1.32 Meter Square

This is an archived version of the PW Sources newsletter from Saturday, October 14. Sign up to receive PW Sources directly to your inbox here.


Evolving property regimes, labor market structures, and waves of financialization have transformed agriculture in the global South. In recent Phenomenal World essays, authors reveal the different forms by which agriculture is shaped by state policies and increasingly subordinated to global capital markets. 

In a 2023 article, Guilherme C. Delgado and Sérgio Pereira Leite analyze the “reprimarization” of the Brazilian economy:

“The emergence of the reprimarized economy can be traced to the early 2000s, when state policies promoted agricultural and mineral commodity exports as a prominent component of Brazilian foreign trade. This phenomenon has since transcended the conventional politics of economic policies, evolving into a consensus state policy program spanning two decades. This has borne significant socioeconomic and environmental repercussions, which have albeit largely been hidden from public discourse. Additionally, the swift financialization of agriculture has transformed tangible assets, such as commodities and land, into targets for speculative investment.  ‘Primary specialization’ does not enhance Brazil’s autonomy in external economic relations or foreign trade. Rather, it intensifies an economy-wide dependence on primary goods exports, gradually displacing other sectors.” 

In PW essay from last year, Maria Luisa Mendonça expands on the role of international finance in Brazil’s agricultural lands. “After the global financial crisis of 2008, international agribusiness and financial corporations formed alliances with rural oligarchies to operate in the Brazilian farmland market.” Link. And see her latest book on agribusiness in Brazil. Link

“Defying the conventional development narrative, increased investment in the agricultural sector has not automatically led to industrial development .”Also in PW, Shreya Sinha on Indian Punjab. Link. And from Samir Amin: “Increases in productivity can only imply labour-saving technologies, without the possibility of absorbing the marginalized into other economic activities, or of outmigration, as was practised by the West.” Link

“The character of Zimbabwe’s land reform has been redistributive, and the extent of this has been wide enough to trigger significant progressive changes in the agrarian structure.” Sam Moyo on land redistribution and agrarian change. Link. And see a recent PW newsletter on the subject. Link



LÉA BOU SLEIMAN is a postdoctoral researcher at the National Bureau of Economic Research. In her job market paper, she studies the displaced environmental effects of road-closures in Paris. 

From the abstract

“This paper shows that road-closing policies may have adverse short-run effects on pollution by reallocating traffic toward more congested roads. I study the impact of the 2016 closure of the Voie Georges Pompidou, a one-way expressway crossing downtown Paris, on traffic and pollution displacement. To do so, I rely on a difference-in-difference strategy based on the directi on and the timing of traffic, which I implement on detailed road-sensor data. I show that the closure lowered average speed by over 15% on two sets of substitute roads: central streets nearby and the already congested southern ring road. Using air quality data, I show that NO2 emissions increased by 6% near the ring road and by 1.5% near local roads.  The reduced-form results on traffic are quantitatively consistent with a calibrated model of shortest route choice, which allows me to recover the underlying rerouting patterns. Even though few displaced commuters diverted to the ring road, they triggered a massive pollution increase because of the U-shaped relationship between emissions and traffic speed. Overall, I estimate that up to 90% of the pollution cost was borne by lower-income residents around the ring road, who lived far away from the new amenity created by the closure and mostly outside the jurisdiction responsible for the closure decision.”

+ + +

+  ” In practice, Labor has effectively taken renters for granted while prioritizing the preferences of homeowners.” New in PW, Max Kiefel on the politics of homeownership in Australia. Link

 This coming Tuesday, October 17, at 1pm ET, join us for the book launch of A Thousand Cuts: Social Protection in the Age of Austerity by Alexandros Kentikelenis and Thomas Stubbs. Link to register.

+  Dimitar Bechev on the green transition in the Western Balkans. Link.

+  A memo from Climate+Community Project on “funding a Green New Deal for public schools.” Link. And read a PW essay by David I. Backer on “green investment for school infrastructure.” Link

+  Xiaojun Feng on agricultural e-commerce in China. Link.

+  “With an original dataset on appointments to finance ministries worldwide (1972–2017), we show that women are more likely to first come to power during a banking crisis.” By Brenna Armstrong, Tiffany D. Barnes, Daina Chiba, and Diana Z. O’Brien. Link.

+  Stephen Greenberg charts the evolution of South Africa’s commercial farming sector since the fall of apartheid. Link.

+  “The latest engagement of EU public policy, aiming to select and nurture start-ups with the potential to become unicorns, we argue, must be understood as a new layer in this trajectory of foundational market investment.” By Dan Mocanu and Matthias Thiemann. Link.

+  “The Indian television audience for cricket—more than the combined population of all the other full members of the International Cricket Council and twice the population of the United States—is the driving force behind the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s financial strength. The BCCI’s net worth, as of 2021–22, is Rs 23,159 crore. An examination of the numbers, however, does not reveal much. A lot of public attention is given to million-dollar rights and sponsorship deals, or the crores paid to star players as wages. Almost ninety percent of the BCCI’s 1,041 registered domestic players do not play in the Indian Premier League. Most of them are on ad hoc wages, unconnected to either performance or a share of the BCCI’s revenues. While the BCCI’s arrogance has been moored around money, it has also benefited from cross-party political connections—the organization has usually featured politicians from both sides of the aisle. What is now at play, however, is something different. In what already was a monopsony, an oligarch has taken over the cartel. We are witnessing for the first time in the BCCI the gradual solidification of the soft power of not politicians as a lot but of a single political party, the Bharatiya Janata Party.” By Sharda Ugra. Link

Each week we highlight research from a graduate student, postdoc, or early-career professor. Send us recommendations: editorial@jainfamilyinstitute.org

Subscribe to Phenomenal World Sources, a weekly digest of recommended readings across the social sciences. See the full Sources archive.