Saving Lives Through Safer Roads (World Bank story) U.N. Decade of Action on Road Safety aims to save five million lives, prevent 50 million road injuries.
East Asia and Pacific
The New Year was not so happy in Queensland, Australia. In December 2010 and January 2011, floods swept across the state and at the beginning of February 2011, cyclone Yasi, a category 5 storm, struck near Cairns. Dozens died, hundreds were evacuated, thousands were affected and an excess of US$15 billion of damages were caused. A state of emergency was declared in all but one of the 75 councils. Seventy percent of the state was impacted; an area five times the size of the United Kingdom.
It is still too early to estimate with much precision the quantitative impacts of the devastating events in Japan on the global energy sector, as well as the effects on energy and economic activity in Japan. Nevertheless, some qualitative conclusions can be drawn about the near and medium effects on Japanese and global energy balances. Much more difficult and speculative are judgments about the effect of the nuclear accident that resulted from the natural disaster on the longer-term energy picture.
As coverage of the Arab Street’s awakening continues to dominate headlines, I find myself making further connections between the Middle Eastern, East Asian, and South African experiences. One intriguing common thread pertains to the role of the middle classes.
Roads are not sexy. You don’t see glossy ads pleading for people to sponsor a road. You don’t see the construction of a road moving global audiences to tears. There are no celebrities, concerts, wrist-bands for the road. I guess that is because for most people in the developed world, we take roads for granted.
Recently I spent some time around Kerema, which although only 350 km from the country’s capital, feels as one of the most remote and cut-off places in Papua New Guinea. Kerema is the Gulf’s provincial capital and, with its surrounding villages, it has been cut-off from the rest of the country due to a mere 67 km of mostly un-passable road. Under the Roads Maintenance and Rehabilitation Project, the World Bank has been supporting the Government of Papua New Guinea to restore the road. Today, the Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved the second phase of this project, which will see the rest of the road restored and paved to a proper national standard.
(Available in Chinese)
This is the first blog post I write after revisiting China’s recent economic developments, the outlook, and policy implications as part of writing our latest China Quarterly Update. After this general overview I will in a few days write one on some interesting medium term trends on relative prices and the relative importance of external trade in China’s economy (they are also discussed in the Quarterly).
The term “normalization” has been used a lot lately in relation to the composition of growth and macroeconomic policy stance, also in China. But it is hard to avoid it. During 2010, China’s composition of growth started to “normalize”—as in look like it typically does—after the spectacular developments in 2009, when a massive government-led domestic demand surge offset a huge contraction in exports. Later in 2010, the macroeconomic policy stance also started to “normalize”. I guess many of us use the word “normalization” to describe or prescribe a macro policy stance that would be in line with the “normalized” economic outlook, as opposed to a particularly tight stance.
Brain drain—the migration of talent across borders—has an impact on Malaysia’s aspiration to become a high-income nation. Human capital is the bedrock of the high-income economy. Sustained and skill-intensive growth will require talent going forward. For Malaysia to be successful in its journey to high income, it will need to develop, attract and retain talent. Brain drain does not appear to square with this objective: Malaysia needs talent, but talent seems to be leaving.
Higher prices have been making headlines in Thailand. Although wages and farm incomes are up, so are the prices of eggs, milk and fried rice. I am definitely feeling the pinch: the price of my favorite beverage—coconut water—has surged following a beetle infestation.
As prices go up, so does the pressure on the government to reign in the spiraling cost of living. But as we discussed in the recently released Thailand Economic Monitor - April 2011, the current inflation challenge is especially tough to tackle.
On the surface, the pace of life in the Pacific island country of Samoa is slow. Island time. That’s an impression that’s reinforced when touring the idyllic string of resorts and beach fales (small timber and thatch tourist cottages, often without walls and open to the tropical breeze) along the South East coast of Upolu, Samoa. You can watch the heat rise in a haze across the ridiculously tranquil blue waters and golden sands, as coconut palms wave, and tourists enjoy a weekend drink in the seafront restaurant of the locally-owned and recently rebuilt Tafua beach fales.
On the 26th of September 2003 my best friend Jonathan was killed in a car crash in Nairobi, Kenya in East Africa. Jonathan was only 19 years old and had just joined University three weeks prior to the road crash to pursue a degree in information technology. A speeding drunk driver rammed into the vehicle Jonathan was in; causing the car to spin out of control severally. Jonathan along with another friend, were killed on the spot.