Sign in

An economist in the making, interested in ideas of development economics and political economy. Subscribe to my insights at whatifeconomics.substack.com

A self-provisioning society can be an intersection of the commons, as envisioned by Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom, and cooperative economics, a branch of heterodox economic thought.

In this world of reinventing capitalism — producer’s capitalism to shareholder capitalism — and growing consumerism, society needs cooperation and cooperatives. These “self-provisioning” mechanisms have come forward time and again to avert a crisis.

Cooperatives, unlike capitalist firms, are not run by distant institutional investors or shareholders but by people…


A silver bullet is an action that cuts through complexity, providing an immediate solution to a long-standing problem. Is microfinance that bullet to the issue of global poverty?

The complex nature of developing economies, embedded in their urban-rural dynamics, diverse cultures, dialects, people, behaviors, and actions, makes it a test case for innovative economics and policy measures. In a poverty-stricken world, credit is a gateway to global prosperity and empowerment. However, is access to credit alone enough?

One…


The idea of vaccine passports has been around long before COVID-19 disrupted travel and commute. While pre-COVID-19 vaccination certificates are mandatory for a few regions and against select diseases, COVID-19-related vaccine passports will affect the global population in ways yet to unfold.

Imagine a world where you will be required to verify your immunity to a virus wherever you go — work, restaurants, movies, buses, trains, flights, that is, all public places. …


Modern Monetary Theory is a post-Keynesian heterodox theory postulating that an economy holding a sovereign currency can never run out of money.

Everyone — from individuals at home to economists at the Central Banks — prepares a budget — personal or national — once in a while — weekly, monthly, or annually. The exercise involves balancing the incomes and expenditures, such that the former is greater than the latter. As individuals, our…


The skewed gender ratio across Asia, particularly India and China, prefaced the notion of missing women. Since then, the trends and reasons behind missing women have been of great interest to development economists.

For every 100 women, there are 105 men across the globe.

A possible explanation could be biological — a skewed sex ratio during conception than at birth. Back in the 19th century, when contraception and sex-selective abortion were unacceptable and unknown, there was an excess of males during the time…


As the world is on the verge of a global housing crisis, the lack of a missing middle limit the number of options households have while choosing the right house.

Global leaders and national politicians have long preached housing for all but do not provide the legislation for housing of all sorts. Affordable housing does not alone concern the developed economies, such as the United States, but also the developing and low-income countries.

From Hong Kong’s too small an apartment


Two paradoxes — that of value and choice — in economic and psychological decision-making are quite different yet similar. At the intersection of economics and psychology — called behavioral economics — lie these paradoxes.

The ‘paradox of value’ and the ‘paradox of choice’ came about decades apart in economic and sociological history. …


The article unveils the missing middle phenomenon or the lack of medium-sized enterprises in the industrial sector of developing economies.

Industries are said to be the backbone of an economy. The growth trajectory of any economy starts with agriculture, leading to industrial development and, finally, the emergence of a service sector. Industries, thus, provide a forward and a backward linkage to services and agriculture, respectively.

The history of industrialization suggests…


When do the free markets cease to be self-correcting? The article charts the evolution of economic thought, from traditional laissez-faire to modern-day free market economies.

A long time ago, the forefathers of economics set the stage for what came to be known as the free market economy. It all started with Adam Smith’s classical work, titled An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, that laid the foundation of ideas of…


This explainer expands on the labor demand and supply in a monopsonistic labor market, exploring the effect of collective bargaining by trade unions on such a market structure.

Remember playing the board game — monopoly — with your friends or family on that long weekend afternoon. Everyone has had such an experience, at some point in their lives, most likely during the pandemic-induced lockdown. Some played to collect more and more properties, reach Broadwalk or Mayfair — the…

Shereein Saraf

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store