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Debunking the Relevance of the Debt-to-GDP Ratio
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Arturo C. Porzecanski, World Economics, March 2018
Historical experience does not confirm the simplistic notion that the heavier the burden of the public debt relative to GDP, the greater is the risk that governments will encounter debt-servicing difficulties. In 25 government defaults that occurred during 1998-2017, the pre-default debt-to-GDP ratios ranged from a very low of 27% (Ecuador in 2008) to a very high of 236% (Nicaragua in 2003), with a sample median of 79%. As ratios of government debt rise, some societies manage to deliver more responsible fiscal behaviour. Low debt ratios, on the other hand, often mask dangerous currency or maturity mismatches, as well as contingent liabilities, capable of suddenly impairing banks and governments. The demand for government bonds can behave unpredictably, and governments with low or high debt ratios can suddenly find themselves cut off from needed financing. Official institutions like the IMF, European Commission, and World Bank have done themselves and their member states a great disfavour by obsessing about debt ratios which do not predict fiscal outcomes.
Measuring Natural Capital
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Dariana Tani, World Economics, December 2014
The purpose of this paper is to highlight the importance of establishing a system of natural capital accounting. Natural capital is integral to the economy and yet it is routinely taken for granted because the goods and services it provides are generally freely available. The consequence is that without prices, these resources are not being allocated efficiently within the economy and opportunities for significant gains in well-being and the possibility of long-term future growth are being lost. Recent works by the World Bank and the Inclusive Wealth Report have provided a wealth accounting framework, which gives more emphasis to environmental assets; however, due to data and methodological limitations, they inevitably failed to capture all assets of natural capital as defined by the Natural Capital Committee’s (NCC) State of Natural Capital Report.
Wealth and Population Data in Africa
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Brian Sturgess, World Economics, June 2012
There are very good grounds for challenging much of the conventionally accepted UN and World Bank economic data relating to both the absolute and relative per capita income of many African countries and to their growth rates over time. A recent paper by Morton Jerven published in World Economics demonstrated the unreliability of much if not most African GDP data and a new paper published in this issue by Deborah Potts challenges the accuracy of African population estimates"
Counting the Bottom Billion
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Morten Jerven, World Economics, December 2011
What do the statistics from the international databases tell us about income and growth in Sub-Saharan Africa? Less than we would like to think. The article takes a starting point in per capita GDP estimates in Africa. Recently, Ghana announced a revision of its GDP statistics, increasing its national income estimates by over 60%. This article shows that similar revisions are to be expected in other countries. Many statistical offices are currently using outdated data and methods. It is argued that with the current uneven application of methods and poor availability of data, any ranking of African economies according to GDP levels is misleading. It is argued that the World Bank, prominent among data disseminators, is currently not providing the necessary information to complement its datasets, and that this shortcoming misleads data users.
International Comparisons of GDP
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Ian Castles & David Henderson, World Economics, March 2005
When it comes to making international comparisons of real GDP, different views, conventions and practices are still in evidence. The authors set out the case for using purchasing power parity (PPP) converters for this purpose, rather than conversions based on exchange rates, and give reasons for rejecting various arguments that are still widely made to the contrary. In doing so, they provide instances of the differing current practices of international agencies, and argue the case for greater uniformity and consistency on their part. They make a number of suggestions, general and specific, for improving the quality and presentation of cross-country comparative data.
Reply to Professor Zimmermann
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Giles Atkinson, World Economics, September 2000
Giles Atkinson replies to Professor Zimmermann’s "A Multi-coloured GDP -or No New GDP at All?"[World Economics, Vol 1 No 3 July-September 2000]
A Multi-coloured GDP -or No New GDP at All?
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Horst Zimmermann, World Economics, September 2000
This is a reply to Giles Atkinson’s article ‘Re-thinking Economic Progress’ that appeared in the first issue of World Economics (Vol. 1, No. 1, January – March 2000). Atkinson discussed proposals for the construction of ‘green’ alternatives to Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In the same issue, Amanda Rowlatt in her article ‘Extending the UK National Accounts’, discussed the role of ‘satellite accounts’, including measures of effects on the environment. Professor Zimmermann’s contention is that the concept of a ‘green GDP’ would lead to a one-sided measure which cannot be used for the many purposes for which normal GDP as a comprehensive measure can be used. A GDP corrected for depletion of environmental stocks would have to be supplemented by one corrected for changes in human capital, another one dealing with health capital, etc. Completing the set leads to the older concept of Net Economic Welfare or something similar. Only this would again be a comprehensive measure and could replace GDP.
Re-thinking Economic Progress
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Giles Atkinson, World Economics, March 2000
Most national governments have pledged a commitment to sustainable development. The transformation of these pledges into policy is a formidable challenge. Of particular interest are proposals for the construction of green alternatives to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which it is hoped will provide policy-makers with a consistent and summary signal of "true" trends in the economy both now and into the future. This paper reviews the green accounting debate over the past decade. the author argues that, while initial expectations have, at times, been overstated, there are encouraging signs for policy-makers attempting to make sense of their commitments to sustainable development. One such indication is the increasing emphasis on improved measures of saving, providing a better link between actions in the present and their implications for the future.


The Black Economy - Benefit frauds or tax evaders?
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Jim Thomas, World Economics, March 2000
One answer to the question "How Rich are We?" is to compare levels of National Income either across countries or for a single country over time. However, the relevance of this approach depends on how accurately National Income measures the output of goods and services of a country. While it is difficult to measure, the Black Economy represents the output of goods and services that is not generally captured in the National Income Accounts. This article discusses the problems of measuring the size of the Black Economy and speculates on the questions of who is involved and how. The relative importance of Tax Evasion versus Benefit Fraud is discussed.


False Perspective: The UNDP View of the World
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David Henderson, World Economics, March 2000
Despite some searching and unanswered criticisms of its treatment of statistical evidence, the UNDP Human Development Report has become established as a widely-quoted and influential survey of the world scene. The 1999 Report, reviewed here, focuses on ‘globalization’. This is described as a dominant influence on the recent economic fortunes of developing countries in particular, and as a primary cause of continuing poverty and growing inequality in the world. The author argues that the Report provides neither argument nor evidence in support of this thesis; that it takes no account of other factors that have strongly influenced economic performance; that its main prescription for the world, of reforms in ‘global governance’, is largely beside the point; and that its whole approach is crudely anti-liberal. The author concludes by placing the Report, as also the economists who have aligned themselves with it, in the wider context of anti-liberalism today.



Displaying: 1-10 of 10