About Alison Lowe
I am a second year student in the Global Finance, Trade and Economic Integration (GFTEI) program in the Josef Korbel School of International Studies within the University of Denver, Colorado.
I came to Denver from The Bahamas, where as a dual Bahamian/British citizen I worked for five years as a journalist on the biggest-selling national newspaper, The Tribune, as a senior news reporter and later, a business reporter.
After studying political science at the University of Nottingham at undergraduate level, and studiously avoiding most things economic, I got my first taste of economic curiosity as a reporter in The Bahamas. There I inevitably began trying to understand what factors were most important in determining how my little island nation and its people were to fare. Was it simply a matter of who the Big Man in charge was? (i.e. The Prime Minister) Or which Minister was in charge of what portfolio? Did it all come down to how many tourists would visit our sun-kissed beaches this year? And what was this Economy thing they kept talking about anyway…
As it turned out, economics and economic policies have an awful lot to do with an awful lot of things, from crime, to education to what kind of food you get to eat and how much it costs. But what really got my interest was this thing called the E.P.A. No, not the Environmental Protection Agency, but the Economic Partnership Agreement. A beautiful euphemism if ever I heard one.
The EPA is a free trade deal between The Bahamas and Europe, or more specifically, between all African, Caribbean and Pacific states (ACP) and the regional body which their former colonists now represent a part of.
This cute acronym represents for The Bahamas a major and to some, quite scary, shift in Business as Usual. Whether it be in relation to our tax structure (60 plus per cent of all of the Government’s revenue at present comes from import and export duties – something the EPA requires us to “phase out”), who gets to do business in our country and under what conditions (and as such, who our local companies have to compete against), how the Government contracts companies to provide services to it, the sanitation standards of food coming into and leaving the country, and whether there is protection for your ideas.
Through writing about such issues, I began to grasp some of the gravity of this seemingly inevitable development called Free Trade and what it would mean for The Bahamas, both good and bad. And I wanted to know more. I wanted to be one of those people who people like me – journalists – could call if they needed information about this, because as I discovered, not many people in my country had much information about trade-related matters at all.
A decision that would bring about fundamental changes in a variety of areas of life for regular Bahamians was taken with very little informed discussion. I want to make sure that in the future I will be one of those people who can help inform government policy, the private sector and the public on trade-related matters.
In the meantime, something else happened which again contributed to why I felt the Korbel School’s GFTEI program would be a great fit for my interests and aspirations: FINANCIAL MELTDOWN and ECONOMIC CRISIS. We’ve all heard these words a lot in the last four years and as a reporter I certainly found myself using them on most days. The saying goes, “When America sneezes, The Bahamas catches a cold…”. Well like most of the world, we have been suffering and continue to suffer with that cold for the last four years. But what exactly caused the meltdown, and how do we fix it? We are still feeling the knock on effects today as Europe’s governments in particular, but many others too – including The Bahamas to some extent – struggle with a sovereign debt nightmare, finding themselves in the vicious cycle of having to borrow more and more money at higher and higher rates to meet basic needs.
I wanted to know more about these esoteric financial and economic forces that govern our lives and hopefully come to a place where I can engage in informed analysis of decisions that are made in relation to them. I hope to use my knowledge to benefit The Bahamas, and maybe… just maybe….to help promulgate a more just, equitable and sustainable international order. But hey, let’s see if I can get my degree certificate before we get to that.
As for why I chose the Korbel School? Simply put it offers the type of degree with the variety of classes and skill sets that I think will place me on a strong footing to obtain the type of career I am interested in pursuing. Not only that, but it has a great reputation, is in a fantastic location AND they give me muffins for writing this blog. Doesn’t get much better than that. If you have any more questions, drop me a line. Or if you haven’t had enough of my ramblings, follow me on Twitter @alisondlowe.