If you could kick out Mubarak, I’m sure that you can do a lot more!

Ha-Joon Chang: In Conversation

The renowned Cambridge Economist, author of the classic work Kicking Away the Ladder: Development Strategy in Historical Perspective was interviewed in May by Serene Richards, a freelance journalist and Universty of London LLM candidate in International Economic Law Justice and Development.

Nestled amongst the leafy streets of Cambridge is the University’s Economics faculty. This, unassuming, 1960s building, plays host to one of the world’s leading development economists: Ha-Joon Chang. An international best selling author, Chang is no stranger to controversy, he is known for his critical analysis of economic orthodoxy and draws upon economic history in much of his work. His most recent book 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism gallantly contributes to the ongoing critique surrounding our global economic system. In 2005 the South Korean born economist was awarded the Wassily Leontief prize for Advancing the Frontier of Economic Thought for his book “Kicking Away the Ladder”. I enter his office, quaint and amassed with books. His manner, affable and upbeat, we begin.

You co-wrote a paper entitled “Industrial Policy and the Role of the State in Egypt” which outlined an alternative development policy, comparing Egypt to the East Asian experience, can you tell us a little about your vision at the time?

“We wrote it in 1995/4, it was a time when they [the IMF] were accelerating liberalization and privatization. We felt that in a relatively closed economy like what Egypt was before, liberalizing and opening can bring some benefits because you have more competition and foreign exchanges and so on. But we were worried that this brought, at best, short-term benefits. You really need a long-term strategy to take your country to another level. Back in the early 60s Korea and Egypt had similar levels of income, two of the poorest countries in the world. Today Egypt still is a poor country, with a per capita income of $2000 compared to South Korea’s $20,000. So, what happened during those 50 years that made such a huge a difference is an important question. Of course, there were problems with the earlier economic strategy under Nasser. In my view, it was too closed – but, liberalising everything without any strategy and privatising, without any clear view of what should be done was not a very promising strategy. Unfortunately we have been proven right in that sense because they’ve done a lot of things since the 90s, but where did it end up?”

Continue reading “If you could kick out Mubarak, I’m sure that you can do a lot more!”

The world’s newest tax haven: the Olympics in East London

Why there are no prosecutions at HSBC bank, a tax justice victory in Norway, new Tax Justice Network research reveals the amount of offshore wealth is higher than anybody thought. And we look at the temporary tax haven of the London Olympics.

All of that and more TaxCast, a monthly broadcast produced by the Tax Justice Network and hosted by Naomi Fowler. Each 15 minute podcast follows the latest news relating to tax evasion, tax avoidance and the shadow banking system. The show features discussions with experts in the field to help analyse the top stories each month.

What would Keynes do?

by John Gray

“I can see us as water-spiders, gracefully skimming, as light and reasonable as air, the surface of the stream without any contact at all with the eddies and currents underneath.”

That was how John Maynard Keynes, speaking in 1938 in a talk later published as his brilliant memoir My Early Beliefs, recalled his younger self and his friends in the Bloomsbury Group as they had been in the years before World War I.

The influential Cambridge economist has figured prominently in the anxious debates that have gone on since the crash of 2007-2008. For most of those invoking his name, he was a kind of social engineer, who urged using the power of government to lift the economy out of the devastating depression of the 30s.

That is how Keynes’s disciples view him today. The fashionable cult of austerity, they warn, has forgotten Keynes’s most important insight – slashing government spending when credit is scarce only plunges the economy into deeper recession.

What is needed now, they believe, is what Keynes urged in the 30s – governments must be ready to borrow more, print more money and invest in public works in order to restart growth.

But would Keynes be today what is described as a Keynesian? Would this supremely subtle and sceptical mind still believe that policies he formulated long ago – which worked well in the decades after the World War II – can solve our problems now?

Continue reading “What would Keynes do?”

June TaxCast

The Tax Justice Network‘s latest TaxCast is out. Hosted  by Naomi Fowler, each 15 minute podcast follows the latest news relating to tax evasion, tax avoidance and the shadow banking system. The show features discussions with experts in the field to help analyse the top stories each month.

In this month’s show: celebrity tax avoidance, Greece’s missing billions, what should have been on the G20 agenda and trade mispricing – the tricks of the corruption trade.

Paul Krugman vs. Austerity and its Supporters

Nobel laureate Paul Krugman takes down a fat cat Tory donor Jon Moulton and a Tory MP Andrea Leadsom on BBC Newsnight, comprehensively demolishing their arguments for austerity and cuts.

May TaxCast

TaxCast is an excellent program produced by the Tax Justice Network and hosted by Naomi Fowler. Each 15 minute podcast follows the latest news relating to tax evasion, tax avoidance and the shadow banking system. The show features discussions with experts in the field to help analyse the top stories each month.

In this month’s TaxCast:  Tax haven insiders speak out, the co-founder of Facebook ‘unfriends’ the US, and Europe considers a Financial Transaction Tax.

Pakistan’s Unplanned Revolution Rewrites Its Future

By Pankaj Mishra

Change Returning last week from an instructive three weeks in Pakistan, I was detained briefly at Islamabad’s chaotic airport after an X-ray machine showed two highly suspicious music CDs and a USB memory stick in my check- in bag.

The music was of Mehdi Hassan, my favorite singer in South Asia, and the USB was part of a PR packet given to me by a Bangkok hotelier. It didn’t matter. For nearly three hours, two men in shalwar kameez — members of one of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies — supervised customs and immigration officials, and even the staff of my Middle Eastern airline, through an extensive scrutiny of my bags and the many visas in my passport.

These plainclothed, thuggish-looking men seemed to confirm the popular Western stereotype of Pakistan’s “deep state,” a vast subterranean network of soldiers, spies, and militants-for- hire that actually runs the country while the state fails to provide health care and education to a largely poor and illiterate population of nearly 190 million.
Continue reading “Pakistan’s Unplanned Revolution Rewrites Its Future”

April TaxCast

Once again, we encourage readers to tune in to this excellent program produced by the Tax Justice Network. Hosted  by Naomi Fowler, each 15 minute podcast follows the latest news relating to tax evasion, tax avoidance and the shadow banking system. The show will feature discussions with experts in the field to help analyse the top stories each month.

In this month’s episode Taxcast looks at Amazon’s tax affairs, the global tax cut race to the  bottom, India tackling tax havens and the miners in Zambia who pay more tax than the multi-national mining company.

On the ‘Keynesian Neoliberalism’ of the New York Times

by Costas Panayotakis

This article first appeared at the NYTimes eXaminer.

One of the regions of the world most severely hit by the current global capitalist crisis is Europe.  The European crisis has been rendered even more severe by a regression to a pre-Keynesian outlook that, as Paul Krugman has pointed out in his New York Times columns, is reminiscent of the outlook of Herbert Hoover and other political leaders in the early stages of the Great Depression. In today’s Europe this regression takes the form of brutal austerity measures that drastically cut government expenditures and attack ordinary workers’ and citizens’ salaries and pensions.  The ostensible purpose of these measures is to reduce government deficit and debt and to alleviate the sovereign debt crisis that is posing a threat to the future of the eurozone and the European project alike.  In fact, however, these measures are proving counterproductive, thus leading to some debate even within the still dominant neoliberal camp.  Against the ‘budget slashing’ neoliberalism favored by Angela Merkel and the European economic and political elites a more subtle ‘Keynesian neo-liberalism’ is making its appearance.

A recent New York Times editorial on the European austerity programs illustrates this alternative approach. The editorial begins by pointing out that two years “of unrelenting fiscal austerity … have brought [Europe] nothing but recession and deepening indebtedness.”  As the editorial explains, this is due to the ‘growth-killing’ effect of ‘spending cuts and tax increases’ at a time of economic crisis.  As the economy shrinks and unemployment soars, the editorial suggests, government tax revenues suffer, making the austerity programs counterproductive even from a narrowly fiscal point of view.

Continue reading “On the ‘Keynesian Neoliberalism’ of the New York Times”

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