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Global Economy

Global Findex 2014: a bonanza of data on financial inclusion

Leora Klapper's picture
Fellow data geeks, today is your lucky day!
​Today we launch our report The Global Findex Database 2014: Measuring Financial Inclusion around the World and The 2014 Global Findex database, an updated edition of what is by far the world’s most comprehensive gauge of global progress on financial inclusion. You may also find the database on the Development Data Group's Data Catalog

Want to learn how many adults own a bank account worldwide? Right this way. What happens with the gender gap when you break it down by country and region? We’ve got the stats … Check.  Where is mobile money making the biggest inroads, and what are the impacts? Check ... Check. How do adults save and borrow money, as well as manage financial risk? Check … Check … Check!

Will South Asia make the most of cheap oil?

Markus Kitzmuller's picture

The world economy today presents itself as a diverse canvas full of challenges and opportunities. Advanced economies continue to struggle towards recovery, with the US on its way to tighten monetary policy as the economy picks up while a still weak Eurozone awaits quantitative easing to kick in. At the same time, plunging oil prices have set in motion significant real income shifts from exporters to importers of oil. Astonishingly, amidst all this turmoil, South Asia has emerged as the fastest growing region in the world over the second half of 2014. Led by a strong India, South Asia is set to further accelerate from 7 percent real growth in 2015 to 7.6 percent by 2017, leaving behind a slowing East Asia gradually landed in second spot by China.

While bolstered by record low inflation and strong external positions across the region, the biggest question yet to be addressed by policy makers in South Asia will be how to make the most of cheap oil.
All countries are net oil importers as well as large providers of fuel and related food subsidies, therefore bound to benefit from low oil prices. However, the biggest oil price dividend to be cashed in by South Asia is one yet to be earned, and not one that will automatically transit through government or consumer accounts. The current constellation of macroeconomic tailwinds provides a unique opportunity for policy makers to rationalize energy prices and to improve fiscal policy. Decoupling external oil prices from fiscal deficits may decrease vulnerability to future oil price hikes – something that may very well happen in the medium term. Furthermore, cheap oil offers a great opportunity to introduce carbon taxation and address the negative externalities from the use of fossil fuels.

The World Bank’s latest South Asia Economic Focus (April 2015) titled “Making the most of cheap oil” provides deeper insights regarding South Asia’s diverse policy challenges and opportunities stemming from cheap oil.
A first major realization is that the pass through from oil prices to domestic South Asian economies is as diverse as the countries themselves, thanks to a variety of different policy environments across countries and oil products. This is also reflected in recent dynamics, seeing India taking determined action towards rationalizing fuel and energy prices, even introducing a de facto carbon tax and beginning to reap fiscal and environmental benefits. Other countries have so far shown less or no enthusiasm towards reform, in spite of significant and/or increasing oil dependency (particularly in electricity generation, one of the region’s weak spots). 

History in the making: 'Policy relevance' and long perspective, with the Spring Meetings starting a series of summits

Christopher Colford's picture

History “is a critical science for questioning short-term views, complicating simple stories about causes and consequences, and discovering roads not taken. Historical thinking – and not just by those who call themselves historians – can and should inform practice and policy today. . . . History can upset the established consensus, expand narrow horizons, and ‘keep the powerful awake at night.’ In that mission lies the public future of the past.” -- "The History Manifesto"
Lace up your running shoes and summon your stamina: At the starting line of the Spring Meetings sprint, policymakers and economy-watchers are now poised for an adrenaline-fueled week of debates on diplomacy and development at the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund.
History hangs heavily over the Bank and Fund this week, amid an animating awareness that “2015 is the most important year for global development in recent memory,” as World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim declared in a speech last week at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. In an environment that has provoked dire warnings by the IMF’s Christine Lagarde about the danger of prolonged low-growth, high-unemployment “secular stagnation” – with “the new mediocre” threatening to become “the new normal” – this week’s meetings will be just the starting-point in a series of events in 2015 that could define the development agenda for decades.

A July conference in Addis Ababa will determine the financing mechanisms for future development initiatives. A September summit at the United Nations in New York will adopt a detailed set of Sustainable Development Goals. A December forum in Paris will adopt – or reject – a worldwide treaty to restrain climate change. Along the way, the Bank and Fund will convene policymakers – in Lima rather than Washington – for the Annual Meetings in October.

Pulling off a success at any one such summit would be a dramatic achievement. Delivering triumphs at all three summits might require masterstrokes of diplomacy.

“When we look at the longer-term picture,” said Kim in his CSIS speech, “we see that the decisions made this year will have an enormous impact on the lives of billions of people across the world for generations to come." The challenges that Kim and Lagarde analyzed in their pre-Spring Meetings speeches require “governments [to] seize the moment” – starting this week – if they hope for success in the Addis-UN-Paris trifecta.

Campaign Art: 805 million names with Zlatan Ibrahimović

Roxanne Bauer's picture

People, Spaces, Deliberation bloggers present exceptional campaign art from all over the world. These examples are meant to inspire.

There are around 805 million people facing hunger around the world, according to the State of Food Insecurity in the World 2014 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Of this total, more than 50% live in Asia and the Pacific, and around 25% live in Sub-Saharan Africa.  However, as a percentage of the population that are hungry, sub-Saharan Africa has the highest prevalence hungry people. Despite these startling figures, many people are unaware of the hunger many people face.

Zlatan Ibrahimović, one of the biggest stars in football, is working with the United Nations World Food Program to change that. On February 14, 2015, after playing against Caen, Zlatan removed his jersey to reveal 50 names he had (temporarily) tattooed on his body of people he’d never met but kept close.  They were the names of a few of the 805 million people suffering from hunger.  The World Food Programme campaign shows the detailed stories of victims of war, civil conflict and natural disasters through the personal stories of those named on Ibrahimović.   
805 Million Names with Zlatan Ibrahimović

Five reasons to act now to #endpollution

Paula Caballero's picture
Did you know that about 3.7 million people worldwide died in 2012 from diseases related to ambient air pollution? That is nearly the population of the city of Los Angeles expiring every year from preventable causes.

When you combine death-by-smog with deaths related to exposure to dirty indoor air, contaminated land and unsafe water, the grand total of deaths from all pollution sources climbs to almost 9 million deaths each year worldwide. That’s more than 1 in 7 deaths and makes pollution deadlier than malnutrition.
Photo via Shutterstock

This fact deserves to be better known, as there are ready solutions. Inaction is not an option.


Mongolia’s Transitions: from Baikhgui to Baigaa

Jim Anderson's picture
Sometimes insights come from unexpected sources. Ever since returning to Mongolia some months ago I have, naturally, been observing how things have changed since I last lived here in 1990s. Many of the changes are immediately recognizable and even foreigners arriving for the first time could guess that the high-rise buildings and cafes are new. But it was a chance conversation with a fellow foreigner that drove home just how dramatic those changes have been.
Mongolia's black market in 1994
Mongolia's black market in 1994
photo: James H. Anderson
When I moved to Mongolia in 1993, the first Mongolian word every foreigner learned was baikhgui. Not there; don’t have any; absent. With this simple utilitarian word, one could concisely express the verbal equivalent of a shake of the head.

“Do you have any bread?”
“What happened to the water/electricity/heat?”

Make 2015 a year of world trade action, says Anabel Gonzalez, head of the Bank Group's Trade & Competitiveness Global Practice

Julia Oliver's picture

 © WTO/Studio CasagrandeIn today's edition of EurActiv, Anabel Gonzalez, senior director of the World Bank Group's Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice, calls on the international community to watch out for the poor amid new momentum and excitement in the global trade landscape. 

Read the full opinion piece here: Make 2015 a year of world trade action.

Six reasons to do Citizen Engagement

Mario Marcel's picture
 Chhor Sokunthea / World Bank
Kampong Thom Province, Cambodia. Photo: Chhor Sokunthea / World Bank

Two weeks ago, we launched an exciting new Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Citizen Engagement hosted on Coursera and in partnership with the London School of Economics, the Overseas Development Institute, Participedia, and CIVICUS.

To date, over 15,000 people from 192 countries (45% women) have enrolled in the course and our digital footprint continues to be strong:  the launch event page has had over 2,500 unique visitors while many continue to use the hashtag #CitizensEngage on Twitter.
These healthy metrics are a strong indication of just how timely and significant this issue has become and is the latest reason why I firmly believe in the power of engaging citizens to build good governance. This MOOC therefore is a key component of the World Bank Group’s commitment to develop a citizen perspective on governance to improve the contribution of institutions to development.
Too often citizen engagement is seen with suspicion, skepticism or fear by policymakers. Yet let me offer six compelling reasons why it is necessary, feasible and useful to do it: