Is Sen wrong on famine?; Krugman 4 Tobin; US as failing state; weasel words; China ain't green; how Gordon can defend aid and pomo-babble: links I liked

‘Famines have indeed occurred in electoral democracies’ About as close to heresy as a development wonk can get. Olivier Rubin questions Amartya Sen’s famous assertion that political rights avert famines ‘A financial transactions tax is an idea whose time has come.’ Paul Krugman gives his support to the new incarnation of the Tobin Tax ‘America’s […]

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Oil melts glaciers, Gandhian climate marchers and hitch-hiking polar bears

A Thanksgiving and pre-Copenhagen treat – this vintage 1962 Life Magazine advert from Humble Energy – which became Exxon after its merger with Standard Oil. In those days, big oil really told it like it was [h/t Alex Evans]. By the way, if you’re somewhere between Oxford and Copenhagen and you see a footsore Indian […]

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How has the World Bank performed on the global economic crisis?

The Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group – an internal watchdog with a good track record in spotting problems, has just published an evaluation of the World Bank Group (WBG)’s response to the crisis. Nothing earth-shattering, but here are some highlights: ‘The greatest part of the Bank’s response in fiscal 2009 was a large increase in IBRD […]

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A unique 30 year portrait of a shanty town and its people

In 1978 Caroline Moser, a young British anthropologist went with her two children and film-maker husband to Indio Guayas, a new squatter settlement in the swamps surrounding the Ecuadorian city of Guayaquil. They built a 4 x 8 metre bamboo house joined to dry ground by long, rickety walkways, and lived there for 7 months […]

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Millions Fed: 20 case studies of agricultural success

‘In the late 1950s around a billion people—about one-third of the world’s population—were estimated to go hungry every day. Famines were threatening millions in Asia and Africa in particular, and prospects for feeding the world’s booming population looked bleak. In response to this alarming picture, scientists, policymakers, farmers, and concerned individuals initiated a concerted push […]

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Superfreakonomics undone; affirmative action works in India; China's carbon; Africa is rich; good ideas with stupid names; three arguments for taxes and it's raining polar bears: links I liked

Like a good academic assassination? Settle back and enjoy a quite brilliant filleting by the University of Chicago’s Raymond T. Pierrehumber of Superfreakonomics’ ‘analysis’ that expanding solar power would increase global warming.  [h/t Steve Jennings] Affirmative action works for women in India, according to a research round-up by Chris Blattman What is China doing about […]

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How archaeology holds the key to climate change adaptation in Bolivia

Climate Change is giving Bolivia a rough ride. One of the poorest, most unequal, and most biodiverse countries in Latin America, it has been buffeted by ‘natural’ disasters in recent years and is home to 20% of the world’s tropical glaciers, which are melting faster than most experts thought possible. Bolivia is also home to […]

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What can the BRICS teach us about reducing poverty?

An excellent new paper from the prolific Martin Ravallion, head of the World Bank’s research department, compares the successes in poverty reduction in three of the biggest beasts of the developing world: China, India and Brazil. Between them, these countries are home to a bit less than half the world’s poor people, but it used […]

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Has the IMF really changed? Academic arm-wrestling from Washington…..

A new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington DC tries to work out whether the IMF has really changed its thinking in response to the global economic crisis and the general perception that countercyclical responses (rather than belt-tightening austerity) are the right way to go in a recession. After a […]

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Ripples from the future; realtime climate change; food prices; throwing rocks; seduced by stories and why does she always guess right? Links I liked

‘Scientists at the £3.6bn Large Hadron Collider (LHC) found their plans to emulate the big bang postponed this week when a passing bird dropped a “bit of baguette” into the machine, causing it to overheat’ records the Guardian.  But there’s a much more sinister explanation from the whackier frontiers of theoretical physics: ‘ripples from the future […]

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Ha-Joon Chang uncovers what's worked in the history of agricultural policy

I vividly remember the impact of Ha-Joon Chang’s 2002 book ‘Kicking Away the Ladder’. At the time I was an NGO lobbyist on the WTO’s Doha round of trade talks, and Ha-Joon’s book showed how when they were still poor, today’s rich countries had systematically used the industrial policies and other forms of state management […]

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Which governments are best/worst at ending hunger?

League tables are a powerful weapon in the armoury of NGO advocacy. Politicians in the country that ends up in the top slot feel like they are getting some fleeting recognition for their efforts, while those at the bottom are annoyed and hopefully prodded into action. Newspapers love them too as they reduce a complex […]

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