Topic: General

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

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 […]

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How can NGOs influence states? Promoting education reform in Vietnam

From Poverty to Power argues that effective states and active citizens between them hold the key to unlocking development, but are states just too big and remote for NGOs to influence? I had some fascinating discussions on this at a workshop in Viet Nam a couple of weeks ago.

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Remember the development round? Belated reflections on the WTO Doha collapse

I was on holiday when the Doha round ran into the sand at the end of July (for more see here), but reading the reports brought back memories of previous collapses (a WTO speciality) in Seattle and Cancun. If you can get past the thickets of tradespeak, the subtexts to the latest collapse carry some […]

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It's Doha déjà vu (all over again)

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 […]

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Can states be built?

Do you read Prospect magazine? If not, why not? I don’t always agree with it, but it gets the intellectual juices flowing. The current (June) issue includes a counterintuitive piece on food prices (high prices do not increase global hunger – I disagree), a brilliant essay arguing that video games foster collaboration, not individualism, and best of all, a great, angry blast on how the wrong kind of aid has failed to build effective states, and has in fact often undermined them.

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Do development agencies need to look more like the private sector?

NGOs and others in the development sector spend a good deal of time beating themselves up about their many failings (listed in loving detail in the book). Recently, however, the private sector has picked up the baseball bat and got stuck in – arguing that all we need to do is adopt lean, efficient market […]

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Reshaping Economic Geography – the latest World Development Report

A helpful summary from my colleague Richard King of this year’s World Development Report – the World Bank’s flagship publication. The title is ‘Reshaping Economic Geography’ and Richard found it ‘exciting’. But then he’s a geographer – I found it hard going and fell asleep several times, but maybe that’s the jetlag…..

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Has China Kicked Away the Ladder from other Poor Countries?

China’s unique combination of vast workforce, rock-bottom wages, high literacy, good infrastructure and political control over labour makes it able to out-compete its industrial rivals. China has driven down the prices of most manufactured goods, to the benefit of consumers the world over, but undercutting other developing country exporters in the process. Although skill shortages […]

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

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 […]

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Meltdown Miscellany: stats and soundbites on the development impact

Here are a few of the things that have crossed my screen on the impact of the meltdown on developing countries. I would really appreciate suggestions for more sources on this – especially on the distributive impact within and between countries.

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What Happened at the G20 Summit on Saturday?

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 […]

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Agonizing over Aid

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, […]

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