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Making Poverty

Making Poverty

Thomas Lines


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Book Details


In this clear and intelligent book, Thomas Lines examines the role that global policies have played in creating a crisis of rural poverty. He explains the mechanisms of markets and supply chains, charting their impact on agricultural trade in the world's poorest countries. A desperate situation is emerging which could soon leave little place for hundreds of millions of smallholders across the world, as the global supply chains of giant food corporations and supermarkets swallow them up. Poor countries have become newly vulnerable to price changes for crops like rice and wheat, and the situation is set to deteriorate further if global policies do not change. The author argues that debates about world trade negotiations have only highlighted part of the problem: we must turn our attention to wider economic policies, the workings of the markets themselves and the division of power along the supply chains, to establish a practical set of solutions. Combining analytical rigour with a clearly accessible examination of the key factors, the author deftly points to the forms that these solutions could take.
'Tom Lines combines a lifelong commitment to development with a thorough knowledge of the complexities of global markets. Cutting expertly through economic jargon and myth, he explains why markets, far from being neutral, reflect the power and politics of those who govern them, determining who wins and who loses from globalization. You don't have to agree with every detail of his analysis to learn from this salutary reminder that the current boom in commodity prices is not the end of a history of commodity dependence which has left deep scars on the developing world.' Duncan Green, Oxfam 'Thomas Lines explains with science and erudite, committed scholarship why it is necessary to understand the History of Poverty in order to make poverty history. Historically embedded structures of production and international trade make peasant farmers of the South hostage to a value chain from which they pick up crumbs, whilst traders and financiers accumulate wealth. The answer is not to find a place in the existing value chain, but to break it. This book must form part of an obligatory learning discipline by all who care to make poverty history.' Yash Tandon, South Centre 'A timely, clearly-written book that shows how and why commodity markets fail, how they undermine food security and how poverty is made not fated. Lines unpicks the public policies, private standards and buyer power that impoverish but also discusses solutions; from prioritising food security not foreign trade, development of domestic and regional markets, reform of commodity markets and development of global competition policy to tackle the concentration of corporate power.' Geoff Tansey, author of The Food System and The Future Control of Food 'This book shines a spotlight exactly where it is needed -- on the 900 million poor people in rural areas in the world. Rather than being ‘assigned to the economic scrap heap’ by the way global markets are currently organised, this book shows how radically changed policies can both help these people out of poverty and can provide the engine for true sustainable and just development.’ Stewart Wallis, The New Economics Foundation ‘A most persuasive book.' Will Podmore, The Tribune 'A book packed with clear arguments alongside tables and statistics showing how global economic policies have created poverty on the most local levels.' VoteGlobal
Thomas Lines is a freelance consultant specialising in international agricultural markets. He started his working life as a journalist reporting on the commodity and financial markets in London and Paris, and later became a lecturer in international business at Edinburgh University. He has worked as a team leader of agricultural aid projects and a policy advisor for U.N. agencies, leading NGOs, fair-trade and trade union organisations. The author has worked in more than 40 countries and speaks fluent French and Russian. He was a candidate for the Green Party in the 2005 general election. His recent work as a research consultant made him look at world markets and their impact on poverty from numerous different angles, according to his clients' requirements. This unusual wealth of experience leads the author to some troubling questions about the way the globalized economy affects the Earth's poorest inhabitants.

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Contents v
Tables and Figure vi
Abbreviations vii
Foreword: crisis year ix
Introduction 1
A central problem 2
Outline of the book 3
Notes 4
1 Those who have fallen behind 5
Just who is poor? 5
Table 1 The countries with the highest human development indicators 10
Table 2 The countries defined as of low human development 12
Not keeping pace 14
Poverty under globalization 16
A global crisis 23
Notes 26
2 How poverty is made 29
What made countries poor? 30
Africa scrambled 33
A foot on the accelerator 35
The export orientation trap 38
Table 3 Average world primary commodity prices over three-year periods, 1977—9 and 2004—6 40
Running on the spot 43
Table 4 Changes in terms of trade of some country groups, 1980—2 to 2001—3 43
Table 5 Commodity-dependent developing countries (2003—5) grouped by the character of trade access to the US and EU of their leading commodity export 74
Squeezed out of markets 46
Blaming the poor’s rulers 50
Plan for development 52
‘Get the prices right’ revisited 55
Notes 58
3 Do the market’s job for it 61
The commodity markets are booming, aren’t they? 61
Problems in how commodity markets work 66
Table 5 Commodity-dependent developing countries (2003—5) grouped by the character of trade access to the US and EU of their leading commodity export 74
Breaking with tradition 78
Table 6 Vegetable trade in sub-Saharan Africa, 1990 and 2005 81
Can we manage? 83
Figure 1 Types of commodity supply management (limited supply) 87
Notes 91
4 Not farming but gambling 93
Who rolls the dice? 93
Central planning 96
And small farmers? 100
Abusive relationships 103
More hoops to jump through 106
Is breaking up so hard to do? 110
Notes 115
5 Getting out of the trap 118
Food imports 118
Table 7 Sub-Saharan Africa’s trade in staple foods and sugar 121
The roots of an answer 124
The regional option 128
The global dimension 136
Notes 138
6 Can we put history behind us? 140
The history of globalization 140
New directions 143
Unmaking poverty 147
Notes 149
Bibliography 150
Index 160