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Economics research seminar with Gregor Semieniuk and Rex McKenzie

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Time: 4.00pm - 6.00pm
Venue: Room 3011, John Galsworthy building, Penrhyn Road campus, Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT1 2EE
Price: free

Economics research seminar with Gregor Semieniuk and Rex McKenzie

Please join us for this event as part of the Economics Department Research Seminar Series.


‘Role of energy in economic growth: some historical evidence and extrapolations ' by Gregor Semieniuk (SOAS University of London)
Model results on required climate change mitigation efforts are sensitive to growth and energy intensity assumptions. Forecasts of the former make assumptions about technical change enabling rapid labor productivity growth, of the latter about technical change enabling rapidly falling energy intensity. I investigate the extent to which technical change can achieve both aims by reviewing the historical joint evolution of national labor productivity and energy intensity for more than 95% of world output between 1950 and 2012, and contrasting it with the baseline scenarios in the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2014 report. The historical average elasticity of the energy-labor ratio with respect to labor productivity is close to one, implying lack of evidence for both rapid and highly energy-saving technical progress at the national level. The IPCC forecasts violate this restriction by implicitly assuming a lower elasticity, which suggests that baseline forecasts may underestimate future energy consumption growth conditional on the rate of growth. The stylized fact also highlights the importance of a cheap, abundant energy supply for robust future growth, and hence a more important role for renewable energy in climate change mitigation.

‘The Africa Rising Narrative-Reconsidered ' by Rex McKenzie (Kingston University)

Over the last ten years the mainstream press have put together an Africa Rising narrative which tells us that because of a series of 'good' governance reforms and more responsible economic management (by technocratic and not ideological leaders), African countries have managed to transform their economies into growing vibrant engines of growth. Robust growth rates that averaged 5.8% a year between 2002 and 2012 formed the basis of expectations that there was more to come. In 2011 The Economist (Dec 3rd) reported that, after decades of slow growth ‘Africa now has the real chance to follow Asia in embarking on fast growth in a very short period.' After years of repose Africa was rising. Basing its predictions on data from the IMF, The Economist (ibid) declared that Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria and Zambia would be among this decade's star performers. Recent events (like Ghana's 2015 IMF bailout) may have dented the narrative but it persists because although Africa's 2015 GDP declined 1.2% to 3.4% from 4.6% in 2014, it is still among the fastest growing regions in world. There is clearly a huge disconnect between the narrative and the images of African migrants risking life and limb to get away from Africa and into Europe. This article explores the sources of the disconnect and evaluates the narrative. How and why did The Economist (and others in the media and the economics profession) manage to put forward the bold claim that the 21st century belonged to Africa?


Dr. Gregor Semieniuk is a lecturer in economics at SOAS, University of London. Before joining SOAS, he was a research fellow at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) of the University of Sussex, working on the Horizon 2020 project DOLFINS Distributed Global Financial Systems for Society. A Foreign Fulbright Fellow, Gregor completed his PhD in economics at the New School for Social Research in New York, where he conducted research on the INET-funded project Growth, Distribution and Stability.

Gregor's research focuses on the role of energy in economic activity. Through the lens of growth theory he examines the importance of energy in aggregate technical change using data for over hundred countries from 1950 onwards. One aim is to explain the energy intensity of economic growth with the constraints that countries' sectoral structure, price structure, and trade patterns impose on their ability to pursue energy-efficient technical change. Through the lens of the economics of innovation, Gregor analyses how heterogeneous sources of finance influence the direction of innovation in the renewable energy sector. Harnessing increasing availability of transaction-level data for power plant financing, this research interrogates both how today's financing decisions influence the path and pace of the energy transition, and the distributional consequences of finance directed towards renewable energy.

Another research field is to explain the characteristics of frequency distributions in economic indicators as arising from constraints imposed by structures at the macro-level. Applied to industrial economics, Gregor analyzes how economic theories of competition can account for the frequency distribution of US-American firm rates of return.

Rex McKenzie was trained at the New School for Social Research in New York. His 2006 PhD thesis was entitled 'Three Essays in the Political Economy of the English Speaking Caribbean'. He has held lecturer, assistant professor and senior researcher posts in economics at the University of Technology, Kingston, Jamaica; Purchase College, SUNY, New York, and the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. He has two main research interests: the Political Economy of Development, and Monetary Economics. He is the editor of the World Economics Review (an online peer reviewed journal with a global reach) and along with Hasan Comert (Middle East Technical University, Turkey) he is co-editor of the The Global South after the Crisis published in July 2016.

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Contact: Antoine Godin


Directions to Room 3011, John Galsworthy building, Penrhyn Road campus, Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT1 2EE: