There is a curious phenomenon that economists call the resource curse - so named because, on average, countries with large endowments of natural resources perform worse than countries that are less well endowed. Yet some countries with abundant natural resources do perform better than others, and some have done well. Why is the spell of the resource curse cast so unequally?
Thirty years ago, Indonesia and Nigeria - both dependent on oil - had comparable per capita incomes. Today, Indonesia's per capita income is four times that of Nigeria. Indeed, Nigeria's per capita income (as measured in constant dollars circa 1995) has fallen.
A similar pattern holds true in Sierra Leone and Botswana. Both are rich in diamonds. Yet Botswana averaged 8.7% annual economic growth over the past thirty years, while Sierra Leone plunged into civil strife. The failures in the oil-rich Middle East are legion.
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Across the European Union, millions of people who are willing and able to work have been unemployed for a year or longer, at great cost to social cohesion and political stability. If the EU is serious about stopping the rise of populism, it will need to do more to ensure that labor markets are working for everyone.
In a time of global uncertainty, a vision of “made in the Americas” prosperity provides a unifying agenda for the continent. If implemented, the US could reassert its historical leadership among a group of countries that share its fundamental values, as well as an interest in inclusive economic growth and rising living standards.
During a time of American waywardness under Donald Trump, the United Kingdom's national security has increasingly come to depend on the European Union as a buffer against Russian revanchism. Ironically, then, the safest form of Brexit might be the one that hurts the most, so long as it leaves behind a stable EU.
Standard economic theory says that net inward migration, like free trade, benefits the native population after a lag. But recent research has poked large holes in that argument, while the social and political consequences of open national borders similarly suggest the appropriateness of immigration limits.
Clearly, there is something appealing about a start-up-based innovation strategy: it feels democratic, accessible, and so California. But it is definitely not the only way to boost research and development, or even the main way, and it is certainly not the way most major innovations in the US came about during the twentieth century.
With the withdrawal of the Free Democrats from coalition talks, Chancellor Angela Merkel could be forced to form a minority government. That would not necessarily be a bad thing; in fact, a Merkel who can be called to account by the Bundestag may be the best alternative Germany has.
In the first 11 months of his presidency, Donald Trump has failed to back up his words – or tweets – with action on a variety of fronts. But the rest of the world's governments, and particularly those in Asia and Europe, would be mistaken to assume that he won't follow through on his promised "America First" trade agenda.