The forty-year-old body with a mandate to fight poverty in Asia and the Pacific is at a crossroads. Most of its once poor clients are now among the fastest growing.
East Asia and Pacific
Since 1997, East Asia's aggregate output doubled to $5 billion and more than 200 million people transcended the $2 a day poverty line. Looking ahead, 9 out of 10 Asians may be living in a middle income economy by the end of the decade.
In an op-ed (subscription required), Nicholas Kristof places his bet:
You see up-and-coming cities like Hyderabad or Ahmedabad, and it’s easy to believe that India will eventually surpass China. But here in rural Bihar state in northern India, there’s no economic miracle to be seen.
Shangai's piano business is out of tune. Local police have stumbled over a cache of 5000 smuggled pianos. The smugglers go to court over $1 million in upaid customs revenue.
The microcredit movement has been built on the assumption that the poor need credit to invest in microenterprises, which will help them get out of poverty. Household survey data from Indonesia suggest otherwise, with substantial use of microcredit for consumption rather than investment purposes.
Virtual money, when backed by trust in the guarantor, can function like any other currency. QQ coins are online tokens, created by Chinese Internet company Tencent, that can be sold for cash on the Web. The Wall Street Journal writes: