From The Editor's Desk (December 2014)

17 December 2014

Tony Addison

As we move towards the year’s end, UNU-WIDER can look back on a remarkable series of events in 2014, and forward to our 30th anniversary in 2015. The WIDER Annual Lecture 18, by Peter Timmer, took place at the UN in New York on 18th November. This followed our well-attended inequality conference in September, and our Hanoi conference on institutional reform in June. Along the way, we had numerous other project meetings and presentations, including a policy seminar in Geneva on Giovanni Andrea Cornia’s new book on Latin American inequality. Meanwhile, we published over ​160 working papers, not to mention journal papers and journal special issues. It’s been a great 2014.

This double issue of Angle for November-December starts with Roger Williamson’s report on Peter Timmer’s Annual Lecture. The lecture focused on the kinds of economic transformation necessary to make real progress post-2015. Generating better livelihoods for poorer people, and more food security, entails meeting the challenge of agricultural development. More on Peter Timmer’s Annual Lecture is available here and is a recommended read.

As important to inclusive growth is the creation of manufacturing and high-value service sectors which generate good jobs. Over the last few years, UNU-WIDER’s Learning to Compete (L2C) project has been busy looking at what it takes for countries in Africa to achieve the kind of spectacular transformation seen in the economies of Asia. In this issue of Angle, John Page presents highlights of the project, and the ways that policy makers can take the challenge forward. 

This year has certainly been the year of inequality—it seems to be in every op-ed piece I read about development and growth. Of course, Thomas Piketty’s new book has been a massive stimulus to creative research in this area. We had over 300 researchers at our inequality conference, and you can view all the sessions here. Roger Williamson reports further on the conference, and our progress, in this issue of Angle.

RESEARCHAngle features two outputs from the project on Latin American inequality led by Andrea Cornia. One takes a broad empirical view of the decline in inequality, the other focuses on the specific case of Ecuador. We also complement the piece by John Page on Africa, with another a piece summarizing some of the L2C work on structural change and poverty in Africa.

By the way, you can see a seminar on Andrea Cornia’s book on falling inequality in Latin America, published by Oxford University Press, here. The ILO-UNCTAD-UNU-WIDER event was hosted by ILO in Geneva in October. Annett Victorero and Dominik Etienne reported back from the meeting in the October issue of Angle.

Our VIDEOAngle presents an interview with Michael Keen of the IMF, by Roger Williamson. Michael discusses the challenges of using taxation as a policy instrument, including equity and efficiency trade-offs. Taxation is also an issue that has risen to the fore in recent years, not least because of the need to finance continued expansion in basic service delivery under the MDGs. There is also much discussion of taxation in relation to the equity objective. 

UNU-WIDER is now making great use of video material, and our YouTube channel is here. If you missed our June conference ‘Institutional Reforms for Transformation, Inclusion and Sustainability’ in Hanoi, with Vietnam’s Central Institute for Economic Management, then you can watch the videos of the sessions here. And the videos from our ‘Inequality: Measurement, Trends, Impacts and Policies’, conference held in Helsinki in September are here. The videos are a good way for students to follow our research on inequality, including using the latest World Income Inequality Database (WIID) from UNU-WIDER. 

We increasingly use Twitter to post links to the latest videos, publications and events. If you want up-to-the-minute news of UNU-WIDER then follow us at @UNUWIDER on Twitter. And if you want more random musings from me, you can turn to @TonysAngle

The shortest day is soon upon us, as daylight time in southern Finland dips below five hours (of course it’s even shorter further north, as you move closer to and then into the Arctic Circle). We are back in January with the next issue of Angle. Meanwhile, I have to go and organize the elves to pack the presents onto the sleigh. Seasons greetings to all, from the land of Santa.

Tony Addison is chief economist/deputy director, UNU-WIDER.
Follow him on twitter at @TonysAngle

WIDERAngle newsletter
November/December 2014
ISSN 1238-9544

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