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East Asia and Pacific

The price of monopolies in Tonga

Remittances are the second biggest component of international capital flows (after foreign direct investment). This makes it important to understand how the money gets from a to b - the senders, recipients, delivery channels and costs of remittances.

In the case of Tonga, in the south Pacific, remittances are a very big deal - making up one third of GDP. But the costs of remittances (15-20% of the typical amount remitted) are also among the highest in the world.

Sustainability revealed

SustainAbility has released a new tool for reviewing, analyzing and benchmarking sustainability reporting by companies. "Learn from the leaders" is a database of reports organized by sector, region or issue – from the likes of BP, Nike, and Shell. Also useful for companies trying to figure out how to create their own reports.

Funding what the donor intended

In the World Bank working paper titled "Fungibility and the flypaper effect of project aid: micro-evidence for Vietnam" released earlier this month Dominique van de Walle and Ren Mu ask about the degree to which the donors get what they paid for. The authors examine the World Bank project to rehabilitate 5,000 kilometers of district and commune level roads in Vietnam:

Market forces for mobsters too

In a twist to the labor market flexibility debate, the Financial Times reports dramatically more flexible working hours in the Japanese underworld. Japanese police reveal over 50 percent of gang members are now "part-time," opting out of the hierarchical world of full-time mobsterhood – compared to 30% in the regular economy.