Sovereign-bank nexus

Further to my post on debt in South Asia from November last year, I have been thinking more deeply about potential research ideas. I have returned to the “sovereign bank nexus” (SBN) and in particular how it manifests itself in Pakistan.

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Post-political planning

A slow-motion trainwreck has been unfolding on our doorstep here in Balmain, Sydney. We live about a kilometer as the crow flies from one of the world’s biggest infrastructure developments, the WestConnex and its newly opened Rozelle Interchange. WestConnex is a huge underground road network built and operated as a public private partnership (PPP) that has been under planning and construction since the early 2010s.

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European travels

We went back to Europe for the first time in two years, and really for the first time since COVID. We made stops in Germany (countryside, Berlin, Hamburg, Dresden and Leipzig), London and Rotterdam. Not counting the two COVID sojourns in 2020 and 2021, we last lived in Europe in 2012. The distance–mental and physical–is clearly having an effect on how I perceive this part of the world, my “home”, or is it? It was a blast to be back. Some memories and observations for the record.

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Australia’s Great Housing Divide

I listened in to this presentation today, organized by The Australia Institute, a progressive think-tank. It featured financial commentator Alan Kohler introducing and taking questions on his recent piece in the Australian Quarterly Essay.

While I still have to lay my hand on the issue, today’s talk along with this Guardian extract gives you the gist of what Kohler’s arguments are. I wanted to jot down some notes from the talk, and add some of my thoughts that have been accumulating over the past two years. Continue reading

An Unlikely Prisoner

Yangon Correctional Facility aka Insein Prison (photo by Manuel Oka)

I just finished reading An Unlikely Prisoner by Sean Turnell. The economist used to be a key adviser to Aung San Suu Kyi and her NLD-led government before the coup d’etat in 2021, which ousted her democratically elected government from power. Continue reading

Harlem revisited in books

Harlem is on my mind again these days as I am about half-way into Colson Whitehead’s Harlem Shuffle. A heist on the iconic Hotel Theresa is at the heart of it. Almost exactly ten years ago to the day, I put up a post on this blog recounting some of the building’s history. One aspect I wrote about–the Cuban delegation’s visit to New York in 1960–is beautifully laid out in Simon Hall’s Ten Days in Harlem, which I recommend to everyone. It’s amazing how such an important event in world history played out in this very building up the road from where we lived for a year between 2013-14. Continue reading

Getting back to work – debt in South Asia

My post on debt restructuring from earlier this year has kept me thinking. I sit in a line of work that deals with these issues every day, from an IFI and banking sector point of view. Lots has happened since February, and I have regularly written professional updates on the situations in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, which face(d) variable degrees of balance of payment crises.

Alas, my day-to-day does not allow for a deeper soul-searching and analysis of the underlying forces and trends that also matter in this debate. Given that I studied under people very critical of IFIs (and calling myself a heterodox economist if pushed for a self-characterization), I feel obliged to look a little deeper, academically speaking, into the political economy of these crises. Continue reading

Meguro bus depot

While sifting through photos, I just came across this gem taken from Claska’s roof terrace, sometime in December 2019.