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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 […]

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Is Daewoo the new East India Company?

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 […]

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So what do other people think of the book?

I’m nearing the end of the initial series of launches + discussions with NGOs in the UK (CAFOD, Christian Aid, World Vision, WaterAid, ActionAid) and at DFID (the UK’s development ministry). What’s emerging (apart from powerpoint poisoning)?

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Meltdowns compared: Financial v Climate Crises

Some highlights from a thought-provoking exchange with my colleague Sarah Best, who works on private sector and climate change issues. Similar causes · The roots of the financial crisis lie in a failure to properly assess risk (e.g. of sub-prime loans), an absence of proper oversight and regulation (e.g. of complex financial instruments) and consumption beyond […]

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Can we measure inequality of opportunity? The World Bank has a go.

The World Bank has come up with a ‘Human Opportunity Index’ which pulls together in a single composite indicator both how many opportunities (e.g. overall access to primary education, clean water etc) are available in a given country or region, and how equitably those opportunities are distributed between rich and poor. The idea is to […]

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Is the World Bank’s New Chief Economist a Heretic?

It’s not every day that you meet a man who swam across the Taiwan Strait to defect to China. Legend (or at least the World Bank’s press department) has it that Justin Lin was in his 20s when he did so in 1979 – he must have been a fit young man as it’s about […]

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What's the development debate like in Australia?

I’ve just finished a week of debates, seminars and book launches in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. My overall impressions include firstly the huge importance of policy debates over Australia’s Indigenous peoples on wider development thinking, not least because meetings in government, academia and NGOs now begin with the chair intoning variations on the formula ‘I […]

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A youtube's worth a thousand words

My kids introduced me to youtube, mainly through happy family moments watching unfortunate things happen to cats. But now Oxfam’s amazing audiovisual team have boiled down 500 pages of ‘From Poverty to Power’ into a 2 minute video. The team is led by film maker Sandhya Suri, who made an award-winning documentary about her family, […]

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