely implications for developing countries in the region and beyond. Belt and Road Initiative  What do you think of world growth prospects and China's Belt and Road Initiative? Although there are some hopeful signs here and there, there…

Promoting Privatization Jomo Kwame Sundaram

Privatization has been central to the ‘neo-liberal’ counter-revolution from the 1970s against government economic interventions associated with Roosevelt and Keynes as well as post-colonial state-led economic development. Many developing countries were forced to accept privatization policies as a condition for credit or loan support from the World Bank and other international financial institutions, especially after the fiscal and debt crises of the early 1980s. Other countries voluntarily embraced privatization, often on the pretext of fiscal and debt constraints, in their efforts to mimic new Anglo-American criteria of economic progress. Demonizing SOEs Globally, inflation was attributed to excessive government intervention, public…

Ignorance – Inspired Brexit Imperial Nostalgia Jomo Kwame Sundaram and Anis Chowdhury

As the possible implications of Britain's self-imposed ‘no-deal' exit from the European Union loom larger, a new round of imperial nostalgia has come alive. After turning its back on the Commonwealth since the Thatcherite 1980s, some British Conservative Party leaders are seeking to revive colonial connections in increasingly desperate efforts to avoid self-inflicted marginalization following divorce from its European Union neighbours across the Channel. Imperial nostalgia Part of the new Brexit induced neo-imperial mythology is that its colonies did not provide any significant economic benefit to Britain itself. Instead, it is suggested that colonial administrations were run at great cost…

Hate Speech Threatens Our Humanity Jomo Kwame Sundaram and M. Nadarajah

Do politicians’ words matter? Since becoming US President, Donald J Trump has dismissed his opponents and others he does not like as evil, stupid or both. He has referred to undocumented immigrants as animals, and to poor countries as shitholes. Fostering culture of hate Around the world, such harsh words have become normalized as part of the rhetoric of leaders, against perceived and manufactured enemies, to mobilize the intended ‘imagined community’ against ‘ the other’. Such rhetoric, increasingly emulated by political, religious and community leaders the world over, has contributed greatly to the growing climate of resentment and hatred of…

Agribusiness is the Problem, Not the Solution Jomo Kwame Sundaram

For two centuries, all too many discussions about hunger and resource scarcity has been haunted by the ghost of Parson Thomas Malthus. Malthus warned that rising populations would exhaust resources, especially those needed for food production. Exponential population growth would outstrip food output. Humanity now faces a major challenge as global warming is expected to frustrate the production of enough food as the world population rises to 9.7 billion by 2050. Timothy Wise's new book [Eating Tomorrow: Agribusiness, Family Farmers, and the Battle for the Future of Food. New Press, New York, 2019] argues that most solutions currently put forward…

Economic Crisis can trigger World War Jomo Kwame Sundaram and Vladimir Popov

Economic recovery efforts since the 2008-2009 global financial crisis have mainly depended on unconventional monetary policies. As fears rise of yet another international financial crisis, there are growing concerns about the increased possibility of large-scale military conflict. More worryingly, in the current political landscape, prolonged economic crisis, combined with rising economic inequality, chauvinistic ethno-populism as well as aggressive jingoist rhetoric, including threats, could easily spin out of control and ‘morph' into military conflict, and worse, world war. Crisis responses limited The 2008-2009 global financial crisis almost ‘bankrupted' governments and caused systemic collapse. Policymakers managed to pull the world economy from…

Ethics for Artificial Intelligence Jomo Kwame Sundaram and Rosli Omar

Owing to our varied circumstances and experiences, there are contradictory tendencies to either exaggerate or underestimate the power and importance of artificial intelligence (AI) in contemporary society. Nor should we uncritically legitimize everything AI can be used for, even if it has been hailed as the main frontier of the Davos-proclaimed Fourth Industrial Revolution. AI, more than other elements of Industry 4.0, is transforming humanity's understanding of ourselves in novel ways the world has neither experienced nor conceived. AI unfettered The AI market is already huge but still growing fast. The expertise needed is said to be growing ‘exponentially'. In…

Rethinking Free Trade Agreements in Uncertain Times Jomo Kwame Sundaram

After US President Donald Trump withdrew from Obama's Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), involving twelve countries on the Pacific rim, on his first day in office, Japan, Australia and their closest allies proposed and promoted the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) to draw the US back into the region to counter China's fast-growing power and influence. Geostrategic deal to re-engage US in East Asia The modest projected gains claimed by the most popularly used trade models are based on dubious methodologies. President Obama had explicitly promoted the TPP for geostrategic reasons even though both US government cost-benefit analyses found very modest…