The Buffalo Hunt

This is an archived version of the PW Sources newsletter from Saturday, December 17. Sign up to receive PW Sources directly to your inbox here.


In 2023, Phenomenal World sparked discussion across urgent issues of political economy, investigating the IMFdebt, and the dollar; the future of industrial policy in the global South; legacies of the left in Latin Americacrucial elections around the world, and more. We look forward to exciting announcements regarding our international coverage, translation projects, and PW book series in the coming year. 

If you’ve enjoyed reading, we ask that you share this letter with colleagues and friends, and encourage others to subscribe to PW Sources. We will be off until 2024. Until then, here is a roundup of some of our favorite essays, series, and newsletters from the past year. 

Thank you for reading, and best wishes for the holiday season. 


+  New on Phenomenal World this week: Ignacio Silva Neira on Sunday’s constitutional vote in Chile. Link. For the Polycrisis, Tim Sahay in conversation with Navroz Dubash on COP28 and climate diplomacy. Link. And Maria Fernanda Sikorski interviews Mercedes D’Alessandro on the aftermath of Milei’s victory in Argentina and the future of Peronism. Link

+  In the first PW essay of 2023, Herman Mark Schwartz investigated Schumpeterian growth waves and the “Nokia risk”: “Nokia’s handsets and related telephony equipment accounted for 20 percent of Finnish exports at peak, driving Finland’s current account surplus to nearly 7 percent of GDP. When the Apple iPhone launched in 2007, Nokia’s handset market collapsed, exports fell by half, Finland’s current account swung into deficit, and a decade plus of economic stagnation began.” Link

+  In March, Lin Chun examined fiscal and monetary experiments during China’s Communist Revolution: “The red banks functioned as central banks while playing a range of microeconomic roles as commercial banks as well. The Northeast Bank followed this pattern to issue and solidify its dongbeibi after Japan surrendered. The revolution took the whole region in the next few years and turned the northeast into its own gigantic industrial and financial powerhouse.” Link

+  Amid conversations around the CHIPS Act and US-China competition over semiconductor production, Susannah Glickman wrote about Intel: “In recent years, interventionist policy has fallen out of favor, and American chipmakers like Intel now find themselves lagging behind competitors in Taiwan and Korea. Following the panic that surrounded pandemic supply-chain shortages, semiconductors have returned to their earlier status as a litmus test for American power and decline.” Link

+  This year, we published on the politics of agribusiness. Guilherme Delgado and Sérgio Periera Leite interrogated the reprimarization of the Brazilian economy: “‘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 particular, manufacturing goods exports.” Link. And Shreya Sinha questioned the results of industrial agricultural in Indian Punjab: “Defying the conventional development narrative, increased investment in the agricultural sector has not automatically led to industrial development or increased employment.” Link

+  In April, we launched a new series by Elham Saeidinezhad on market microstructures, examining the origins of financial stability and crisis. Thus far, Saeidinezhad has written on new SEC regulations, the global payments system, and the changing nature of interest rate swaps. Each column has beenaccompaniedby an interview to illuminate the decision-making processes of financial actors. Link to the series. 

+The Polycrisis, led by Kate Mackenzie and Tim Sahay, has consistently published on the shifting dynamics of climate change and the global financial architecture. The Polycrisis newsletter has covered topics like the hottest summer in recorded history, climate investments in Africa, the energy transition in the Gulf, and Pakistan’s debt crisis. Longer investigations include Mona Ali on NATO’s climate framework, Advait Arun on private financing, and an interview with Isabella Weber on inflation’s drivers. The project has been shared in a variety of media outlets, including the Financial Times Alphaville and the New York Times.


+  In February, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Turkey and Syria, causing over 50,000 deaths. A 2012 paper by Osman Balaban looks at Turkey’s construction boom in the previous decade: “The construction boom of the 2000s took place largely in an unplanned manner. In many cities, profit-oriented and speculative attempts of developers were regarded as signs of ‘good business climate’ and welcomed by public bodies without questioning their potential impacts. In this sense, public sector has supported recent construction boom by adopting various legal arrangements and amendments. Most of these were in form of deregulation in order to facilitate real estate and construction investments.” Link to the newsletter, link to the paper. 

+  In May, we spotlighted Alice Amsden’s classic 1992 study of South Korea’s industrialization: “[South Korea] has involved a high degree of state intervention to get relative prices ‘wrong’ in order to overcome the penalties of lateness, the growth of large diversified business groups to transcend the hardships of having to compete without the advantages of novel technology, the emergence of salaried managers responsible for exploiting the borrowed technology, and a focus on shop floor management to optimize technology transfer. In other countries—in Turkey and India, for example—subsidies have been dispensed primarily as giveaways. In South Korea the wrong prices have been right because government discipline over business has enabled subsidies and protection to be less than elsewhere and more effective.” Link to the newsletter, link to the book. 

+  As sovereign debt crises peaked in Sri Lanka, Zambia, and elsewhere across the globe, we shared a 2009 paper by Tanzanian scholar Issa Shivji on structural adjustment programs in Africa: “Unleashing the market meant doing away with protection of infant industries and rolling back the state from economic activity. The results were devastating: education, medical care, health, nutrition, rates of literacy, and life expectancy all declined. Deindustrialization set in. Redundancies followed. Even some of the modest achievements of the nationalist period were lost or undermined.” Link to the newsletter, link to the book. 

+  Amid the ongoing assault on Gaza, we spotlighted Ahmed Tannira’s 2021 chapter on the political economy of the Strip: “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% 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… This deterioration continued through 2009 resulting in more than 65% of the labor force becoming unemployed.” Link to the letter, link to the text. 

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

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