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March 2019

Keeping it clean: Can blockchain change the nature of land registry in developing countries?

Sebastian Kriticos's picture

The global economy is constantly exposed to disruptive technologies. Take the example of telecommunications: it was not long ago that everything revolved around landlines. Households would go to great lengths to ensure they were well-serviced with fixed-line infrastructure, while those left out endured long travel times for everyday activities like managing a business or connecting with family and friends. Those days are a bygone era. The mobile phone changed everything.  

Moonshot Africa and jobs

Pinelopi Goldberg's picture

Is new technology “transformative” or “disruptive”?  I’ve heard this topic hotly debated at meetings both within the World Bank and more broadly.  The issue is not just linguistic hair-splitting.  Technology optimists prefer the first term and see new technologies, digitization in particular, as an opportunity for low-income developing countries to leapfrog into the 21st century. Moonshot Africa, an ambitious World Bank initiative to connect individuals, firms, and governments in Africa to fast internet is inspired by this vision. Technology pessimists on the other hand emphasize the disruptive effects digital technologies are expected to have on labor markets. Concerns about robots and algorithms replacing human labor increasingly dominate the public debate not only in advanced economies, but also in emerging and developing economies. Against this background, it is natural to ask how these two views are compatible. To be more specific: How will Moonshot Africa create jobs on a continent where job creation is needed more than anywhere else in the world with Africa’s working-age population projected to rise by 70% in the next twenty years?

It all comes down to money: Corporate income tax reform and the need for more information

Davida Connon's picture

The OECD’s Inclusive Framework on base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS), which includes over 125 countries, is debating four proposals for corporate tax reform, to update the global tax system to the digitalizing economy. Over 2000 pages of public comments have been filed with the OECD and livestreamed, public meetings were recently held in Paris. The “first pillar” of options require significant reforms to legal rules to allocate more taxable profits to market countries, irrespective of corporate physical presence. The debate is interesting, but these negotiations were born out of public outrage regarding fairness—the sense that the pie of corporate profits is not divided equitably between shareholders and governments, or between nations. It’s the financial (and administrative) implications that we need to talk about.

The World Bank’s Land and Poverty Conference: 20 years on

Klaus Deininger's picture

Also available in Español |Français

In 1999, when a few enthusiasts agreed to meet annually in an effort to base interventions on land, on solid empirical evidence rather than ideology, few would have expected this effort to have such a lasting impact. Twenty years on, the small gathering has morphed into a conference, bringing together over 1,500 participants from governments, academics, civil society and the private sector to discuss the latest research and innovations in policies and good practice on land governance around the world.

Think local, act local: Working with civil society for better development outcomes in Burkina Faso

Marcus Holmlund's picture

We love local. Whether it’s buying vegetables directly from your local farmer, frequenting a neighborhood business, or working as a community activist, many of us believe that solutions to some of our most pressing problems lie at least in part in a small series of actions taken from the ground up. This may be especially true in countries with limited state capacity, where community-based organizations (CBOs) are often among the highest-functioning entities at the local level. In some settings, producer cooperatives or savings and credit groups, for example, have stronger financial management capacity than local governments. Parent-teacher organizations, women’s associations, hometown associations, or other membership-based groups can be highly effective community mobilizers.

Why we need a research department

Pinelopi Goldberg's picture

After a brief hiatus, the office of the Chief Economist of the World Bank Group was reunited last week with DEC, the well-known Research Department of the World Bank. This led me to reflect on a question often posed to policy institutions as well as the private sector: Why do we need research departments outside academia? 
 
Before attempting to answer this question, it is worth noting that research departments are common in top firms in the private sector. By research, I do not mean simple data gathering and processing, but rather the creation of original, innovative insights.  AT&T famously had Bell Labs.  Technology leaders from IBM to Microsoft to Amazon, Facebook, and Google have all funded basic research. Google has Google X, despite being located only a few miles from Stanford.  A strong research lab is a sign of company health and power.  Conversely, the shrinking of the research department often signals the demise of the company. And, of course, the phenomenon is not confined to tech.
 
The fact that these highly efficient companies choose to spend millions to support research departments reinforces the puzzle: Why not focus on engineering and application of knowledge and outsource the creation of fundamental knowledge, of primary research, to academia?

Process makes perfect: improving tax compliance and tax administration through behavioral insights

Jonathan Karver's picture

To a United States citizen, the Internal Revenue Services (IRS) might seem like the La Llorona -the Spanish-speaker’s response to the Boogeyman -of public administration. They come after those of us dilly dallying with our accounts and are much better at seeking than we are at hiding. But should paying taxes really feel like La Llorona is coming after you? Evidence from three experimental tax trials in Kosovo would seem to suggest that behaviorally informed tools can increase voluntary tax compliance and especially improve the workings of a tax administration without resorting to fear. So how does behavioral science inform tax compliance?

Commodity prices rose modestly in February–Pink Sheet

John Baffes's picture

Energy commodity prices increased nearly 5 percent in February, led by oil (+8 percent), the World Bank’s Pink Sheet reported.

Non-energy prices gained 2 percent, in response to large price increases in metals and minerals.

Agricultural prices changed little, as increases in food and raw material prices (+0.5 percent each) were balanced by declines in beverages (-1.3 percent).

Fertilizer prices declined more than 2 percent, led by an 8 percent slide in DAP.

We want to hear from you about the World Development Report 2020 — Global Value Chains: Trading for Development

Pinelopi Goldberg's picture

Last month I announced that the 2020 World Development Report (WDR2020) will focus on global value chains (GVCs) and what they mean for development. Does participating in GVCs promote development? Why are some low-income developing countries reaping the benefits and others not? What can countries do to gain from trade and GVCs, particularly when new technologies are bringing change and the global status quo is in a state of flux? You can read my recent blog post for a summary of the Report’s objectives or read the Concept Note directly.