July 2008

Never make predictions, especially about the future

admin - July 29, 2008

The panacea of technological innovation is routinely trotted out by political leaders faced with difficult problems. Poverty? A laptop in every village! Climate Change? Carbon capture and storage, with a side helping of biofuels! So no need to ask, let alone answer, difficult questions on distribution, or possible environmental limits to growth – the magic bullet of technology will get us all off the hook.

Continue reading

New UN update on the Least Developed Countries

admin - July 24, 2008

UNCTAD’s 2008 Least Developed Countries (LDCs) Report, was published last week. Given 7% average annual growth rates in the 50 LDCs over the last 3 years, the report is surprisingly downbeat, arguing that even these levels of growth are failing to make a dent on poverty (as of 2005, 36% of the LDC population lived on less than $1 a day, 76% on less than …

Continue reading

So what does the World Bank’s new chief economist think about development?

admin - July 23, 2008

Following our recent conversation (see July 4 post), I’ve been digging into the views of Justin Lin, the World Bank’s first ever developing country chief economist. Check out his Marshall lecture on development, delivered in Cambridge in November 2007, shortly before he got his new job. It gives a fascinating insight into how Lin’s interpretation of economic take-offs in China and East Asia is likely …

Continue reading

It’s Doha déjà vu (all over again)

admin - July 21, 2008

Back in April, I spoke at a workshop on the WTO’s Doha round of trade negotiations where the EU negotiator Peter Mandelson got a laugh by saying ‘we have six weeks to get a deal… and I really mean it this time.’ Three months on, Mandelson will doubtless really mean it again, along with about three dozen other trade ministers who will be in Geneva …

Continue reading

Global Poverty is falling, right? Errrm, we’re not entirely sure

admin - July 18, 2008

Pity the poor number crunchers. Politicians, academics and NGOs argue to and fro about what does or doesn’t reduce poverty, but they all think they can more or less agree on the numbers – about 1 billion out of the world’s 6.7 billion people live on less than $1 a day. At least that was true until the World Bank’s International Comparison Program weighed in …

Continue reading

Agonizing over Aid

admin - July 16, 2008

Nothing makes me feel more like a woolly liberal than the aid debate. I seem condemned to see both sides of the argument and veer between the ‘aid as salvation’ and ‘aid as imperialism’ camps. With equal vehemence and seemingly absolute certainty, aid pessimists slug it out with aid optimists, often citing the same evidence, but arriving at completely opposed conclusions. What’s particularly odd is …

Continue reading

Nicholas Stern’s new paper on Climate Change: 8/10 on economics; 3/10 for politics (and the science is pretty questionable, as well)

admin - July 9, 2008

We’re looking for a climate change researcher (interested? – applications by 15 July), so I’ve been mugging up a bit by reading Nicholas Stern’s new paper, Key Elements of a Global Deal on Climate Change. His university, the London School of Economics, has just set up the ‘Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment‘ (which will inevitably be known as the ‘Stern Centre’) …

Continue reading

Chronic Poverty Report, published 8 July

admin - July 8, 2008

This is the second report by the Chronic Poverty Research Centre, a consortium of universities and thinktanks led by the Overseas Development Institute. It builds on many of the themes in the first (2004-5) report, but adds some important new issues and twists. Not an easy read, but there is real meat in here and a genuine effort to match rigorous analysis of the problem …

Continue reading

It’s G8 time again

admin - July 7, 2008

In Hokkaido, Japan, this week, staff from across Oxfam International will be lobbying governments, talking to the press, and periodically donning the ‘big heads’ – giant replicas of the G8 leaders, which we lug around from conference to conference. Dreaming up stunts for the big heads is one of the more fun bits of summitry, and provides an essential service to TV journalists. There’s nothing …

Continue reading
Translate »