Five Fingers of Fury

This is an archived version of the PW Sources newsletter from Saturday, August 5. Sign up to receive PW Sources directly to your inbox here.


Since April 15, the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have been fighting to take control over Sudan. Extensive war crimes have been committed by both sides

In a 2019 paper, ALEX DE WAAL charts the emergence of a “political marketplace” defined by paramilitaries and crony capitalists in Sudan. 

From the text:

“During the 1999-2011 period, Sudan’s political economy consolidated around a rentier crony capitalist system, reliant on oil revenues. Following the separation of South Sudan in 2011 and the loss of oil revenue, the regime pursued new strategies for financing state operations and politics, but each involved major trade-offs. Artisanal gold was exploited for export, at the dual cost of inflation and empowering the paramilitaries that controlled the gold mines. Renting out military services to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates generated powerful rivals within the centre. Leasing agricultural land and increasing tax revenue squeezed the constituencies that had benefited from the oil boom era. By 2018-19, President Omar al-Bashir’s political budget was fast dwindling, and with it his ability to reconcile the competing demands of different claimants. The popular uprising was a protest against the ‘rule of thieves,’ comprising a coalition of the former subaltern beneficiaries of the oil boom and ‘payroll peace,’ who had been shortchanged after 2011, plus the professional classes in Khartoum and their children. It drew on a well-established repertoire of Sudanese civic protest, adapted to the current circumstances. The military takeover in April 2019 was (after a brief wobble) the restoration of a similar political market, except with a new political business manager (General Hemedti). Although it has received an injection of cash (from Saudi Arabia and the UAE) and political energy, it is a less viable arrangement than that of the ousted President al-Bashir. This is because Hemedti lacks the reputational assets of his predecessor, his coalition is narrower, and his takeover does not remedy the macroeconomic crisis.” 

+  “Sudanese policy makers were well aware of the vast inequalities that plagued their country, yet the tools of mid-twentieth-century macroeconomics helped them justify ignoring these in favor of the goal of catching up economically with the states that they aspired to have as peers.” By Alden Young. Link. And see Young’s review of Morten Jerven’s The Wealth and Poverty of African States in PW. Link

+  “The main economic achievement of Bashir’s government was to supercharge the system of peripheral exploitation, using militias to clear populations away from oilfields and goldfields, and then setting up opaque currency mechanisms that allowed private elements within the state to siphon off profits.” By Edward Thomas and Magdi el-Gizouli. Link

+  “While Sudan’s trade unions were an active feature of prior democratisation struggles, the combination of economic contraction and the weak manufacturing base endemic to many African post-colonies had meant their decline in scale.” By Hassan E.T. Link. And Reem Abbas on the RSF’s financial networks. Link


Suburban commutes

TEREZA RANOŠOVÁ is a Ph.D. candidate in economics at the University of Michigan. In her job market paper, she explores how suburban expansion affects welfare and labor outcomes. 

From the abstract

“Over time, as metro-areas sprawled to the suburbs, long commutes became common. In this paper I combine motivating evidence with a structural model to show that even though long commutes are particularly detrimental to married women’s labor market outcomes, in terms of welfare it is singles who lose the most. First, I show that the gender gap in commuting among singles is negligible. Second, men in couples (not women) have much longer commutes than single men, and job access alone cannot explain this difference. This together with other observations suggests that commuting features gains from specialization harnessed within couples, allowing men to take better jobs. I embed this feature in a quantitative spatial model with endogenous marriage and location choices that successfully captures the commuting and location patterns by marital status. In a joint housing and marriage market equilibrium, as metro areas sprawl, commuting increases most for men in couples and employment falls most for women in couples, contributing to gender gaps in both outcomes. However, in terms of welfare singles lose more than couples, increasing the value of marriage. Couples are able to partially evade commuting costs through specialization, lower housing costs and redistributing resources within the household.”

+ + +

+  “The construction of agribusiness as a myth serves to occupy a position akin to that of an idol in the public imagination.” New on PW, Guilherme C. Delgado and Sérgio Pereira Leite on the “reprimarization” of the Brazilian economy. Link.

+  “Between climate extremes and record fossil fuel profits, political backlash to climate action by right wing parties is gathering strength.” New on The Polycrisis, Kate Mackenzie and Tim Sahay on action and inaction in the planetary impasse. Link.

+  “The paper documents irregularity in India’s 2019 general election data by showing that the incumbent party’s win margin distribution exhibits excess mass at zero, while no such pattern exists either in previous general elections or in state elections held simultaneously and subsequently.” By Sabyasachi Das. Link

+  Brett Heinz on Lockheed Martin’s “stock buyback bonanza.” Link.

+  “For workers, the Cambodian government’s continuing repression of the NagaWorld strike, and the arrest and sentencing of the union leader are a testament to the grim reality for the labour movement.” By Aria Huang. Link

+  Anthony Pahnke and Jordan Treakle on “the evolving role of the US state in land policy.” Link

+  “The case of the North Sea is pertinent for an equitable phase out of oil and gas, both globally and domestically.” By Felipe Sanchez, Björn Nykvist, Olle Olsson, and Linus Linde. Link.

+  Sam Klein-Markman on lithium mining in rural Brazil. Link

+  “In conversations and interviews with female domestic workers from lower or ex-Untouchable castes, I was told that until the early 1980s they could not enter the employers’ homes and only got outside cleaning and washing jobs. They had to wash dishes and clothes downstairs in the open compound of the apartment even if the employer lived on the third or fourth floor. Employers would take back the utensils only after sprinkling water on them. In the last few decades, especially in cities like Pune, new ways in which caste relationships are negotiated through the work in the household have emerged. Middle class women began working for income outside the home and, in consequence, domestic workers came inside the bungalows and flats. Without any reservations about caste, colour, or creed they also entered the kitchens. To the washing of the utensils were added the sweeping the house and maintaining cleanliness in and about the bungalow. In many places the entire responsibility of maintaining the kitchen was entrusted to domestic workers.” By Lokesh. Link

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

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