Archive for the ‘Blogs to Read’ Category

What led colonial states to invest much more in some districts than others?

April 19, 2021

Prof Joan Ricart-Huguet of Loyola University Maryland in this article tries to answer the colonial question:

What led colonial states to invest much more in some districts than others? This study shows that natural harbors and capes led some places to become centers of pre-colonial trade. These areas, in turn, attracted the lion’s share of colonial public investments not only in infrastructure but also in health and education. Public investments were considerably lower in places further away from the centers of pre-colonial trade.


Bank of England Museum Blog

March 23, 2021

Bank of England’s museum started a blog on 19-Feb-2021:

Our new blog explores our history and interesting objects from our collections. These informal posts takes you behind the scenes of our museum.

First post argued why BoE was formed:


Limiting Central Banking

March 2, 2021

From Moneyandbanking blog

Since 2007, and especially over the past year, actions of public officials have blurred the lines between monetary and fiscal policy almost beyond recognition. Central banks have expanded both the scope and scale of their interventions in unprecedented fashion. This fiscalization risks central bank independence, thereby weakening policymakers’ ability to deliver on their mandates for price and financial stability. In our view, to find a way to back to the pre-2008 division of responsibilities, officials must establish clearer limits on what central banks can and cannot do.


So, what should central banks do and not do?

First, it is fiscal authorities that ought to make the unavoidably political choices that directly influence resource allocation. Governments already have a myriad of institutions that do so. For example, the United States has government loan guarantee programs for housing, farm, small business, and student loans. Unelected central bankers should not control the scale and mix of programs like these. And governments should not conceal such fiscal actions on the balance sheet of the central bank. In a democracy, doing so lacks legitimacy and would become unsustainable.

As Paul Tucker notes in his excellent book, Unelected Power, legitimacy requires that appointed technocrats not engage in activities that primarily address the distribution of resources within a society (see here). Tucker also highlights the need to concentrate central bank authority where (as a result of the problem of time consistency) only they can achieve policy success at relatively low cost. This means restoring (as soon as possible) the focus on the traditional goals of price and financial stability.

At this stage, to ensure that central banks can do what they are designed to do well, we need to impose clear boundaries on the scope of what they are authorized to do, limiting both what they can buy outright and to whom they can lend. Doing this requires a fine balance, as we need to make sure that policymakers can still aid in a crisis. But, it should not be easy for policymakers to evade the restrictions. Most of all, we need a system in which central bankers are not left feeling that they are the only game in town, so that when monetary policy hits the limits of its effectiveness, they are not obliged to act in quasi-fiscal ways that threaten their legitimacy.

In this (and in other ways), to be successful, their discretion must be constrained.

Negotiating Bank of England’s nationalisation

March 1, 2021

1 March 2021 marks 75 years of natioanlisation of BoE.

Austen Saunders writes a post in Bankunderground blog:

1 March 2021 was the 75th anniversary of the Bank of England’s nationalisation. While its stock formerly passed into public ownership in 1946, Lord Catto (the Governor) and Hugh Dalton (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had negotiated the terms of the Bank’s nationalisation the summer before. During these negotiations Catto lobbied for the Bank not to be given more powers to regulate banks. Why? The answer hinges on how the Bank understood its role. And it helps explain why, as David Kynaston sees it, the Bank and the government ‘missed a historic opportunity’ to comprehensively redefine the Bank’s responsibilities.

This was different from RBI’s nationalisation in Jan-1949 followed by Bank Regulation Act in Mar-1949.

How to Regulate a Railroad: Evolution of views

February 12, 2021

Insightful post by Prof Timothy Taylor on his Conversable Economist blog:

The economics of railroads poses some problems for economists. What combination of competition and regulation will keep prices low but also encourage ongoing investment in track and rolling stock? Russell Pittman provides an overview of these issues and the various regulatory responses that have been tried to address the dangers of monopolistic pricing on one side and of competition leading to repeated bankruptcies on the other side in “On the Economics of Restructuring World Railways, with a Focus on Russia” (January 2021, US Department of Justice, Economic Analysis Group Working Paper 21-1). A version of this paper is also published in Man and the Economy (December 2020, 7:2, subscription required). The paper was originally delivered as a lecture at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, which is the reason for some emphasis on Russia’s experience, but the discussion ranges broadly across the topic and international experience. 

Pittman’s quick overview of the problems of competition in railroads–which are in a broad sense similar to the problems of competition in other network industries including electricity, phone service, and airlines–may be useful in setting the stage. The standard views of economists and policy-makers have shifted over time.

Top 15 Indian Economy Blogs And Websites To Follow in 2021

January 18, 2021

Do follow the list 🙂


Historical Echoes: Santa Claus as Legal Tender

December 24, 2020

NY Fed’s Liberty Street Economics Blog posted this in 2014:

From 1793 until 1861, when the U. S. Treasury Department was given exclusive rights to produce legal tender, thousands of different styles of bank notes were created by U.S. banks. The banks all based their currencies on standardized units, but in most every other way the notes differed wildly—colorful versus monochromatic, and graphics ranging from stock images to almost any concept one could imagine.

During the unregulated 19th century, a variety of banks issued their own holiday-themed currency. One popular figure featured on many bills was Santa Claus. Christmas was declared an official holiday in many northern states in the mid-1800s, and some banks celebrated by creating Santa Claus currency. This was a very popular time for Santa in the United States, spurred on by the publication of “A Visit from St. Nicholas” by Clement Clarke Moore in 1823.

The Santa Claus bank notes became very popular as keepsakes, because denominations were typically small and the subject was at the forefront of peoples’ minds given the brand-new official holiday. One motivation for the banks to release these and other collectible currencies was to dissuade people from redeeming the bills for their underlying gold value. Among the banks to issue Santa Claus money was the Howard Banking Company of Boston, Massachusetts, which issued such a bank note in the 1850s. This $5 bill featured Santa Claus wearing a tricorne hat and riding his sled along a roof, led by a herd of reindeer.

Sadly, banks stopped releasing Santa Claus currency once the U.S. Treasury took over the production of legal tender. After that point, these currencies became known as obsolete bank notes and lost all value outside of their worth as collectibles. Fortunately, the spirit of Santa Claus lives on even if his visage on currency has disappeared. Happy Holidays!

Happy X-mas wishes to all..

The Coase Theorem at 60: A Process of Becoming

December 16, 2020

Prof Timothy Taylor in this post writes on the Coase Theorem at 60.

Steven Medema know more about the history of the Coase theorem than many of us know about our spouses. So whether you are distantly or intimately familiar with the idea, you are likely to pick up some insights in his article, “The Coase Theorem at Sixty” (Journal of Economic Literature, 2020, 58:4, pp. 1045-1128, subscription required).

In the 1960 article by Ronald Coase, “The Problem of Social Cost,” the Coase “theorem” was not actually a theorem, nor does it seem to be the main point of the entirely verbal essay.  Coase was working on various questions of regulatory economics, which might be summarized as the question of the appropriate government reaction in situations where market don’t perform well. For example, it had been recognized since the 1920s and the work of A.C. Pigou that some economics activities might involve “externalities,” where social costs were imposed on others who were not part of the market transaction. Pollution is an obvious example. The common policy prescription was that the government should estimate the value of this additional social cost, and then impose a “Pigovian tax” so that the firm producing the externality would face the actual social cost of its action–in effect, it would no longer be able to dump its pollution garbage into the environment for free. 


Medema describes in detail the unfolding of the Coase result over time, as the issues of potential problems, involved parties, information, and incentives have been explored in many contexts–including contexts outside of economics. Here, I’ll close with Medema’s overall summary of this process. 

The Coase theorem is, by any number of measures, one of the most curious results in the history of economic ideas. Its development has been shrouded in misremembrances, political controversies, and all manner of personal and communal confusions and serves as an exemplar of the messy process by which new ideas become scientific knowledge. There is no unique statement of the Coase theorem; there are literally dozens of different statements of it, many of which are inconsistent with others and appear to mark significant departures from what Coase had argued in 1960. …

The theorem has never been given a generally accepted formal proof; yet it has been the subject of scores of attempts  to “disprove” it in a stream of analysis and debate that continues to this day. It has been labeled a “tautology” and the “Say’s law of welfare economics” (Calabresi 1968, pp. 68, 73), an “illuminating falsehood” (Cooter 1982, p. 28), and even a “religious precept” (Posin 1993, p. 810). Halpin (2007, p. 339) calls the theorem “theoretically degenerate … and ideologically charged.” Usher (1998, p. 3) bundles these various charges together, claiming that the theorem is ”tautological, incoherent, or wrong,” with the specific verdict resting upon to which version of the theorem one subscribes.  … 

The nature of the theorem’s underlying assumptions is often said to make its domain of direct applicability nil; yet, it has been invoked, criticized, and applied to legal-economic policy issues in thousands of journal articles and books in economics and law … as well as in journals spanning fields from philosophy (Hale 2008) to literature (Minda 2001) to biology (Frech 1973a). Indeed, the Coase theorem may be the only economic concept the use of which is more extensive outside of economics than within it.

Don’t take it for granted: the value of high-quality data and statistics for the ECB’s policymaking

October 23, 2020

On 20 October 2020, UN Statistical Division started to celebrate World Statistics Day every 5 years.

Thus, 20 Oct 2020 becomes the third such day.

Isabel Schnabel of the ECB writes a blogpost on the occasion. She says we take good quality stats as granted. However, it requires tremendous effort and governance to produce good quality data. ECB is central to this data process in Euroarea countries:


Are digital currencies token based or accounts base currencies?

August 20, 2020

In Account based currencies, one tries to verify the identity of the payer. In token based one is trying to identify the currency with which the transaction is based. All the banknotes and coins are token based whereas UP transactions are accounts based.

Bitcoin fits the definition of an account-based system. The account is a Bitcoin address, and the private key is the proof of identity needed to transact from that account. Every time a Bitcoin user wants to spend Bitcoin, that user must verify their identity by using their private key. It is not relevant whether the system requires users to reveal their true identity. Rather, what matters is whether a user must follow a process the system has developed for verifying the identity that they established within the system, whatever that may be. Analogously, a bank that wants to move funds through the Fedwire Funds Service has to comply with the Reserve Banks’ security procedures, which includes a set of access control features.

Bitcoin also fits the definition of a token-based system. When someone wants to spend a Bitcoin, the protocol verifies its validity by tracing its history. The current transaction history is used to verify the validity of the “object” being transferred, as other token-based systems also do. With Bitcoin, the object is a UTXO, which is only valid if it has not already been spent. With cash, the object is a note, which is only valid if it is a genuinely issued from the central bank.

One important difference between Bitcoin and a physical payment object, such as a dollar bill or a gold coin, is whether the payee can ascertain the unit’s validity with reasonably high confidence. For example, dollar bills have security features, which are easy to identify and difficult to counterfeit. In the case of a digital currency, it is not possible for the payee to ascertain the authenticity of the digital payment instrument independently..

JP Koning in his super blog thinks bitcoin is just account based:

A token is an object. And objects can be counterfeited. That’s why when Alice pays Bob a $20 note, Bob is responsible for carefully checking it.

Account-based systems don’t suffer from counterfeiting problems. It’s impossible for a Alice to pay Bob with fake dollars from her Wells Fargo account. Wells Fargo dollars aren’t independent objects in the same way that banknotes are. They are entries in a well-secured database. The same goes for bitcoins. There is no way for Alice to make a fake bitcoin entry and send it to Bob.

In addition to counterfeitability, I’d argue that another key feature of a token is that it can be lost by one person, found by another, and then reused for payment. If Bob loses either his $20 banknote or his gold Krugerrand, Alice can find them and spend them.

But account-based systems don’t have this feature. Wells Fargo dollars are database entries. It’d be impossible for Alice to lose a Wells Fargo database entry or Bob to find one and reuse it. And the same goes for bitcoins. Alice can’t lose 0.2234 bitcoins, nor can Bob find Alice’s 0.2234 bitcoins.

Interesting discussion..

Why central banks need to think historically

July 31, 2020

Austen Saunders of Bank of England has a nice post on the Bank Underground blog (HT: Good friend Bhanu Pratap)

Central banks want to learn from history. They can do so by drawing on decades of work by economic historians, as well as their own archives which manifest layers of institutional memory. But the path from page to policy can be difficult to find. Central banks need therefore to invest in the capacity of their own staff to think historically. This will help them use evidence from the past to make better decisions in the future. In practice, this means producing historical research as well as consuming it. Institutions like central banks need to be fluent participants in the conversations which bridge the distance between past and present.


The past is not enough. Economic history is a complement, not a substitute, for unhistoricised, theoretical and empirical approaches. But is distinct from them because it does different things. Quantitative research can reap important insights from historical data but, where relationships are not stable and patterns in the data changeable, the data must be approached with an historical mindset. Otherwise it will be forced into a straight-jacket which might be quantitatively robust, but which ignores the movement over time and the specificity of all historical moments which gives the past meaning. These are the details which cannot be assumed away, but must be carefully attended to if the past is to speak to the present.

Future of history?

What is the future of the past? If central banks are to benefit from the lesson of history, then they need to develop research expertise alongside a sophisticated theory of history which, like all the best theories, will be manifested more in practice than in statement. Staff at central banks (both those with and without formal historical training) should therefore have opportunities to pursue historically informed research projects. Doing is always the best way of learning, and thinking through historical problems which are relevant to contemporary objectives is the best way for supervisors, analysts, and researchers to acquire an historical mindset. For the same reasons, it is desirable that training programmes and curricula for qualifications include exercises in historical analysis.

Meanwhile senior policy makers need to know when they should be thinking about problems historically by analysing parallel, contrasting, and connected episodes from the past. These might mean formally incorporating historical analysis into decision making processes. Most importantly, policy makers should know what questions to ask of those who bring them historically informed insights. No-one charged with setting interest rates would ignore the quantitative analysis of the current state of the economy they were offered. But nor would they accept it unquestioningly. They would probe and question and form their own judgements. The same should be true of historical analysis.

In time, central banks should learn to think about doing history in the same way that they think of their other research: an ambiguous but essential guide to the future.

The illegitimate central bank: Resever Bank of NZ ?!

July 30, 2020

Michael Reddell, a long critique of the central bank most of us admire has another damning piece on RBNZ.

He goes on to term the central bank as illegitimate…

Plague, prorogation and the suspension of the courts in fifteenth-century England

July 9, 2020

Fascinating post by  Dr Simon Payling on History of Parliament Blog:

On Wednesday 6 June 1464, at the beginning of Trinity term, a small piece of theatre was played out in Westminster Hall. Three justices of the court of common pleas ordered everyone present to hear the King’s command. The seal of a royal writ, dated ten days earlier, was then broken and the writ read aloud: the King, absent in the north campaigning against the Lancastrians, had heard of the plague raging in London and Westminster and decided to suspend the court for the whole of Trinity term. This sensible precaution reminds us that, although no visitation of the plague to these shores approached the devastating mortality of the Black Death of 1349, plague remained a recurring and unwelcome visitor into the fifteenth century and beyond. Indeed, over that century, at least ten law terms were lost, in whole or part, to such court suspensions, most notably the successive terms of Easter and Trinity term 1479 when the visitation of the plague to London was particularly severe.


The role of smallpox in the conquest of Mexico by Spain

June 19, 2020

I have known this story of role of Small pox in conquest of Mexico by Spaniards. Jared Diamond in Guns, Germs and Steel discusses this story and have seen in some other books as well,

Anantha Nageswaran points to the extract from the ‘Introduction’ of ‘Plagues and Peoples’ by the late historian William H. McNeill, published in 1976.

The extraordinary story of the conquest of Mexico ( soon to be followed by Pizarro’s no less amazing conquest of the Inca empire in South America) was really only part of a larger puzzle. Relatively few Spaniards ever were able to cross the ocean to the New World, yet they succeeded in impressing  their culture on an enormously larger number of Amerindians. The inherent attraction of European civilization and some undeniable- technical  superiorities the Spaniards had at their command do not seem enough to explain wholesale apostasy from older Indian patterns of life and belief.

Why, for instance, did the old religions of Mexico and Peru disappear so utterly? Why did villagers not remain loyal to deities and rituals that had brought fertility to their fields from time immemorial? The exhortation of Christian missionaries and the intrinsic appeal of Christian faith and worship seem insufficient to explain what happened, even though, in the eyes of the missionaries themselves, the truth of Christianity was SO evident that their success in converting millions of Indians to the faith seemed to need no explanation. 

A casual remark in one of the accounts of Cortez’s conquest-I no longer can tell where I saw it-suggested an answer to such questions, and my new hypothesis gathered plausibility and significance as I mulled it over and reflected on its implications afterward. For on the night when the Aztecs drove Cortez and his men out of Mexico City, killing many of them, an epidemic of smallpox was raging in the city. The man who had organized the assault on the Spaniards was among those who died on that noche trista, as the Spaniards later called it. The paralyzing effect of a lethal epidemic goes far to explain why the Aztecs did not pursue the defeated and demoralized Spaniards, giving them time and opportunity to rest and regroup, gather Indian allies and set siege to the city, and so achieve their eventual victory.

Ananth’s Blog Gold Standard is again on the list of top 100 economics blogs. Congrats Ananth!

Top 100 economics blogs of 2020

June 16, 2020

Intelligent Economist has released its 2020 list of top 100 blogs.

Welcome, and thank you for joining us for the 5th annual Top Economics Blogs list! We are happy, once again, to introduce you to a freshly updated list of economics blogs for 2020. As always, our winners list provides blogs for many different audiences, ranging from the budding economic enthusiast to the seasoned academic. The list also covers a variety of economics topics, whether it be traditional economic theory or the application of economics to current events and issues. In this meticulously curated list, we’ve condensed the most unique elements of each blog into short descriptions, so that you can see which ones catch your eye.

For 2020, a few newcomers have emerged, while many mainstays from 2019 and years before are present as well. Like previous years, we’ve done our best to capture the blogs which stand out for their quality rather than their popularity. As such, the list is an eclectic group that represents a wide range of tastes and perspectives. Regardless of your school of thought or political affiliation, you can find valuable new content in this list of engaging, high-quality economics blogs.

Blogs Added in 2020:

    • Critical Macro Finance
    • The Demand Side
    • Byte Size Story
    • The one-handed economist
    • the Blog Papers of Dr. Michael Sakbani

Special Mention: Over the past year, two Economics bloggers have retired – Professor Dave Giles of Econometrics Beat and Professor Mark Thoma of Economist’s View.

So, without further ado, here are our top 100 economics blogs for 2020, in no particular order.

It is great to see Mostly Economics continue to be a part of the list.  Thanks to all the visitors and well-wishers of this blog.

Bank of England/Financial Times Schools blog competition results: Behavioral economics reaches schools!

May 11, 2020

Bankunderground blog announced the results.

The winner is South Wilts Grammar School. The winners wrote on using behavioral economics to reduce disposable coffee cups.

One sees people carrying their bags in shopping stores to avoid paying extra for the plastic bag at the store. Why don;t we see something similar for coffee at cafes?

To help save the planet and gain a competitive edge, cafes should obey a basic rule of behavioural economics by switching from offering discounts for customers who bring their own cups in favour of charging more for disposable ones.

Consider the astronomical success of the introduction of a 5p charge on plastic bags by British supermarkets. Volumes plummeted by over 86 per cent — an unexpectedly high proportion when the majority of consumers would not even pick up a 5p coin if they saw it lying in the street.

Yet there has been a muted response to the more substantial discounts offered to consumers bringing re-usable cups to cafes for their morning coffee — of up to 50p at Pret A Manger. Up to 55 per cent of shoppers remember to carry their reusable grocery bags to save just 5p, while fewer than 2 per cent of coffee drinkers bring their own cup.

Given that they could save up to ten times as much, why are consumers responding to two seemingly similar scenarios in profoundly different ways? I put it down to the behavioural economics theory of ‘loss aversion’.

Loss aversion arises when the cost associated with giving something up is perceived as greater than the benefit that would accrue from the acquisition of the same thing. This behavioural concept is clearly evident in how consumers react to bringing a re-usable bag or a re-usable cup.

There are many instances in which suppliers offer monetary incentives to promote environmental practices even when it may be significantly more effective to introduce a fine. Just a tweak of policy can often have a disproportionately positive effect.

So to encourage the use of re-usable cups, scrap the discount and introduce a small charge for those who demand disposables. This would play to consumers’ tendency to go to greater lengths to avoid a loss than to seek an equivalent gain.

Starbucks is the first large coffee chain to have rolled out a charge (of 5p) on their paper cups. Given a fantastic consumer response — with three times more people now bringing their own cup — it is baffling why other businesses are not taking the same approach. 

One possibility is that they worry the practice may make them less price competitive: charging 5p for a cup amounts to raising the price of the product for the majority. However, if businesses like Starbucks are transparent about the environmental benefits of the 5p charge, as many supermarkets have been, it could actually increase competitiveness by attracting the rapidly growing number of environmentally conscious consumers. Tackling climate change may begin at the level of the individual. But if businesses can nudge their customers to consume sustainably then by applying behavioural economic theories such as loss aversion, we will have a significantly greater chance of controlling waste before it takes an irreversible toll on the environment.

This is really interesting. Behavioral economics reaches schools!

Notes from an inter-planetary monetary anthropologist

November 25, 2019

Fascinating post from a fascinating monetary economics blogger JP Koning:

My work as an inter-planetary monetary anthropologist has brought me to dozens of different planets to study their monetary systems. The monetary system of the most recent planet that I visited, the planet of Zed in the Xv2 galaxy, falls into the same classification as the systems on Vigil X and Earth (which I last visited in 1998 and, according to other anthropologists, hasn’t changed much).

As on Earth, markets on Zed tend to lie towards the free end of the spectrum. Zedians can own property. And property rights are enforced. Zedians often put their savings in institutions much like banks and earn interest. Banks in turn lend to individuals and business.


How to disguise a really big political lie? Put it on a bus!

November 21, 2019

Simon Wren Lewis on his blog:

The Tories, and particularly their leader, lie all the time. It is quite shameless. But there is a corollary to this. If your whole campaign is based on one big huge lie, make it your main slogan. Because, even today, many voters still think you wouldn’t dare lie about something so important. Unfortunately recent history suggests otherwise.
We all remember the £350 million for the NHS lie in the 2016 referendum. It was famously on a bus. Except it seems that a good part of the voting population has forgotten the reason that slogan is notorious. It was a huge lie, the opposite of the truth. The have forgotten because the Tories have a new bus with a new slogan that a lot of voters appear to believe. In reality it is as big a lie as the one made during the referendum.
Also consider the key Tory slogans in the last two elections. In 2015 it was “Strong Leadership, A Clear Economic Plan And A Brighter, More Secure Future”. Within a year the ‘strong leader’ had resigned, businesses were unable to plan and the UK’s future was anything but secure. In 2017 who could forget “Strong and Stable”. May lasted two years but no one would call those years stable.
In 2019 we have “Get Brexit Done”. I can confidently tell you that this is in the true tradition of the earlier slogans. A more truthful slogan would be “If you liked the last three years of Brexit deadlock, vote Tory”. Here is why.
The Red Bus is part of British identity and what better way to communicate/propaganda than the same bus!

Video Clips of Economists Explaining for Intro Econ Classes

October 17, 2019

Superb Timothy Taylor on his super blog links to these intro econ videos:

I know a number of economics faculty who have been incorporating video clips into their classes. Sometimes it’s part of a lecture presentation. Sometimes it’s for students to watch before class. For intro students in particular, it can be a useful practice because it gives them a sense that they are being introduced to a universe of economists, not just to one professor and a textbook. The faculty member can also react to the video clip, and in this way offer students some encouragement to react and to comment as well–in a way that students might not feel comfortable reacting if they need to confront their own professor.

Amanda Bayer and Judy Chevalier have been compiling a list of video clips that may be useful for the standard intro econ class. It’s available at the Diversifying Economic Quality (“Div.E.Q”) website.  Most are in the range of 3-6 minutes, although a few are longer or shorter. The economists are often talking about their own research, but in a way that the evidence can easily be incorporated into an intro presentation.

For a few examples grabbed from lectures on micro topics. Kathryn Graddy talks about her work studying the Fulton Fish Market in New York City, and how even in a highly competitive and open environment, buyers sometimes pay different prices. (Graddy also wrote an article on this topic in the Spring 2006 issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives.)

Petra Moser discusses her work showing that “copyright protection for 19th century Italian operas led to more and better operas being written, but the evidence also suggests that intellectual property rights may do more harm than good if they are too broad or too long-term.”

Heidi Williams describes new data and empirical methodogies to study and advance technological change in health care markets.

Kerwin Kofi Charles looks at his empirical research on how the extent to which prejudice leads to discrimination in the labor market and  how it may affect wages of black workers. 1

Cecilia Rouse talks about her research on how change in to blind procedures for the musicians auditioning for symphony orchestras led to more women being selected.

In short, the presenters in the video clips are top-quality economists describing their own research, in ways that spark interest among students. In addition, economics has an ongoing issue with attracting women and minorities. This list is heavily tilted toward presentations by economists from those groups, and there’s some evidence that when intro students see economists who look more like them, they may feel more comfortable expressing interest in economics moving forward. 

Should look them up..

Estimating global poverty in R and Stata

October 1, 2019

World Bank has put up the poverty data which can be easily plugged into R and Stata.

WB’s data blog reports:

The World Bank’s global poverty measures published through the PovcalNet website can now be accessed directly from within R and Stata. The R package povcalnetR and the Stata command povcalnet offer the same functionality as the website, namely the estimation of poverty at any poverty line for individual countries, groups of countries, or entire regions. Accessing PovcalNet directly from within R and Stata is a major improvement to the usability of the tool; for example PovcalNet results can be directly merged with any other R/Stata dataset. In this blog, we show how the commands can be downloaded and illustrate their use with an example. We will illustrate the use of the commands with a series of blog posts over the next few weeks. A more detailed description with more examples can be found in the github pages (R and Stata), as well as Castaneda et al. (2019) for the Stata command. We encourage users to send us comments and suggestions, and to report any bugs in the github issues pages (R and Stata).

PovcalNet reports the World Bank’s official global, regional and country-level poverty estimates, as well as a range of inequality statistics. It is managed jointly by the Data and Research Groups within the World Bank’s Development Economics Division, and draws heavily upon a strong collaboration with the Poverty and Equity Global Practice, which is responsible for gathering and harmonizing the underlying household survey data. The website is based on a web API, which was documented in more detail as part of the September 2018 PovcalNet update (see Zhao, 2018). This means that every query to the PovcalNet website (e.g. estimate the poverty headcount ratio at $2 per day in Bangladesh in 2016) generates a URL that returns the results in a machine-readable format. The R and Stata packages query the PovcalNet API and read the results directly into R/Stata.

The R package povcalnetR can be installed from github with

install.packages(c(“devtools”, “httr”))


and will soon be available in CRAN.

The Stata povcalnet command can be installed from SSC by typing:

ssc install povcalnet

The development version, which includes the latest updates and features, can be downloaded from github by using the github Stata command (developed by E. F. Haghish):

net install github, from (“”)

github install worldbank / povcalnet

It is important to understand that PovcalNet reports estimates for two types of years: the survey year, which is the year for which the welfare variable was collected, and the reference year, which is the year for which global poverty estimates are produced. The reference year estimates make additional assumptions to align household surveys, that may be conducted at infrequent intervals, to a common year for which poverty can be estimated for as many countries around the world as possible. Currently, the available reference years are 1981, 1984, 1987, 1990, 1993, 1996, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015. Inequality estimates are only available for the survey-years.

The next line of code queries the global and regional estimates of extreme poverty at the international poverty line of $1.9 per day for all the reference years:

R: df <- povcalnetR::povcalnet_wb()

Stata: povcalnet wb, clear

With a few additional lines of code (R and Stata), the changing geographic distribution of extreme poverty can be easily graphed. In 2015, Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for more than half of the global poor, and together with South Asia for more than 85 percent. It is clear that the reduction in global poverty was driven by rapid progress in East Asia. In recent years, the number of poor has also fallen steadily in South Asia. This stands in sharp contrast with Sub-Saharan Africa, where the total number of poor people has actually been increasing over time. As discussed in this report, this shift in the geography of global poverty from high-growth (East Asia and recently South Asia) to low-growth (Sub-Saharan Africa) regions also implies a likely slowdown in the future reduction of global poverty (see this blog for projections beyond 2015 to 2030).


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