The Blind Prophesier

This is an archived version of the PW Sources newsletter from Saturday, October 21. Sign up to receive PW Sources directly to your inbox here.


Following a violent attack by Hamas on October 7, the Israeli state has laid siege to the Gaza Strip: thousand of bombs have been dropped, electricity has been cut, and food, water, and fuel supplies are running dangerously low. Over 3,785 Palestinians and 1,400 Israelis have been killed in the past two weeks of conflict. 

In a 2021 chapter, Ahmed Tannira examines how Israel’s policies towards Hamas transformed the Gaza Strip after 2006.

From the text:

“After victory in the Palestinian Legislative Council elections in 2006, Hamas formed its own government. Consequently, Israel withheld the transfer of Palestinian tax revenue, which in 2006 constituted approximately 40 percent of the PA’s budget, and enforced further punitive measures that included tightening control over Gaza’s six land crossings. This collective punishment had an immediate impact on Gaza’s industrial sector. It was estimated that more than 90% of factories in the Strip had closed and the remaining 10% continued to work with minimum workforce capacity. Exports saw a huge decrease because only 259 trucks were allowed to leave Gaza in the period between 2007 and 2010. Gaza’s economy shrank from US$1.7 billion in 2005 to US$1.1 billion in 2008. This deterioration continued through 2009 resulting in more than 65 percent of the labor force becoming unemployed. The private sector had witnessed the highest level of damage, where employment fell by almost 75%. Poverty reached approximately 80 percent and by 2010, when 1.1 million people were receiving food assistance, almost 60 percent of  the population. Furthermore, 35% of agricultural land has been lost as a result of Israel’s land grabs. Almost on a regular basis, Israel floods Palestinian agricultural lands located on the borders with Gaza with sewage water, rendering it unsuitable for growing food. Israel also systematically digs deeper wells near Gaza’s artesian aquifers, to drain its water. Simultaneously, the lack of sufficient fuel entering Gaza has disrupted water treatment plants, resulting in waste being discharged directly into the sea, causing extensive contamination of the beaches.”

“Through a dual process of containment and pacification, Hamas has been forcefully transformed into little more than an administrative authority in the Gaza Strip.” Tareq Baconi in 2018. Link. And read a recent interview with Baconi in The New YorkerLink

“In Gaza, the de-development of the economic sector has, over two decades of Israeli rule, transformed that economy into the auxilliary state of Israel.” Sara Roy in 1987. Link. And Roy’s updated edition of The Gaza Strip: The Political Economy of De-development from 2016. Link

+  “The emergence of a Gulf role in the Palestinian issue coincides with a cautious Egyptian-Iranian rapprochement in recent weeks.” In MadaMasr, “Egypt’s difficult questions in the Gaza war.” Link


Pound sterling

MAYLOS AVARO is a postdoctoral fellow and invited lecturer in history at the University of Pennsylvania. In a recent paper, she revisits the history of the Pound Sterling during the Bretton Woods period. 

From the paper:  

“A ‘Zombie bank’ commonly refers to a failing financial institution which continues to operate, backed by public guarantees. This paper examines the international role of sterling during the Bretton Woods period and characterizes it as a Zombie international currency. Using both quantitative analysis and archival findings from recently declassified documentation, I provide a new narrative on the decline of the pound sterling: from 1945, the pound was surviving only in the captive market of the sterling area. These results challenge the view of a multipolar monetary world for the Bretton Woods era. Sterling’s key currency role stopped during the interwar period. After WWII, sterling’s role did not compare with the dollar on the international stage as the presence of in global foreign exchange reserves was the result of artificial barriers built by British monetary authorities around the sterling area. In the countries free from British imperial influence, the dollar was the only key international reserve currency.”

+ + +

+  “What accounts for this stunning decline of the Polish left, which has extended not only to the fortunes of party politics, but to the strength of its labor movement and its civil society institutions?” New on PW, Jan Toporowski on Poland’s recent elections. Link

+  “The oil shock must be understood through its socio-economic and anti-colonial origins, reminding us of the long history of efforts to reform Bretton Woods and the international monetary system.” Also on PW, Duccio Basosi and Giuliano Garavini reflect on the 40th anniversary of the oil price shock of 1973. Link

+  Dawn Marie Paley on mining and land struggles in Mexico’s Sonora Desert. Link.

+  “Our empirical findings suggest that the establishment of independent welfare ministries was a product of wartime turbulence and the political, economic and social shockwaves set off especially by World War I.” By Klaus Petersen, Carina Schmitt, and Herbert Obinge. Link

+  Adéwálé Májà-Pearce on housing, inequality, and climate change in Lagos. Link.

+  “This paper finds that U.S. finance owns approximately 60% of U.S. listed companies and 28% of the equity of all globally listed firms.” By Albina Gibadullina. Link.

+  A brief from the American Economic Liberties Project on how group purchasing organizations (GPOs) fuel drug shortages. Link.

+  Evan Hansen on farmer-herder relations and the rise of Jihad in Mali. Link.

+  “Through an econometric evaluation of eighteen advanced economies from 1980 to 2019, we demonstrate that household debt is determined by house price inflation, and that rising household debt contributes to GDP growth, while business debt has negative growth effects.” By James D. G. Wood and Engelbert Stockhammer. Link.

+  “This paper assesses the role of Rotating Savings and Credit Associations (ROSCAs) in China’s pre-modern economic development, as well as their potential contribution to more recent economic growth. ROSCAs are a kind of small-scale, community-based financial institution found in underbanked populations throughout the world. In China, ROSCAs have existed since at least the Tang (618‒907 AD) or Song (960‒1279 AD) dynasties. By the Qing (1644‒1912) and Republican (1912‒49) periods, they were found in communities throughout the empire, from southwestern Yunnan to Hong Kong to Shanxi in the north. On the eve of the Communist revolution, ROSCAs continued to be a critical vehicle for accumulating savings and accessing credit for rural communities, even more important than modern banks or credit cooperatives. Though ROSCAs were suppressed during the Mao era, after Reform and Opening they came roaring back, particularly in areas of the country with the most vibrant private sectors.” By Matthew Lowenstein. Link

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

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