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African financial history is often neglected in research on the history of global financial systems, and in its turn research on African financial systems in the past often fails to explore links with the rest of the world. However, African economies and financial systems have been linked to the rest of the world since ancient times. Sub-Saharan Africa was a key supplier of gold used to underpin the monetary systems of Europe and the North from the medieval period through the 19th century. It was West African gold rather than slaves that first brought Europeans to the Atlantic coast of Africa during the early modern period. Within sub-Saharan Africa, currency and credit systems reflected both internal economic and political structures as well as international links. Before the colonial period, indigenous currencies were often tied to particular trades or trade routes. These systems did not immediately cease to exist with the introduction of territorial currencies by colonial governments. Rather, both systems coexisted, often leading to shocks and localized crises during periods of global financial uncertainty. At independence, African governments had to contend with a legacy of financial underdevelopment left from the colonial period. Their efforts to address this have, however, been shaped by global economic trends. Despite recent expansion and innovation, limited financial development remains a hindrance to economic growth.

Article

A new world for Europeans and an ancient land for its Indigenous populations, Australia has provided resources that have sustained its inhabitants for millennia. For the past century the nation’s standard of living has been among the world’s highest. This has accompanied the transformation from an economic frontier to a staples-based economy and to a modern, industrial economy over 150 years. Although a fundamentally urban society, it has been the continued use of the country’s natural assets, especially its land, that has underpinned these changes. While reliant on protective barriers in the first half of the 20th century, the country’s ongoing development has always depended on the inflow of overseas capital, an openness to international trade, and an eagerness to receive new people. When these elements have fluctuated so too has Australia’s economy. The sources of capital, trade, and people have changed over time, but a willingness to follow ideas from overseas has persisted. Not every member of society has benefited from development, and long-term inequality has followed the rise, fall, and rise evident in many Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations. Although still a leading nation when measured on the Human Development Index, environmental constraints, increased global tensions, and climate change pose challenges for Australian’s living standards that will again require them to transform their economy.

Article

The Indian Union, from the time of independence from British colonial rule, 1947, until now, has undergone shifts in the trajectory of economic change and the political context of economic change. One of these transitions was a ‘green revolution’ in farming that occurred in the 1970s. In the same decade, Indian migration to the Persian Gulf states began to increase. In the 1980s, the government of India seemed to abandon a strategy of economic development that had relied on public investment in heavy industries and encouraged private enterprise in most fields. These shifts did not always follow announced policy, produced deep impact on economic growth and standards of living, and generated new forms of inequality. Therefore, their causes and consequences are matters of discussion and debate. Most discussions and debates form around three larger questions. First, why was there a turnaround in the pace of economic change in the 1980s? The answer lies in a fortuitous rebalancing of the role of openness and private investment in the economy. Second, why did human development lag achievements in income growth after the turnaround? A preoccupation with state-aided industrialization, the essay answers, entailed neglect of infrastructure and human development, and some of that legacy persisted. If the quality of life failed to improve enough, then a third question follows, why did the democratic political system survive at all if it did not equitably distribute the benefits from growth? In answer, the essay discusses studies that question the extent of the failure.