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Prime, Policy Research in Macroeconomics

Lending and Profiteering – Lessons from Argentina’s Recent Debt Problems

Over 30 years ago, Kunibert Raffer (University of Vienna) was first to propose a fair and transparent arbitration process between debtors and creditors for resolving sovereign insolvency, by analogy with Chapter 9 US Bankruptcy Code that provides for an orderly resolution in cases of municipal bankruptcy. (See his paper “What’s good for the United States must be good for the World – Advocating an International Chapter 9 Insolvency”). He is a long-standing critic of the IMF in its lending...

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The conferment of an honorary doctorate at Helsinki University: my speech.

This is a speech delivered to the staff of the University of Helsinki, and to hundreds of students awarded masters’ and doctorate degrees, on the auspicious day of 22nd May, 2022. One of the requirements of the conferment committee was that all speeches should include another language. I therefore began mine in Afrikaans. After the pause below, I summarise the content of the opening paragraphs, so bear with me… Ek wil net kortliks sê dit is n baie lang pad van die klein dorpie,...

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The UK’s public spending led recovery – before the cost-of-living deluge strikes

In this article I look mainly at the UK’s GDP position. While the ONS first estimate for Q1 2022 shows that it is now 0.6% higher than the pre-pandemic peak in Q3 of 2019, this is entirely down to increased government consumption and investment, mainly health-related. But for this real-terms increase, the economy (measured in GDP) would be some 2% smaller now, even before the cost-of-living crisis hits us fully, and before government and Bank of England tighten fiscal and monetary policy...

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A War No One Can Win – Ukraine and the Weaponisation of Everything

This article first appeared in the Indian journal Economic and Political Weekly on 19 March 2022. Russian Invasion of Ukraine The Russian invasion of Ukraine started on 24 February 2022. Since then, several thousand combatants from both sides and more than 500 Ukrainian civilians have died, bombs have ruined many cities, and more than two million Ukrainians, half of them children, left the country to become refugees. And the sweeping sanctions the West imposed on Russia in response not only...

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Rentier capitalism is profoundly risk-averse

The following article is based on my speech notes for a presentation to University College London’s Global Business School for Health on 22nd February 2022. The webinar was titled: Health Innovation through Capital and Private Equity Markets webinar. The question panellists were asked to address was this: “….whether capital and private equity markets are actually driving forward better and sustainable health innovation?” I argued that private capital and private equity markets – far from...

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Inflation and pay – Doing the wrong Something

Many years ago, on family holiday in Wales, a problem arose when my father tried to turn our car and caravan around in an urban street.  A man noted generally for his calmness, Dad had got out and started looking at whatever the problem was.  My brother and I (ages 14 and 12) stayed in the back seat chatting away inconsequentially but, it seems, annoyingly.   Suddenly, Dad’s patience broke – “GET OUT AND DO SOMETHING!” he boomed.  Unaccustomed to such temper-induced imperatives, we leapt out...

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(How far) has Brexit affected UK GDP?

It looks as if the UK’s GDP will have risen by a little over 7% in 2021, after a fall now estimated at 9.4% in 2020. (We await the Q4 data).  It seems that – despite stronger November data – GDP in 2021 will come in below that of 2019, and maybe a tad less than 2018.  Clearly COVID has played a major part, but is there also evidence of Brexit-induced slowdown in the mix? The “Conservative Home” website (among so many other right-wing propaganda outlets) tries hard to keep spirits up and the...

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PRIME’s 2022 forecast

Each year the Financial Times invites economists to answer an economic survey for the British economy. This is PRIME’s submission. 1. UK economy Will the UK economy outpace or lag behind other developed economies in 2022 and why? UK trade performance on imports and exports has been among the worst of all OECD economies, with Brexit exacerbating the pandemic. This significant fall in total trade (compared to 2018) is an outcome, or consequence, of weak economic activity at home. Flat...

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Climate crisis, global debt, and the Fermi paradox – a proposal to the IMF

This article first appeared in the Indian journal Economic and Political Weekly on 13 November, 2021. Fermi Paradox In a recent article, Yıldızoğlu (2021) reminded us of the Fermi Paradox, which can be summarised as: Although the probability of the existence of other forms of life in the universe is sufficiently high, why have we not met any? Enrico Fermi, the Italian–American physicist and the creator of the world’s first nuclear reactor, was probably not the first person who asked: “but...

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From Universal Basic Services to the Social Guarantee

The Social Guarantee (SG) is an initiative hosted by PRIME to stimulate wider interest in Universal Basic Services (UBS) as a framework for policy and practice, to ensure that everyone has access to life’s essentials. Since our last update in February, the SG team has been busy working towards three strategic goals: to get the Social Guarantee on the agenda through public and political debate, to create alliances and networks, and to build knowledge through research. Framing the Social...

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