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August 2012

Blame It on Rio

John Garrison's picture

Unlike the 1984 movie “Blame it on Rio”, which attributed a bawdy affair between a middle-aged man (played by Michael Cain) and a teenager on the tropical vibes of the stunningly beautiful city, the recent hosting of the Rio +20 Conference served to showcase a different face of the Rio ambience -- its global environmental leadership role.  The city not only maintains the world’s two largest urban forests, Pedra Branca and Tijuca (see photo), but has just completed a state of the art waste treatment center which will allow for a 8% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and are installing 300 kilometers of bicycle lanes.  For the World Bank, the city has been the setting for the improbable significant improvement in relations between the Bank and environmental CSOs over the past 20 years.

When Rio hosted the original UN Conference on Environment and Development in 1992, the Bank participated with a small staff delegation and its modest publications booth at the parallel NGO “Global Forum” held on Flamengo Beach was set on fire by environmental activists.  They were protesting the Bank’s financing of the Narmada Dam project in India, which threatened to displace hundreds of thousands of small farmers without a fair and sustainable resettlement plan in place.  Some were expressing disapproval of the Polonoroeste project funded by the Bank in Brazil where the paving of a highway linking two Amazonian state capitals led to widespread deforestation in the 1980s.  

Market Access: A Key Determinant of Economic Development in Sub-Saharan Africa

Harry Garretsen's picture

Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is home to the world’s poorest countries. The region’s geographical disadvantages are often viewed as an important deterrent to its economic development. A country’s geography directly affects economic development through its effect on disease burden, agricultural productivity or the availability of natural resources. However, the new economic geography (NEG) literature, initiated by Krugman (1991), highlights another mechanism through which geography affects prosperity.

Foreigners vs. Natives: Bank Lending Technologies and Loan Pricing

Thorsten Beck's picture

The past two decades have seen a large increase in foreign bank entry across the globe, a trend that has been especially strong in the transition countries of Central and Eastern Europe and in Latin America. The effects of foreign bank participation on lending to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have been a controversial issue among academics and policy makers alike. Critical issues in this debate have been different clienteles and lending techniques of domestic and foreign banks.  Most prominently, Mian (2006) shows that clients of foreign banks in Pakistan are of larger size, more transparent, in larger cities and more likely to be foreign-owned, inferring from that the lending techniques foreign banks apply.  This analysis, however, confounds two effects – differences in clientele and differences in lending techniques. Do foreign banks use different lending techniques because they have different clienteles or do they use different lending techniques even for the same customers of domestic banks? In recent work with my Tilburg colleagues Vasso Ioannidou and Larissa Schäfer, we use data from the Bolivian credit registry and focus on a sample of firms that borrow from domestic and foreign banks in the same month to isolate the effects of different lending techniques of banks of different ownership (Beck, Ioannidou and Schäfer, 2012).

Why Training Day Matters: An Investigative Journalism Program in Zambia

Uwimana Basaninyenzi's picture

With the growing number of journalism training programs being conducted in the developing world, it would be interesting to know how these programs are designed and assessed. For instance, are they focusing on the right success factors? Are they comprehensive or strategic enough? As stated by Shanthi Kalathil in her how-to-guide on media development, “a program that plunks down a sum of money for ‘training journalists’ then measures success by the number of journalists trained is unlikely to have a substantive impact.” Instead, she recommends piecing together a series of programmatic activities shaped by strategic insight into the country’s media sector. This is precisely what the World Bank’s Governance Team in Zambia did with an investigative journalist training program in Zambia.

How Tweet it is: Metro Manilans rise above the floods with Information and Communication Technology

Artessa Saldivar-Sali's picture



After reading a World Bank publication about leveraging ICT for development, I wondered how Manilenos used their social networks to remain resilient to the devastating floods of the past weeks. In a country with a per capita income that is only 56% of the East Asia & Pacific regional average, the data for ICT penetration is astounding (although anybody who knows how popular SMS is in the Philippines might not be surprised):

My curiosity piqued, and wanting to find out how my friends were holding up, I set up a (highly unscientific) poll of my Facebook network to find out how social media, mobile communication, and ICT are used by Metro Manilans during disasters.  The following are just a few examples of the answers:

Food price shocks and low-income countries

Hans Lofgren's picture

The current US drought and its emerging effects on food markets underscore the timeliness and importance of this year’s Global Monitoring Report (GMR), which focused on international food prices, nutrition, and MDGs. One key message of the report, which should be taken on board when the emerging crisis is assessed, is that the effects of changes in international food prices depend on the time frame and on country characteristics, most importantly on shares of domestic supply that are exported or imported and the related issue of the extent to which domestic and international markets are linked. While it is possible for governments to mitigate the effects of international price changes, this can be quite costly, requiring higher taxes, more borrowing, or less spending in other areas, giving rise to difficult trade-offs between various competing development objectives. However, for most countries, given that food trade represents a small share of food supplies and demands, domestic conditions determine to a large extent whether sufficient food is available at prices that are affordable also for the less fortunate – it depends on household incomes and the ability of the agricultural sector to ramp up production. It is important not to exaggerate the role of international markets, especially beyond the short run, when farmers have had the opportunity to respond to international price developments.

Learning from China’s rise to escape the Middle-Income trap

Volker Treichel's picture

Latin America’s economic performance has been improving steadily over the past decade.  Driven by high commodity prices and capital inflows, growth rose above that in the G7 and also helped for the first time to reduce poverty and high income inequality. More than 70 million Latin Americans were lifted out of moderate poverty between 2003 and 2012 and at least 12 countries in the region experienced non-trivial declines in their income Gini coefficients.  In parallel, the middle classes expanded and, as a result, income inequality fell throughout the region. The effectiveness of Latin America's economic reforms since 2000 was evidenced by the resilience of its economies during the recent crisis. In fact, the region's recession was relatively short-lived, and with the exception of Mexico, remarkably mild, partly as a result of effective counter-cyclical monetary, fiscal and credit policies made possible as a result of the sustained macroeconomic stabilization since 2000.  Yet, Latin America remains trapped in a middle income status and has made little progress in converging to the per capita incomes of advanced countries (Figure 1).

Education Wonkwar: The Final Salvo. Kevin Watkins responds to Justin Sandefur on Public v Private

Duncan Green's picture

The posts are getting longer, so it’s probably a good time to call a halt, but at least you had the weekend to read Kevin Watkins‘ response to Justin Sandefur on private v public education provision. If you have even more time, it’s worth reading (and relishing) the whole exchange: Justin post 1; Kevin post 1; Justin post 2 and now this.

Dear Justin,

Thank you for the response. I’d also like to thank Duncan for setting up the discussion, along with the many people, on both sides of the debate, who have contributed their ideas and experiences. Whatever our differences, I think all of us share a conviction that decent quality education has the power to transform lives, expand opportunities, and break the cycle of poverty. There is no greater cause, or more important international development challenge, than delivering on the promise of decent quality education for all children.

Quote of the Week: Nandan Nilekani

Sina Odugbemi's picture

"Well, I think the way I see it simply is in the private sector the number of people you're to come into is much less. You convince your management team, your board, your investors, your analysts and you go and do something, go in new direction, buy a company, whatever.

In the public space, you are answerable to a lot more stakeholders, the government, parliament, bureaucracy, activists, journalists, the judicial system, the investigators. So I think what I learned is the amount of time you are to invest in evangelizing and consensus building is hugely more in the public space. And crafting a strategy which is sort of acceptable to everybody really takes a great deal of time. And that's where the big difference to me between the two worlds."

 

-Nandan Nilekani, Author of Imagining India and Co-founder of Infosys

-As quoted in an interview on Fareed Zakaria GPS, July 1, 2012


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