Topic: General

How about some MDGs for the TOP billion?

In the run up to the big UN MDG summit next month, this sweet idea comes from Andrew Revkin on his dot earth blog: “Here comes a question to ponder over the weekend. There is a set of Millennium Development Goals for the poorest of the poor – a cohort of humanity sometimes described as […]

Read More »

What to Read on Copenhagen

OK, the Copenhagen climate summit is warming up nicely (even faster than the rest of the world), and I am trying to sift through the information overload. What on earth to read for those of us with limited time and not at the summit? I’ve been asking a few climate change guru chums and here’s […]

Read More »

How much is $700bn?

The arguments for a bailout to avoid systemic collapse are of course genuine and persuasive, but so are the arguments for aid and against standing by and allowing a child to die every 3 seconds, or a woman to die in childbirth every minute. To put the proposed Wall Street bailout into perspective. $700bn: · Would […]

Read More »

How will the meltdown affect development?

If the current financial meltdown causes the US and Europe to sneeze, will poor countries catch cold, succumb to pneumonia, or have they discovered a new flu vaccine in the growing economic presence of China? I’m currently on a visit to East Africa, and that is the question that is preoccupying many of its leaders. […]

Read More »

Update on global poverty figures – another 400 million below the poverty line

As discussed in my previous blog, the World Bank has now issued its revised global poverty numbers. These have been recalculated to respond to its improved measure of ‘purchasing power parity’, which rebalances figures for GDP to allow for the fact that the price of goods and services varies between countries (i.e. a haircut in […]

Read More »

Shocks and Change

Funny thing, the Chatham House rule. Introduced by the Chatham House thinktank to enable policy makers to speak more freely at seminars and meetings, people often assume it means you are sworn to complete secrecy about what was said. Not so. The actual rule reads “When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the […]

Read More »

Never make predictions, especially about the future

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 […]

Read More »

Recession, development and climate change: the big picture

This article of mine first appeared in the 25th October issue of the Scotsman. If the 1930s are any guide, the seismic shock hitting the global economy has a long way to go. First came the plummeting stocks on Wall Street, then the social trauma of mass unemployment, soup kitchens and skid row. But they […]

Read More »

Bailouts v aid v climate change – $ reveals priorities

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 […]

Read More »

What might Obama do on US Aid Policy?

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 […]

Read More »

I'm on a speaking tour in the US from 10-21 November – everyone welcome

A quick plug. Now the summer is gone, and the students have sobered up from freshers’ week (or whatever it’s called in the US), I’m taking the From Poverty to Powerpoint to the US. The tour is from 10-21 November and includes the following venues:

Read More »

Complexity, Chaos, Catastrophes and Change: Is the New Physics much help to development wonks?

One of the unfinished tasks in From Poverty to Power is developing a better model for analysing processes of change, so I’ve been going back to my prehistoric roots as a physics undergraduate, and reading about complexity and chaos. Exploring the Science of Complexity is a newish (February 08) paper from the Overseas Development Institute […]

Read More »