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Deciphering Chinese Financing To African Countries

By Gwen Geng

The paper considers what attracts Chinese aid and Chinese investment to African countries and what kinds of Chinese financing projects are more likely to have unrevealed financing amount. The main database used is AidData: China’s Official Finance to Africa 2000-2012. It contains 2356 Chinese financing projects to 50 African countries. The results suggest that Chinese aid supports less developed economies, while Chinese investment favors countries with resource abundance and political conditions conducive to profit-making. The findings show that projects with unrevealed funding amounts tend to fall under investment and the government sector among other categories, raising questions on financing secrecy.

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Advisors: Robert Garlick and Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: F13, F54, N47, N57, O24, R11, R15

Prediction in Economics: a Case Study of Economists’ Views on the 2008 Financial Crisis

By Weiran Zeng

Prediction in economics is the focal point of debate for the future of economics, ever since economists were burdened with the failure to “predict” the 2008 Financial Crisis. This paper discusses positions held by philosophers and economic methodologists regarding what kinds of predictions there are and creates a taxonomy of prediction. Through evaluation of those positions, this paper presents different senses of prediction that can be expected of economics, and assess economists’ reflections according to those senses.

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Advisor: Kevin Hoover | JEL Codes: B41, N1, G17

Adam Smith and Sayyid Qutb: A comparison of two different worldviews

By Kehaan Manjee

The West and Militant Islam have been in conflict with each other because of their different worldviews. Adam Smith and Sayyid Qutb have arguably had tremendous influence on these worldviews i.e. capitalism and Islamic state. Both thinkers provided their prescriptions to improve the condition of their societies, and analyzing these prescriptions helps us understand the differences in these worldviews. I have compared and contrasted their socioeconomic theories, using these two thinkers as proxies for the West and Militant Islam. I have specifically analyzed their prescriptions on three issues: economic inequality, taxation and interest.  These key issues provide an insight into the views of the two scholars, and through that, the conflicting worldviews of the West and Militant Islam. On economic inequality, Smith believed that his economic system of natural liberty would lead to universal opulence; in contrast, Qutb argued that only an Islamic system of government could reduce the gap between the rich and the poor. Both thinkers supported taxation: Smith wanted to use it to finance the provision of public goods, security and justice; while Qutb not only wanted to use it to finance government services, but also viewed taxation as a tool for redistribution of wealth in the society. Smith and Qutb disagreed on the issue of interest: Smith supported interestbearing lending, but argued for the imposition of a ceiling on interest rates; on the contrary, Qutb wanted an outright prohibition on all forms of interest on creditThese similarities and differences in their prescriptions on various issues provide insight inttheir vision for society. Since their vision and objectives are differentthey have competing worldviews, which explains the conflict between the West and Militant Islam. 

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Advisor: Neil De Marchi | JEL Codes: B10, B12, B15, B31, N00 | Tagged: Adam Smith, Capitalism, Different Worldviews, Islamic State, Sayyid Qutb

Martin Bronfenbrenner: An Economist in the American Occupation of Japan

By Michael Potts

Martin Bronfenbrenner (1914-1997) was one of the last of a generation of generalist economists. His involvement in the U.S. Occupation of Japan changed his life and his career. This paper examines the mutually stabilizing relationship between his persona and his work in light of his experiences in Japan. Access to Bronfenbrenner’s previously restricted and unpublished autobiography archived in the Economists Papers Project at Duke University allows the author to reconstruct, from primary source material, some of the challenges faced by the individual, prewar-trained economist in navigating the postwar transformation of the economics discipline.

Honor’s Thesis

Advisor: E. Roy Weintraub | JEL Codes: B2, B31, N45, N95 | Tagged: U.S. Occupation of Japan, Economic Japanology: Martin Bronfenbrenner

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