November 2008

Bailouts v aid v climate change – $ reveals priorities

admin - November 28, 2008

The most popular post ever on this blog was ‘How much is $700bn‘ – a set of ‘killer facts‘ on the initial US bailout. These days $700bn feels like small change, so it’s time for an update in the run up to Saturday’s Financing for Development meeting in Doha and Monday’s start to this year’s big climate change ‘conference of the parties’ in Poznan. ‘Skewed Priorities’, …

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What might Obama do on US Aid Policy?

admin - November 27, 2008

By the time I got to the US (a week after the election), euphoria seemed to have given way to the strange interregnum between presidents. I found a vast gossip machine on who gets what job in the new administration (7000 jobs are up for grabs), and a lingering underswell of pride and anticipation, laced with concern at inflated expectations (not confined to the US …

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US elections: killer facts, what happens now? And Palin the poet

admin - November 26, 2008

The December issue of my favourite current affairs magazine, Prospect, has some great analysis (laced with whimsy) of the election and transition. Top billing goes to an insightful assessment of Obama’s likely direction by Michael Lind. Lind cautions against euphoria, drawing on the already over-used comparison with FDR in predicting that Obama’s first term will mostly have to be devoted to dealing with the economic crisis. Sorting …

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How did the book go down in Obamerica?

admin - November 25, 2008

Just got back exhausted from an intense two week tour of the US organized by the hyper-efficient Kristen Prince at Oxfam America. Highlights included an afternoon on Capitol Hill in West Wing Wonderland discussing the book with Congressional staffers, big and enthusiastic turnouts at the Gates Foundation, Northeastern, Georgetown and Brandeis Universities and the World Bank (where we broke our sales record), a presentation to …

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Is Daewoo the new East India Company?

admin - November 24, 2008

Last week the South Korean multinational Daewoo announced it had secured a 99-year lease (i.e. more or less bought) for 2.5 million acres (1 million hectares) of Madagascar’s land, mostly in the Indian Ocean island’s arid west. Daewoo aims to grow 5m tonnes of corn (maize) a year by 2023, and produce palm oil from a further lease of 120,000 hectares (296,000 acres). Most of …

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What Happened at the G20 Summit on Saturday?

admin - November 16, 2008

Some initial thoughts on the emergency summit in Washington DC, held to respond to the financial crisis. First, some positives: it was the first time the G20 have met at heads of state level. Could this mark the start of the eclipse of the G8, as major developing countries take a seat at a larger table? It still leaves serious concerns about the exclusion of …

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Will we ever be able to talk about limits to growth?

admin - November 12, 2008

Some challenging discussions on this on the New Scientist website. Here’s an extract from an article by Tim Jackson ‘The Ehrlich equation, I = PAT, says simply that the impact (I) of human activity on the planet is the product of three factors: the size of the population (P), its level of affluence (A) expressed as income per person, and a technology factor (T), which …

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More good stuff to read on the meltdown

admin - November 11, 2008

Paul Krugman argues in the New York Times that Obama has to think big on reflation: ‘Barack Obama should learn from F.D.R.’s failures as well as from his achievements: the truth is that the New Deal wasn’t as successful in the short run as it was in the long run. And the reason for F.D.R.’s limited short-run success, which almost undid his whole program, was …

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