Charter cities

The same Cities edition that my paper on Tokyo is in (December 2022) runs a short article by Matthew McCartney, a senior researcher at the Charter Cities Institute, and former SOAS professor.

Entitled “Paul Romer, charter cities and lessons from historical big infrastructure?”, the paper cites two “forgotten” case studies of charter cities, i.e., the Panama and Suez Canals. They both had charters and saw large cities grow within their chartered territory.

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Hotels that stay

I am not sure how many hotels I have stayed at in my life, My memory can take me back to most of them if I try hard, and they include backpacker lodges from a trip in Southeast Asia more than 20 years ago, run-down joints in Central Asia, faceless motels in the US (and now Australia and New Zealand), and posh business establishments when traveling on work to many different countries — the list is long and varied.

However, few of these places have left a lasting impression, and I wouldn’t be able to conjure up specific reasons to visit them again today. While there was serendipity involved in choosing many of them (especially in the pre-internet booking and review-obsession days), there was not to be a shared history between the hotel and my life, or that of my family, which is only logical given hotels’ transitory role in our lives.

That is… except for those that I have listed below — special places with autobiographical meaning. Continue reading


It’s almost been a year that we have moved down under from Thailand. Moving countries doesn’t get easier the more one does it (I find, at least), but now it seems more and more to me that we’ve “arrived” here. Continue reading

FX liquidity situation in Bangladesh

For record keeping, here the abstract of a short piece I wrote on Bangladesh for my day job: “The FX liquidity of Bangladesh’s banking sector has been deteriorating significantly recently. Apart from sector-wide data and anecdotal evidence, the exposure of individual banks can be estimated by weighing the relative mix of the various constituents of the banks’ FX businesses (import, export, remittances). A challenging macroeconomic outlook is set to put further pressure on the banks’ FX position going forward.”

Urban indicators of living standards

I have decided to distil one more article out of my dissertation and then call it quits. I want to focus on the measurement of urban living standards and the “civil minimum” as well as other innovations carried out by TMG in the late 1960s and early 1970s chiefly under the Minobe administration. Continue reading

Wrapping up the publications

With my piece on the 1967 Robson Report forthcoming, I am nearing the final stretches of publishing the research of my dissertation in peer-reviewed journals. Finishing my PhD in three years from 2015-18, I wasn’t able to do it while engaged in my doctoral research. This was fortuitous in hindsight (I am biased of course) as it kept me from being distracted by the vagaries of scientific publishing. It would have made both processes–the publishing and the research–longer and altered the final product significantly.   Continue reading