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The “Missing Middle” and the Growth of Social Enterprises

Aleem Walji's picture

SOCAP (via amsterdam.wordpress.the-hub.net)Every fall at Social Capital Markets (SOCAP), the who’s who of impact investing and social enterprise convene in San Francisco to network and share stories about topics like market-based solutions to poverty, social stock exchanges, and just how much capital is waiting to be deployed to solve the world’s toughest problems. It’s inspiring to be sure, especially the growth in the number and diversity of participation. It’s no longer the sole domain of Ashoka, Skoll, and Schwab who have paved the way for so many others. Today, mainstream Banks from Europe to Asia, fund managers, and wealth advisors are sending a signal that doing good and doing well is a more enlightened form of capitalism.

But behind all the feel-good energy and promises that impact investing will be a $50 billion industry by 2020, there are gaps in the story line and challenges that we must confront as a community. First, there is no clear definition of an impact investor. The industry brings together those who are primarily driven by a financial bottom line (finance first) with those who are seeking to optimize a social return without making a loss (impact first), and finally grant makers who are aiming to improve the efficiency of philanthropic capital (largely foundations). Their world views are different, their expected returns are different, and how they use the same vocabulary (e.g. impact, viability, and sustainability) varies widely.

On Aid and Growth – reflections ahead of Busan

Finn Tarp's picture

Not a month goes by without some sort of bad news about foreign aid. Examples of incompetence , abuse of funds by corrupt leaders, and distorted incentives abound. These stories fuel a deep skepticism of foreign aid. In this view, perverse effects dominate – and end up weakening, rather than encouraging, growth and development. If one accepts this view, then it is logical to turn off the poisoned tap of foreign aid. But are such views well founded?

The answer is no.

Reliable Supply Chains: An Answer to Competitiveness and Growth Challenges

Monica Alina Mustra's picture

In today’s interconnected world economy, efficient, reliable and cost-effective supply chains have become necessities in global trade. Trading in a timely manner with minimal transaction costs allows a country to expand to overseas markets and improve its overall economic competitiveness. For many countries, however, identifying bottlenecks along a supply chain and then determining which logistics procedures and infrastructure to upgrade can be a challenging feat.

Latin America’s growth prospects: Made in China?

Tatiana Didier's picture

Latin America's Growth prospects:Made in China?

Global turmoil. Growing prospects of another recession. Crisis in the Eurozone. China’s role as a global growth and recovery engine thrown into question.

The current situation looks worrying enough as it is for Latin America –and the rest of the world for that matter- but the region’s growth prospects should be looked at beyond the current juncture and on the merits of its long-term strengths.
 
Here’s why. The last ten years or so have been very good for many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. They have witnessed the consolidation of a stable and resilient
macro-financial framework, relatively high growth rates, and advances in the equity agenda.

This new economic face of the region was perhaps most clearly portrayed by a rather robust performance, especially of South American countries, in the context of the recent global crisis. In effect, compared to the middle-income country average, the region’s recession in 2009 was relatively short-lived and, with the notable exception of Mexico, remarkably mild, which helped to make its recovery in 2010-2011 stronger.

Investing in infrastructure is still the best bet to spur growth, jobs

Jordan Schwartz's picture

 Investing in infrastructure is still the best bet to spur growth, jobs

Every profession has its fantasy Triple-Win. For a gambler at the horse races, it’s the Trifecta. For musicians, it is a song that breaks hearts, moves feet and sells records. Yet even we geeks have our dreams. In the field of infrastructure, in Latin America and elsewhere, the ultimate triple-win is an investment that

1. spurs economic growth

2. contributes to social well-being, and

3. helps the environment.

“Impossible!” you say. “The laws of nature could not possibly allow for growth that contributes to society’s well-being without taxing our natural endowment.” Is there no way we can unstick ourselves from the Kuznets Curve and uncover investments that spur Green and Inclusive Growth?

Honduras: Are high food prices fueling child malnutrition?

Marie Chantal Messier's picture

 Honduras:are high food prices fueling child malnutrition?

 

Recently, I was once again confronted with a puzzling situation I have seen too often during the course of my career: flat growth curves for children. This especially worried me in light of the current context of rising food prices and global economic instability, and the impact that previous crises have had on the nutritional status of mothers and children.

Making the case for a knowledge economy in Haiti

Fritz-Gerald Louis's picture

Today, the growth potential of a country depends on the creativity, innovation and expertise of its citizens.

Strong international competition driven by globalization—between states, businesses and individuals—is fast increasing the importance of knowledge and education.

How will China’s external current account surplus evolve in the coming years?

Louis Kuijs's picture

How China’s current account surplus will evolve in the coming years is one of the key questions on the economic outlook, both for China itself and for the global economy. China’s increasingly competitive manufacturing sector will continue to power ahead, to expand exports and to gain global market share. At the same time, China’s domestic economy should continue to grow rapidly, thereby drawing imports. However, how this will on balance play out with regard to the current account surplus is less certain. It will largely depend on how much progress is made with rebalancing the economy.

China demographic decline will reduce future growth - Wang Feng

Sanket Mohapatra's picture

China's fertility rate is below replacement rate. But now economists say the phenomenon of fewer births is turning into a negative. The AP, Reuters and New York Times carry stories of Wang Feng, Director of the Brookings-Tsinghua Center for Public Policy. He says that China already had 14 percent fewer people in their 20s compared with a decade ago. In the next 20 years, he said, their numbers will dwindle an additional 17 percent, while the share of China’s population that is 65 and older is projected to double to 16 percent. Wang said the median age of the Chinese population is now 34 years old. He estimates that by 2050, half the population will be 50 or older, assuming the fertility rate is 1.6. By 2050, nearly one in four Chinese will be elderly, according to United Nations projections. The median age of Chinese will be higher than that of Americans by 2040.

China’s economic outlook and policy implications: normalization

Louis Kuijs's picture

(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.


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