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Paddy-whacked

NEARLY 16% of Indonesia’s 250m people survive on $1.90 a day or less, as do more than 6% of Cambodia’s 15m people. In both countries, rice is the staple crop, providing more than half the daily calories of the poor. That puts needy Cambodians at a distinct advantage: between January of last year and April of this, the average wholesale cost of a kilo of rice in Cambodia was roughly $0.40, while in

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A serviceable deal

IT DID not take long for America’s presidential candidates, busy though they must be, to digest the 6,000 pages of the agreement creating the “Trans-Pacific Partnership” (TPP). America and 11 other countries of the Pacific Rim struck the trade deal in early October, but the full text was not released until November 5th. Within days Bernie Sanders, a Democrat, had rendered judgment: “It’s

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Why running a budget deficit can reduce the national debt

YESTERDAY, at an event hosted by the Resolution Foundation, a think-tank, the organisation’s chief economist, Matt Whittaker, said something that made a few people sit up. He remarked that it would be simultaneously possible to run a budget deficit (ie, where government spending exceeds taxation) and reduce the burden of government debt at the same time. Now, to British ears this sounds

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Do ultra-low interest rates really damage growth

IT’S ONE of the fundamental lessons of any introductory economics course: lower interest rates, when all else remains equal, leads to higher levels of investment. But today, after several years of near-zero interest rates and only modest increases in investment to show for it, some economists are claiming just the opposite.

On October 26th, an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by Michael Spence

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Abnormally normal

FROM John Rockefeller’s Standard Oil in the late 1800s, through the Railroad Commission of Texas in 1930, to OPEC since 1960, institutions have long tried to control and stabilise the oil market for their own benefit. Only rarely, says Jason Bordoff, director of Columbia University’s Centre on Global Energy Policy, has the oil market behaved like a normal market, more subject to the laws of

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