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November 2011

Viewpoint on a rising dragon

Justin Yifu Lin's picture

As a counterpoint to grim forecasts coming out of Europe, I am hopeful that we can anticipate an Asian century where China will grow dynamically for another 20 years. Yet there are caveats to this optimistic scenario: Success in China will require a process of continual transformation and the wherewithal to tackle what I describe as a triple imbalance at the national level. I expound on this and other points in a BBC viewpoint piece published on November 23.

Is the West Being Taken Over by the Rest?

Shahrokh Fardoust's picture

Renowned British economic historian Niall Ferguson in his new and dazzling history of Western ideas, Civilization: The West and the Rest, argues as his central thesis that the West developed six killer “apps”—referring to the popular software applications for smartphones and tablets—that caused the West to dominate the global stage for the last 500 years. These key institutions and complexes of ideas, such as “competition,” “property rights,” “the Work Ethic,” were what led the West to preside (relatively unchallenged) over global politics, economics, and culture, despite the fact that the civilizations of the Orient were much more advanced than Western Europe in the 1400s, which was plagued by disease and war. Over time, however, the West has become, as Ferguson puts it, a “template” for the Rest (i.e. non-Western countries), which have been copying (or downloading) the apps and are now on the verge of overtaking the West in terms of economic strength and size, led  by China.

A Thanksgiving guide to the top World Bank blogposts of 2011

Adam Wagstaff's picture

Here’s some reading material for Thanksgiving in the event you get some time to yourself. The list below of the Bank’s most-read 100 blog posts in 2011 contains some real gems.

Before you start reading, you might be curious how the Bank’s 26 English-language blogs compare to one another in terms of the number of blog posts they have in the top-50, top-100, and top-200. In Table 1 below, I’ve been a bit strict: I haven’t counted announcements of reports, events, etc. as a post. Several blogs come out at the top – and bottom – irrespective of where you draw the cutoff; some, however, are more sensitive to the cutoff point.
I’d be curious how many of the top-100 you get through before you get hauled back to the living room for another game of charades.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Questions from Germany: China Writ Large

Justin Yifu Lin's picture

I was in Berlin a few weeks ago and did an interview with Tagesspiegel and wanted to share it in English with readers, as interest in China is so strong these days. I think this Question and Answer session with the journalist Harald Schumann reflects well the questions many Europeans have on their minds...

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Der Tagesspiegel Interview by Harald Schumann
November 21, 2011

“Even China has to step on the breaks” // World Bank Chief Economist Justin Yifu Lin about the effect  of the debt crisis on the world economy, China’s reserves and the Communists’ flexibility.

Mr. Lin, as a result of the debt crisis in some euro-states, Europe risks to sink back into a recession. What effect will this have on the world economy?

Are the Knowledge Bank’s assets actually being used? The case of the World Bank’s Human Development sector

Adam Wagstaff's picture

According to its first-ever Knowledge Report, published earlier this year, the World Bank spends over $600 million a year on “core knowledge services” – research, economic and sector work, technical assistance, “knowledge management”, training, and the like. Yet as the authors of report concede, precious little is known about the impact of this spending.

In a post on this blog last year, I reported on some work that Martin Ravallion and I did on a subset of the Bank’s knowledge portfolio – formal publications. We found the publications portfolio is larger than typically thought: the Bank’s Documents and Reports (D&R) database excludes the vast majority of journal articles authored by Bank staff, and there are as many of these as there are books and other formal publications published by the Bank. We also tried to look at the impact of the Bank’s publications on development thinking, which we measured using citations in Google Scholar. We found that, despite a view by some that the Bank is more a proselytizer than a producer of new knowledge, a lot of Bank publications do get cited a lot, suggesting that these publications contain new knowledge that’s considered useful by others.

Food Prices, Nutrition and the Millennium Development Goals

Jos Verbeek's picture

How are communities around the world coping with the higher and more volatile food prices? What is the impact on poverty, or on nutritional outcomes? And, how should policymakers respond to such price spikes that can eat away at already-tight budgetary resources?

These are only some of the questions that a key World Bank-IMF report is delving into as it provides an annual assessment on progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as well as the challenges which developing countries face in achieving them. 

More than we expected: what we would like to know about Conditional Cash Transfers—Part II

Emanuela Galasso's picture

A week ago we hosted an informal workshop with some academic researchers, policymakers and World Bank staff to review "The second generation of evaluations" of CCT programs. Yesterday's post recounted where we stand with respect to 'Opening the Black Box', parsing out what we can about which design features help to produce the human capital impacts that are one of the programs' twin goals. Today we summarize the rest of the discussion.

More than we expected: what we would like to know about Conditional Cash Transfers—Part I

Emanuela Galasso's picture

A week ago we hosted an informal workshop with some academic researchers, policymakers and World Bank staff to review "The second generation of evaluations" of CCT programs. We finally have the website, where you can see all the presentations made available by the authors and video of the event. Two posts in the Development Impact blog (here and here) go into more detail on the effectiveness of conditions — their theory, evidence and the conflicting values around them. In blog posts today and tomorrow we’ll summarize discussion of the whole workshop. Today we introduce it and focus on the human capital formation side of things. Tomorrow we consider the poverty reduction objective, how CCTS are working in low income countries, and some "new frontiers" with respect to considering behavior, governance, supply, costs, and wider social protection strategies.

Cannes Summit: Building Foundations for Growth

Zia Qureshi's picture

Much of the attention at the Cannes summit this week will be focused on addressing the crisis in the eurozone. But as president Zoellick emphasized in his press teleconference yesterday, the summit should aim to go beyond the immediate crisis-response actions to build some foundations for future growth. A focus on growth is the central theme of a report the Bank released yesterday as an input to the discussions in Cannes. The report conveys the following main messages:

  • The global economy has entered a dangerous phase that threatens to stall economic recovery in advanced economies. Weaker growth in these economies and financial turmoil also threaten growth in developing countries that has been an engine driving the global economy. These developments call for a renewed G20 focus on growth. Actions to address immediate risks to financial stability must be complemented by actions to strengthen the foundations for global growth.