News bytes



Burger – o – nomics

It’s that time of year again when the Economist releases it’s annual “Big Mac Index”. If you’re a student of economics, politics, international relations or finance, you’ll probably have come accross this already, and most likely will have used it in an essay or two yourself. Since its inception in 1996 it has pretty much become synonamous with the theory of Purchase Power Parity (PPP), which seeks to compare the prices of identical baskets of goods in different countries.

An alternative take on the so-called evils of globalisation

This is a great talk by Leslie Chang on the lives of Chinese factory workers for providing an alternative view on factories in the developing world. The arguments against so-called “sweat shops” often focus too narrowly on the poor conditions of the factory itself, ignoring the socio-economic conditions that actually lead people to want to work in such conditions.

This is not to say that we should not oppose to the inhumane treatment of the workers that produce our goods, but rather that we should realize that at the end of the day it’s the workers themselves who will effect the change in their working conditions.

Money doesn’t grow on trees?

I’ve been reading a lot of classic philosophy and economics texts recently, and have been struck by how almost everybody, from Aristotle to Locke to Smith, all address the issue of the origin of money in their work. So naturally, I was excited when I came across this article by The Economist.

Irrespective of how it came about, I think we can all agree it’s had a pretty big influence on the development of the state and the world as a whole. I also think it’s quite a relevant topic since we seem to be moving into a new era of virtual money with the rise of credit cards, online transactions and mobile payments. In 50 years’ time we might have moved away from using coins and notes altogether.

This is not a porn site.

I don’t watch porn too often, and when I do it’s of a pretty standard variety. Hence my surprise when, prior to starting this blog, I decided to google “the IR amateur” just to see what comes up. Turns out, ‘ir’ is a common abbreviation for interracial, as in interracial sex. ¬†Quite frankly, it only made me like my chosen blog name more.

However, that’s where this blog’s association with pornography ends. My apologies if I mislead you. Instead, this blog is about international relations, politics, government, economic development, international political economy and foreign policy. While I’m pretty happy discussing pretty much anything that falls within the above-mentioned and related spheres, I do have a specific interest in developing nations, especially the BRICS nations, as well as general African and Asian development.

As the name indicates, I’m no expert. I’m currently in my final year at the University of Cape Town, doing a bachelor’s in International Relations. Thus, while my arguments and opinions will by no means be infallible, I hope this blog will spark some interesting online conversations. Anyone is welcome to participate as long as you are respectful of the other users.