February 2009

How is Climate Change affecting South Africa?

admin - February 27, 2009

Here’s my ‘summary of the summary’ of a report published today by Earthlife Africa and Oxfam International. ‘In climate terms, South Africa is already living on the edge. Much of it is arid or semi-arid and the whole country is subject to droughts and floods. Even small variations in rainfall or temperatures would exacerbate this already stressed environment. Most South African crops are grown in areas …

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Obama’s lemon socialism; a globalization-fest; William Easterly loves aid and youtube factoid overkill: links I liked

admin - February 26, 2009

Paul Krugman at his caustic best on why Obama should nationalize the banks: ‘what we have now isn’t private enterprise, it’s lemon socialism: banks get the upside but taxpayers bear the risks. And it’s perpetuating zombie banks, blocking economic recovery. What we want is a system in which banks own the downs as well as the ups. And the road to that system runs through …

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Can NGO advocacy influence states? Social Protection in Georgia

admin - February 25, 2009

Here’s an example from Georgia of how well designed advocacy gets results: in this case helping 34,000 poor families gain access to state benefits and winning the introduction of an appeals procedure for those who feel unfairly excluded. It’s not glamorous, but it made a real difference, so bear with me. Like other post-Soviet Eastern European governments, the Georgian government takes decisions unilaterally and without …

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They don’t half butcher your prose at The Economist

admin - February 24, 2009

In a strictly personal capacity, I recently sent in a whimsical letter to The Economist in response to its piece on the changing names of London coined by journalists – ‘Reykjavik-on-Thames‘. What I sent: ‘Sir Given the combination of accelerating disappearance of the polar ice caps, and slow motion (glacial?) climate change negotiations, we could be looking at sea level rises of over a metre by the …

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From Poverty to Power in South Africa

admin - February 23, 2009

Just spent a week promoting the South African edition of From Poverty to Power, published by Jacana Media with a nice foreword from Francis Wilson, an authority on poverty and labour markets in SA who also chaired the launch event at the Book Lounge in Cape Town. Jacana put on a great programme of public events, university lectures and got some good radio and TV …

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The future of capitalism; why a world war might help; pay politicians more; the global crisis outside Oxfam’s window and the People’s Front of Judea: links I liked

admin - February 20, 2009

Dani Rodrik gets seriously long term on the future of capitalism Paul Krugman contrasts the Obama rescue plan with ‘the large public works program, otherwise known as World War II, that ended the Great Depression’ and says we’re in for a long slow slump. Please pay politicians more: Chris Blattman reports a paper on Brazil that finds that ‘higher pay attracts more and better-educated politicians, …

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How are effective states going to emerge in Africa?

admin - February 19, 2009

[Sorry to anyone who got a premature alert yesterday – hit the wrong button!] There’s nothing like a visit to Africa – in this case ten days of book promo and financial crisis impact interviews in South Africa and Zambia, to get you thinking about the role of the state. In Southern Africa, as on earlier launches in Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia, discussions invariably turn …

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Another 100m in poverty; 700,000 dead children in Africa: the latest World Bank predictions on the crisis

admin - February 18, 2009

Chilling new numbers from the World Bank on the human impact of the global economic crisis. New estimates for 2009 suggest that lower economic growth rates will trap 46 million more people on less than $1.25 a day than was expected prior to the crisis. An extra 53 million will stay trapped on less than $2 a day. This is on top of the 130-155 …

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Can 17th Century Britain help us design better social protection?

admin - February 17, 2009

I recently listened enthralled to Simon Szreter of Cambridge University at an ODI conference on growth and equity (more on that later). Simon set out some of the history of social protection in the UK and its possible implications for today’s developing countries. For the two centuries before the industrial revolution, the UK had a universal system of decentralized social protection backed by national regulatory institutions, …

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