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A brief history of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences

The 2013 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences was announced on October 15 and won by a trio of financial economists: Eugene Fama, Robert Shiller and Lars Peter Hansen. Fama is the mastermind behind the ‘efficient-market hypothesis’, which will be familiar to all who have taken at least a first-year finance subject, whilst Shiller is a primary critic of the hypothesis and instead espouses the idea of ‘irrational exuberance’ in markets (read: stock markets are generally overvalued as investors underestimate the risk of incurring a loss).

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AusAID: why Australia and the world’s poorest need it

On September 18 Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced the government’s decision to effectively abolish AusAID by integrating it into the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). He cited ‘confused responsibilities, duplication and waste’ as reasons for the merger, and suggested that now the ‘aid and diplomatic arms of Australia’s international policy agenda are to be more closely aligned’. The decision elicited a concerned response from NGOs and others involved in the aid sector, who defend the existence of AusAID on the grounds that foreign policy and development issues are not the same thing, and should not be treated as such.

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Replacing Bernanke: who should be next head of the Federal Reserve?

Note: This article was written before the recent changes in candidacy. Nevertheless, it provides a valuable analysis of important factors to consider when evaluating candidates’ credentials.
On September 15 Lawrence Summers unexpectedly withdrew as a candidate for the next Federal Reserve chairman. His letter to Barack Obama stated, ‘I have reluctantly concluded that any possible confirmation process for me would be acrimonious and would not serve the interests of the Federal Reserve, the Administration, or ultimately, the interests of the nation’s ongoing economic recovery.’ Janet Yellen now faces competition from new candidate Donald Kohn or, some have speculated, an as-yet unnamed economist.
Whether you love or loathe him, there is no question that Ben Bernanke in his last eight years as chairman of the United States Federal Reserve has had his work cut out for him.

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Bangladesh field trip – Part Two

This article is a follow up to my first report on my honours field-trip to Bangladesh (available here if you haven’t yet read it). Within this piece I’ll outline my second week in the country, which thankfully wasn’t affected by the hartels (political strikes) which prevented us from being able to leave our Dhaka guesthouse in the first week.
Our field trip to Bangladesh happened to coincide with the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which was a definite double edged sword.

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Honours ‘field’ trip: Two weeks in Bangladesh – Part One

My impromptu trip to Bangladesh was borne out of an afternoon meeting with one of my lecturers who mentioned offhand that he was traveling to Bangladesh on the weekend with my honours thesis supervisor. They were going to undertake some fieldwork for their own research on the sex industry in Bangladesh.  I have also chosen to complete my thesis on this subject, so naturally that night I decided that I absolutely had to join them. The opportunity to visit the brothels that I had been doing empirical research on was too good to pass up, and roughly 72 hours later I was on a plane and on my way.

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Is Skywhale an Economic Abomination?

Let’s be honest – the milestone of Canberra’s centenary probably would have gone unnoticed by the majority of Australians if not for the enormously controversial, enormously confusing and just plain enormous hot air balloon that has been created to mark the event. The ‘Skywhale’, commissioned by the ACT government, is the creation of artist, sculptor and former Canberran Patricia Piccinini. Australian media over the past week has been busy engendering a sense of outraged indignation that taxpayers could dare be expected to pay for this giant deformed whale type creature with 10 hanging breast-like formations protruding from its underside. Latest estimates have stated that it will cost the government in the vicinity of $300,000 to present this piece of balloon art to (admittedly) a relatively small proportion of the Australian population.

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North Korea and the Wisdom of Economic Sanctions

International news over the past few weeks has been dominated by the issue of the threat of nuclear strikes from North Korea, directed at both the United States and South Korea. Impetus for these new threats stem mainly from the United States’ success in convincing the United Nations to enforce harsher sanctions against North Korea, following an underground nuclear test carried out in February by the highly secretive nation. The ultimate aim of the sanctions is to suppress the activity of banks and money launderers who are suspected to channel a great deal of money to the regime’s missile and nuclear program.

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