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Posted by20 minutes ago

Here are two recent sources describing a reduction in at least some of China's infrastructure programs relating to Africa:

Both sources basically said that the Chinese government has invested a lot in hard infrastructure in various parts of Africa, but that they are now moving away from this to some extent. Is that true? Is that bad? Is it a big deal? If so, what should be done about it?

  • I'm asking about a region with >1 billion people. If you have an answer about a specific part of Africa, or about other places in a similar situation with respect to China and infrastructure, I'm interested. I don't need a comprehensive answer that applies to all of Africa.

  • I'm in the US, but from what I understand there is still a great need for hard infrastructure in many parts of Africa, and still not enough local capacity to finance or build it. The hosts of the podcast didn't seem too concerned, but they were also focusing on other issues.

  • One reason that they gave on the podcast for this shift away from hard infrastructure was the limited borrowing capacity of many African countries (combined with the riskiness and slowness of these projects), leading them and their Chinese partners to look for quicker and safer investments in ICT and things like that. How important is that?

  • I've also seen discussion about Chinese fears of possible backlash against social, labor, and environmental problems that are more common with hard infrastructure compared to other types of investment. How important is that?

  • The linked article said that part of the reason for this shift away from hard infrastructure is the economic difficulties in China. How important is that? That seems like something that could reverse, I don't know.

  • This is all based on the assumption that Chinese hard infrastructure investment is (still) significant in Africa. This seems self-evident, but maybe I'm blowing things out of proportion. I'm not really sure of the magnitudes.

  • I'm also vaguely aware that the Chinese government (like others) has various different development programs with overlapping missions and different names, so maybe observers are mistaking some name changes and reorganizations for retrenchment? Not sure.

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Posted by9 hours ago

https://www.measuringworth.com/

For those who aren't familiar with the website, MeasuringWorth is a website that provides (or claims to provide) comparators that allow users to determine the value of a given price/amount of money from a particular year in a different year, using several other "measures of worth", apart from the CPI and the GDP deflator. You can find an essay written by one of the founders that explains these measures in more detail here. (The site also provides historical datasets on things like GDP, CPI, and wages, but I'm mainly focusing on the comparators in this post.)

Now, as a sceptical fan of MeasuringWorth and its comparators who is also currently studying economics, I've had this question sitting around in my head for a while, but haven't been able to find an answer so far. I've done a bit of preliminary searching on Dimensions AI about the website and its purported citations in scholarly sources (which, after researching, seem to be genuine), and found that the journals that they're published in do seem to be legit, according to the Norwegian Scientific Index. The website's founder also seems to have been consulted by PolitiFact (an internationally accredited US fact-checking website) here and here, and cited in some other news sources (which I will also need to check the credibility of), such as Huffpost and Brookings.

However, as far as I can tell, most of the journal publications that do cite MeasuringWorth primarily use it for the CPI calculator or the datasets, not the alternative comparators, and I'm pretty sure that news websites and fact-checkers are not economists. That brings me to the title of this post: how do mainstream/orthodox economists view the alternative comparators on MeasuringWorth, and are the comparators part of mainstream economics or not?

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