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Friday Roundup – Inequality, Biofuel Prices, Exchange Rates and Keynes vs Austerity

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Three new Policy Research Working papers, a Project Syndicate piece by Ken Rogoff, and an Eduardo Porter column in the New York Times, titled ‘A Keynesian Victory, but Austerity Stands Firm,’ made for an interesting week.

A working paper published this week by Milanovic Branko uses multiple techniques to gauge how close measured inequality is to the maximum inequality that can exist in a given society.  Looking at historical data tracing back several centuries, Branko finds that inequality in colonies was pushed almost to its maximum. Branko also looks beyond inequality as measured by income inequality to inequality in social terms.

Harry de Gorter, Dusan Drabik and Govinda Timilsina have a working paper on the relationship between volatility in crude oil prices, biodiesel and oilseeds (soy beans and canola).  They find that higher crude oil prices increase biodiesel prices if biofuels benefit from a fuel tax exemption, but lower them when a blending mandate is imposed.  When both canola and soybeans are used to produce biodiesel, an increase in the crude oil prices lead to higher canola prices, but the effect on soybean prices is ambiguous.

Friday Roundup: Social Enterprise, Collective Actions, Gross Capital Flows, and Economic History

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About 70% of India's salt comes from the state of Gujarat, where about 70,000 self-employed small-scale salt workers/producers often have to borrow money from exploitative lenders-cum-traders who fix a low price for the salt. However, this might be changing. A social enterprise initiative, called “Sabras,” now allows salt producers to borrow money at a much lower rate. To learn more about this, read the article from the Guardian.

In search of a truly global partnership on development, post-2015

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The following blog post is an excerpt of a speech delivered by Pascal Lamy at the ‘Conference on International Cooperation in 2020’, held in The Hague on 7 March 2013.
 
The current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have roughly a thousand days to go before their end-2015 target date. The significance of the MDGs lies first and foremost in the fact that they gave the world a shared development agenda. They identified a set of shared goals around which we could collectively mobilize and they established time-bound goalposts for progress, many with quantifiable targets, against which we could measure our performance.

But beyond these targets and goals, the MDGs placed poverty reduction at the top of the global agenda. In doing so, they reshaped policy priorities, galvanizing the attention and interest of governments, international organizations, the private sector, and individuals.

FridayRoundup: Africa's TMM, Reputational Rankings, Bono, and Spending on Food

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Whether Africa is ‘catching up’ or ‘is not catching up enough’ with economic development, it’s definitely lagging behind in Technical Maverick Movements (TMM). Taking a cue from the ‘economic transformation’ model, Bright B. Simon writes, “Technical Maverick Movements (TMMs) when they become part of the establishment are adept at harnessing power…… You either shift or you don’t”. Read the post on FT.com and find out why there is no middle way for Africa’s path to competitiveness.

Many readers are probably familiar with the rankings of the top Universities worldwide by quality of education. But have you checked out their reputational ranking? California Institute of Technology may be the place to study in 2103, but reputation-wise, it’s not so high. Find the entire list here.

Friday Roundup: International Women’s Day, Water ATMs and Crop Research

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As we celebrate the 102nd International Women’s Day today, what do women of the world hope to achieve this year? An end to gender-based violence. The Guardian has put together a page to highlight the voices from all over the globe on tackling violence and discrimination against women. Read them all here on this interactive page.

While on the subject of Women’s Day, where is best place to be a working woman in the rich world? Apparently, the answer is New Zealand. The Economist has compiled a “glass-ceiling index” to show where women have the best chance of equal treatment at work. See the index here, which compares data from 26 countries.

Friday Roundup: Rural Programmes, Middle-Income Trap, Slums in Africa, Currency Wars, and Open States

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By encompassing social, political, and feudal factors in development, Rural Support Programmes have enjoyed success in India and Pakistan for the past 30 years. Why did they work? For one, the approach acknowledges that ‘one size doesn’t fit all’ and second, it looks for a holistic growth. Read the article on the Guardian to find out how communities can unlock their own potential.

What is a middle-income trap? The concept has been quite popular for some time, but only recently has been tested and defined. The concept broadly defines the fast-growing economies that suffered steep slowdown, and hence their dilemma of being caught between poverty and prosperity. There has been a lot of debate on poverty or prosperity, but it has substantially benefitted from work done by Barry Eichengreen, Donghyun Park, and Kwanho Shin. Read the post on Free Excgange to get an insight on their work.

Friday Roundup: Intergenerational Mobility; Trade and Poverty; India’s Trading Partners, and UHC

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Gary Solon’s work on “Intergenerational Income Mobility in the United States,” not only questioned the previously existing consensus of highly mobile American households, but also concluded that the correlation between a father’s earnings and his son’s might be at least 0.4 or higher. Years after his work, new studies have been emerging and suggest that the 0.4 correlation might be a bit too optimistic. In this vein, how can we tackle the issue of  inter-generational social immobility? The Free Exchange blog has enlisted Miles Corak, Gregory Clark, and World Bank’s Francisco Ferreira to comment on the field. Read the summary and expert remarks here.

There is often talk about how trade harms the poor, especially in closed economies. However, evidence suggests otherwise. In a recent World Bank Policy Research Working Paper, Raju Jan Singh and Maelan Le Goff find that, trade does tend to reduce poverty, in specific settings. Read Raju’s blog post to know more.

Friday Roundup: Currency wars, Microfinance, Future Orientation Index, Remittances

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Currency wars actually have some redeeming impact, argues Matthew O’Brien in The Atlantic. Read it here.

A lively debate is under way on David Roodman’s Microfinance Open Book Blog.


According to the “Future Orientation Index” created by academics from University College London (UCL) and Warwick University, the number of searches on Google for ‘future’ are an indication of a nation’s -- or its citizen’s -- forward thinking. By analyzing more than 45 billion Google queries, the index ranks Germany as the most forward thinking nation in 2012. If you are curious about others, take a look here

Friday Roundup: Climate Change, China, Cash Transfers & Bill's Letter

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With warnings on the effects of climate change becoming starker with every passing day, good news came in the form of a story that the world's biggest seed banks are getting funding to help protect and develop new varieties of seeds resistant to climate change and other threats.

More sobering was a post by the World Bank's Phil Hay about Mozambique's recent devastating floods and public sector measures to help the country recover.

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