Understanding the Global Economy, for Non-Finance People

Understanding the Global Economy, for Non-Finance People

Art and Finance

Note: Hi everyone! This April and May I’ll be busy with travel, marketing, and, most importantly, fundraising activities for Art and Finance, so no new Finance Blog posts (after this one) until June. But we will continue Ilusion through April and May and finally finish our super-long Chapter 5! Otherwise, see you in June, where we will be publishing some really good stuff! Anyway, here’s our writeup on the global economy:

Global Econ SummaryWith upcoming elections in the US and other countries, voters will looking at candidates’ policies, including their economic policies when it comes to the global economy.

As the goal of our website, Art and Finance, is to make Business and Finance understandable to non-Finance people (and sell a lifestyle while doing so), we believe now would be an opportune time to go over the basics of the global economy, how it functions, and what challenges it is currently…

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Africa’s Geography Trap

Africa’s Geography Trap

The Economics Blog

In the words of French Historian Fernand Braudel, “In understanding Black Africa, geography is more important than history”.

There are several factors that explain why Africa is not as successful as its continental counterparts. A few argue that colonialism is the main culprit, others cite poor governance and some point fingers at the rate of population growth. While these are all valid explanations, the narrative is incomplete. Africa’s geography still remains a highly neglected part of the story.

In Jarred Diamonds “Guns, Germs and Steel”, he states that a country’s wealth and economic success is contingent on its geographical environment and topography. Consider a subsistence economy with low agricultural productivity and weak infrastructure. If the soils are poor, the rains inconsistent, and the crop varieties differ greatly from what “rich” countries consume, then that economy is less likely to escape extreme poverty. Local farmers will grow just enough food…

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Steph Suggests

Steph Suggests

The Economics Blog

Lately, I have become very interested in documentaries (particularly those pertaining to Africa). I have compiled a list of my favourite ones (in no particular order) across a wide range of topics. Watching these documentaries have enabled me to understand the world a bit better & make connections between the past and the present. I personally found them quite fascinating and thought-provoking – I hope you do too.

Oil Crisis in the Niger Delta – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAgw_Zyznx0

Nigeria’s Codeine Crisis – https://youtu.be/-I_Lche2otU

Conflict Minerals, Rebels and Child Soldiers in Congo –  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYqrflGpTRE

Faces of Africa: Kwame Nkrumah –  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMY0iTcspNA

Rape in South Africa –  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpjNz8VrXFk&t=2172s

Thomas Sankara: The Upright Man –  https://youtu.be/G7Vlt41HPUE

The Cursed Twins of Madagascar – https://youtu.be/Srk7MugXR1Y

Uganda’s Moonshine Epidemic – https://youtu.be/zL3UHF5SlEU

The Rwandan Genocide – https://youtu.be/SW4pNA0UNO4

The Trouble with Aid  – https://vimeo.com/81133030 

A History of Nigeria 

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Cities are the future

Johan Fourie's blog

MinasRuines Photo by Marcia Valle

Brazil is a fascinating country to travel to as a South African. It is vibrant, slightly chaotic and mesmerizing all in one, and, beyond the airports and major tourist areas, quite a challenge for someone with no knowledge of Portuguese. I was invited to a rural university town in the state of Minas Gerais in May to deliver a series of talks. From the airport in Belo Horizonte my driver, hell bent on showing off his Grand Prix skills, took me on a five-hour rollercoaster ride through the hilly countryside. What was formerly a coffee and sugar plantations (and mining) region, were now mostly vacant, most of the land reclaimed by veld and forests. The language barrier prevented me from inquiring in detail what was happening, but from what I could gather, his answer was simple: People are moving to the cities. They want better lives.

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How to decolonise an Economics curriculum

Johan Fourie's blog


The economics curriculum at South African universities is in crisis, claims Ihsaan Bassier, an honours student at UCT. He writes that UCT’s curriculum is ‘largely abstracted from South Africa’s economic crisis and reinforces an anti-poor understanding of policies’. He explains:

Economics is presented as an amoral subject, only examining mechanistic questions and optimising efficiency. If it is amoral, why is so little attention given to heterodox thought? Capitalism arbitrarily privileges those with money over others in the most violent form possible, through a system of class protection, marginalisation of the poor and gross injustice. Rather than being amoral, undergraduate economics in fact promotes a horrible moral: that “rationality” is defined as profit-maximisation and that the point of departure is our violent system. Students are trained to be apologists for capitalism and alternatives are marginalised.

It is both bad economics and anti-poor for students to be bombarded with arguments that government intervention…

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Religion and Poverty in Africa. Why is the ‘Most religious’ country the ‘poorest’?

Religion and Poverty in Africa. Why is the ‘Most religious’ country the ‘poorest’?


Religion and Poverty in Africa. Why is the ‘Most religious’ country the ‘poorest’?  

I haven’t been to all countries in Africa but I have seen enough to understand some of the poverty stories that CNN churn out. Many find these reports offensive because it builds a negative continent equity . Alas, it doesn’t show the other beautiful sides of Africa- Our culture, our people, our values, our vibrancy, a rich history, the arable lands, our entrepreneurs, the tourist locations and so much more.


Statista published the list of nationalities that consider religion most important. Interestingly, 7 out of the top 10 countries with the highest ranking are African. Ethiopia ranked 1st with 98% and Nigeria grabbed the 9th position with 88%.  No African country made the bottom 10 list. China has just 3% of her population considering religion important in their lives.


Curiosity creeped in and I…

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Understanding the difference between the Excess Crude Account (or sovereign wealth fund) and a Centranl Bank’s External Reserves

Nonso Obikili's Blog

There seems to be a lot of confusion on the difference between the ECA and the CBN’s external reserves and what constitutes good and bad policy regarding both accounts so I am going to try to clear it up with this post.

First we have the Excess Crude Account (or the new Sovereign Wealth Fund). The point of this account is to guarantee revenues for the Government if there is a significant drop in its regular revenues. Such a drop could come from an economic downturn that reduces tax revenues to levels below expectations or more specific to Nigeria’s case a crash in oil prices. Something which happens very frequently. Good fiscal policy would be to set the budget based on a logical revenue benchmark and save all the unexpected extra revenue. Hence the ECA should be increasing during “good times” and decreasing during “bad times”. This guarantees, in our…

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