If you hadn't heard, Doing Business 2009 is out. And now we can get some extra insight into the countries that have been reforming. Penelope Brook, Director of the Indicators Analysis Department, is visiting some of the top reformer countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and she'll be sending back dispatches during her trip.
Eastern Europe and Central Asia
The Financial Times hosted an interesting debate recently on the possibility of setting an upper limit on aid, a summary of which appears in today's print edition. The debate was prompted by Adrian Wood, a professor of international development at Oxford, who wrote an article proposing that aid donors should limit the amount of aid to any particular country at 50 percent of tax revenue. Many chimed in, including the inveterate critic of aid William Easterly, Tony Addison, Robert Wade, and others.
Google just released its own browser, Chrome, to compete with Internet Explorer. Daniel Altman on the International Herald Tribune blog argues that it may just turn out to be the developing world's browser. Now, Google has just announced it is supporting the development of a system of satellites to provide internet access to regions without fast fiber networks.
Communism failed to do it - can capitalism do any better? So far, the answer is not clear. I'm referring to the integration of the Romani minority into the mainstream of eastern Europe's transition countries. For those not familiar with this topic, 'Roma' is the polite term used in place of the more common 'Gypsy'.
The staycation - an ugly neologism for the decision of many American consumers to stay at home this summer, instead of heading to Disney World or some beach resort. Rising food and gas prices have led to hard times for much of America's tourism industry, as this article in Slate points out. But it looks like Americans aren't the only ones resorting to a staycation.
While Russia has experienced sustained growth for years now, much of its economic success can be attributed to its energy resources. Sustained and equitable growth in the long run will depend on the development of other sectors of the economy - and Putin has decided to throw his support behind reforms to improve the business environment for small and medium enterprises. According to the Moscow Times:
I suppose after the attention it got with the Big Mac Index, the Economist couldn't help but continue to rely on mass-produced food items as economic indices.