“The Other Way COVID Will Kill: Hunger”

That is the title of a recent New York Times article, by Peter S. GoodmanAbdi Latif Dahir, and  on how complications driven by the spread of the coronavirus has led to increased challenges for many people in accessing nutritious and healthy food. The article is a tour de force—reporting from Afghanistan, South Africa, India, South Sudan, and Kenya—and begins with the following vignette.

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Calculating Price Volatility

One of the reasons I keep this blog is to create a public good of sorts. I hope that this site becomes a resource for other graduate students and other people interested in development economics. This post is me adding to this resource RE: Calculating Price Volatility.

This summer I started an assistantship with the Food Security Group (FSG) at MSU. A large part of what the FSG does is capacity building in the countries where they work. Gone are the days when the researcher parachutes into a country implements some (so called) expert analysis and then goes home. Today research in development economics (at least the good stuff) builds in positive spillovers for local research and development policy institutions.

I’ve been working on a project in Myanmar and was recently tapped to provide some assistance for the partners in Myanmar to calculate price volatility of grains. Understanding the dynamics of price volatility is important for development economics (particularly those interested in agriculture). When prices for a staple food are variable poor farmers are often at risk of loosing some of their profits to middle men who can afford to wait and sell when the price is high.

Anyway, there is remarkably little out there in terms of basic resources for calculating price volatility in an agricultural economics setting. Most of the free and accessible resources available pertain mostly to financial economics for calculating the volatility of stock prices or the riskiness (beta) of a stock. So I made my own introductory document to calculating price volatility. It is now posted here for all to use.