Monthly Archives: October 2011

Boyce and Ndikumana publish “Africa’s Odious Debts”

In Africa’s Odious Debts, UMass Amherst economics professors James Boyce and Léonce Ndikumana reveal the shocking fact that, contrary to the popular perception of Africa being a drain on the financial resources of the West, the continent is actually a net creditor to the rest of the world. The extent of capital flight from sub-Saharan Africa is remarkable: more than $700 billion in the past four decades. But Africa’s foreign assets remain private and hidden, while its foreign debts are public, owed by the people of Africa through their governments.

Léonce Ndikumana and James K. Boyce reveal the intimate links between foreign loans and capital flight. More than half of the money borrowed by African governments in recent decades departed in the same year, with a significant portion of it winding up in private accounts at the very banks that provided the loans in the first place. Meanwhile, debt-service payments continue to drain scarce resources from Africa, cutting into funds available for public health and other needs. Controversially, the authors argue that African governments should repudiate these ‘odious debts’ from which their people derived no benefit, and that the international community should assist in this effort.

Join the authors to celebrate the release of Africa’s Odious Debts:

Thursday, November 3 at 5 pm
Amherst Books
8 Main street
Amherst, Massachusetts

Badgett: Study suggests discrimination against gay applicants

M.V. Lee Badgett

M.V. Lee Badgett, economics and director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration, comments about a new study that finds a significant amount of discrimination in hiring against openly gay men in some parts of the country. According to Badgett the study, “rules out differences in the gay and heterosexual applicants’ skills and experience by design, so the fact that gay applicants are much less likely to be invited for an interview is hard to explain by anything other than discrimination.” (Bay Area Reporter, 10/13/11)

Epstein comments in WSJ on code of ethics

Gerald Epstein

Gerald Epstein, UMass Amherst economics professor and co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute, comments in a story about efforts to have academic economists adopt a code of ethics in response to criticism of ethical lapses in the profession related to the economic crisis in 2008. Epstein says a new disclosure policy adopted by the 1,200-member National Bureau of Economic Research is a good start. (Wall Street Journal, 10/12/11)

“What are Economics For?” A Truthout interview with Gerald Epstein

Gerald Epstein

Gerald Epstein, UMass Amherst economics professor and co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute, is interviewed about the history and role of progressive economics. According to Epstein, “A lot of the impetus for alternative economics came from opposition to the Vietnam War and in solidarity with the Civil Rights movement and New Left feminism. It was oriented towards peaceful revolution. The idea was to develop a better economics for a democratic society, a theoretically more valid way to understand capitalism. While its origins were revolutionary, they were also somewhat theoretical. In the last twenty years, alternative economics has become much more policy-oriented, toward developing more equalitarian policies – a lost idea.”

Epstein is an advocate of transforming the financial sector, including reducing its size. “The US should be – but we are not – transitioning from fossil fuels to renewables and a green economy. That would help us transition out of a financialized economy. We need to shrink the financial sector – which before 2008 accounted for 60% of the profits in the US – and find another sector where we can create jobs. (, 10/10/11)

Katzner to deliver Distinguished Faculty Lecture

Donald Katzner

Professor Donald Katzner will be delivering a Distinguished Faculty Lecture on Wednesday, October 19 at 4:00 p.m. in the Bernie Dallas Room, Goodell Building. His talk, UMass Amherst’s Radical Revolution in Economics, 1965-1981, will describe how a significant, visible group of Marxian economists replaced their traditional counterparts in the UMass Amherst Economics Department and how the resulting turmoil eventually resolved itself into an intellectually exciting, friendly, and productive atmosphere with lasting implications for academic endeavor and a profound legacy for the economics profession. The talk is based on his new book, At the Edge of Camelot: Debating Economics in Turbulent Times (Oxford University Press, 2011).

The Distinguished Faculty Lecture Series celebrates the value of academic excellence and recognizes the distinguished achievements of faculty. Those chosen for the series also receive the Chancellor’s Medal, the highest honor bestowed to faculty by the campus. The lecture is sponsored by the Office of the Chancellor and the Office of the Provost. For event details, please click here.

Badgett on NPR’s Marketplace

M.V. Lee Badgett

M.V. Lee Badgett, UMass Amherst economics professor and director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration, comments in a story about how even with the end of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, same-sex couples are not treated equally because of the federal Defense of Marriage law. She says that law says states don’t have to recognize marriages from other states that allow for same-sex marriage and that the federal government also won’t recognize them. Badgett says that law has to be rescinded by Congress or struck down by the courts before the situation changes. (Marketplace [NPR], 9/30/11) Listen to the audio.