Grow Crops, Not Algae

Written by Ryan McGuine // The incredible crop yields made possible by modern, intensive agriculture have literally made it possible to feed the world. Fossil fuels, which are used to power mechanized cultivation and as feedstocks for fertilizers and pesticides, are central to intensive agriculture. Indeed, comparisons of historical energy returns to farming (the ratio … Continue reading Grow Crops, Not Algae

Long Story Short: Poverty, Development & Coronavirus

Written by Ryan McGuine // Poverty and development are intimately related, and COVID-19 provides an example of that connection as it continues to spread worldwide, including to ill-prepared regions like South America and Africa. Combating poverty typically involves short-term, programmatic interventions, while promoting development usually consists of long-term, macro policies. These were long considered two … Continue reading Long Story Short: Poverty, Development & Coronavirus

Environmental Kuznets Curve

Written by Ryan McGuine // In the 1950s, Simon Kuznets postulated that as economies become wealthier, the level of inequality there would increase, then decrease. When plotted against income per capita, this creates the inverted-U shaped curve seen below. Around 1991, Gene Grossman and Alan Krueger noted a similar inverted-U shaped relationship between income levels … Continue reading Environmental Kuznets Curve

Technology Dynamics and Growth

Written by Ryan McGuine // According to the Solow Model, productivity growth is the key to long-term, sustained economic growth. In practice, this is quantified by a blunt measure of economic efficiency called total factor productivity (TFP). Referred to as a "measure of our ignorance" by Robert Solow himself, TFP is calculated by summing up … Continue reading Technology Dynamics and Growth

Feeding the World: Population vs Technology

Written by Ryan McGuine // Today the world produces historically spectacular amounts of food. Despite this, around 12% of the world remains undernourished, and assuming current trends hold, the world's population is projected to reach 9.8bn people around 2050 and 11.2bn by 2100, making the challenge of keeping everyone well-fed even more difficult. Technological progress … Continue reading Feeding the World: Population vs Technology

The Energy-Development Nexus

Written by Ryan McGuine // Energy and economic development significantly affect one another. Exactly how they do so, though, is far from straightforward and depends on a dizzying web of interrelated complex systems. As such, this post will not provide the reader with a definitive relationship between the two, but rather will provide an overview … Continue reading The Energy-Development Nexus

The Causes of the Wealth of Nations

Written by Ryan McGuine // Sustained, long-term output per capita growth, often referred to simply as "economic growth" is the ultimate goal of most economic policy interventions, and there are a number of models — mathematic representations of the economy — designed to explain how adjusting certain variables affects output per capita. The Solow Model is one … Continue reading The Causes of the Wealth of Nations

The Nature of the Wealth of Nations

Written by Ryan McGuine // Before inquiring into the causes of development phenomena observed, it is a good idea to first establish just what phenomena are observed. Toward those ends, Nicholas Kaldor presented a set of six stylized facts in 1961 designed to summarize what had been learned about economics in the 20th century and … Continue reading The Nature of the Wealth of Nations