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Why formal credit eludes African smallholder farmers and the role of village moneylenders

Eyeballing the bowl of ugali lying on the rough-edged wooden table for eight, the African farmer feels once again let down by those more powerful than herself: weather, God and government. Rewinding this year’s events, the rain was unmoved by the collective prayers and tantalized villagers with an elusive appearance. With pest killers selling at […]

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How Does Changing Ethanol Capacity Affect Local Corn Basis?

Over the past decade, the United States has experienced a dramatic boom in ethanol production. The rapid expansion of ethanol was largely driven by the Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS), first introduced in 2005, which mandates that 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel are produced per year by 2022, 15 billion gallons of which can come […]

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Who Benefits from Agricultural Subsidies?

Who benefits from farm subsidies? If you ask a farmer, you’ll get the answer, “I do.” Ask an economist, however, and you will get an entirely different answer. Here are quotes from some prominent economists that convey the conventional wisdom. Andrew Schmitz and Richard Just: A large share of the benefits of an agricultural subsidy […]

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Growing a Sustainable Biofuel Economy: Part 1

The Environmental Appeal of Second-Generation Biofuels Second-generation biofuels from cellulosic feedstocks that were until recently thought to be always “five years away,” are now being produced commercially. In 2014, about 18 million gallons were produced, which was substantially higher than the 432,000 gallons produced in 2013. Poet-DSM and Abengoa are two of the refineries that […]

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Trading Off Fracked Natural Gas for Coal in China

China’s enormous growth in the past few decades stimulated a high demand for energy that historically has been fueled by coal. However, obtaining natural gas from fracking shale formations is becoming an economical competitor to coal in China because of advances in technology and economic incentives provided by the Chinese government (Thomas, p.1). Between 1984 […]

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The Taxation of Agricultural Land in the United States

Concern about loss of prime farmland has long been a major public policy concern. Many of the policies enacted in efforts to slow conversion along the urban fringe originated shortly after World War II as rapidly transforming cities expanded resulting in farmland being converted to residential, commercial, and industrial uses. One of the policy instruments […]

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Mortgage Consumer Protection in Action

Since the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (Dodd-Frank Act) authorized the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to regulate lending practices in the credit market, the CFPB has addressed the mortgage market with several amendments to existing mortgage regulations under the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and the Homeowner Equity Protection Act (HOEPA). The TILA and […]

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