Just three decades ago, billions of people around the world were stuck in a trap. Faced with low incomes on the one hand and exploitative loan sharks the other, they could neither save for the future nor purchase the capital required to generate a living. This changed with the pioneering work of Mohammad Yunus in Bangladesh, and with the establishment of the Grameen Bank in 1983, microfinance was born.
The current wave of new conservatives, that have become the prominent voice of the right-wing in America, carry with them a great ideological passion. These conservatives have been vocal supporters of many policies that are often congruent with the neo-liberal viewpoint. Such policies include a laissez-faire economic approach and small government; both of which are aligned with the economic rationalist approach. They have also ardently maintained their pro-family, pro-community rhetoric in a time when they say these values are being tossed aside by an increasingly liberalised America.
“It is well that the people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning”
– Henry Ford, American Industrialist.
It is now 5 years into the US recovery after the severe recession of 2008-9, unemployment has fallen to 6.7% and quarterly GDP growth remains between 1-2%. At first glance the recovery finally appears to be picking up momentum, with stronger then expected growth in the last half of 2013.
Looking at the longer term trends however, any optimism is quickly expunged as it appears the US is performing far below its potential. The IMF outlook for 2013 shows actual GDP to be more than 4% below potential GDP.
The past two and a half centuries have witnessed the largest and most spectacular increase in human wellbeing in history. Economies accounting for the majority of the world’s population have grown exponentially, supporting rapid population expansions while raising material living standards. At the same time, life expectancy in most parts of the world has soared. A child born in sub-Saharan Africa today is more likely to live to the age of five than a child born in the UK just a century ago.
Angus Deaton, an economist at Princeton, gives a broad overview of both of these dimensions of progress, telling the intertwined stories of the economic and medical progress that have shaped the modern world. His thesis is largely positive: mankind has made significant progress raising its wellbeing.
Dubbed ‘the sovereign debt trial of the century’, NML v. Argentina saw notorious ‘vulture fund’ Elliot Capital Management face off against ‘rogue debtor’ Argentina. The decades-long case concerned the restructure of more than US$82 billion of debt that fell due during Argentina’s economic crisis of 2001.The debt restructure that followed has been the most acrimonious in recent history.