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February 2015

Friday Round up: Financial Services for the Poor, India’s Budget, Worldwide Nutrition, HIV/AIDS and Behavior, Basu to deliver Amartya Sen lecture

LTD Editors's picture
Microcredit has been both praised and criticized as a development tool.  In a Financial Services for the Poor conference hosted by CGAP, IPA, J-PAL, and the World Bank, researchers, practitioners, and thought leaders examine and discuss the lessons and implications of the latest research on microcredit.

​Are mega-trade agreements a threat to Brazil?

Otaviano Canuto's picture
The landscape of international trade negotiations has been undergoing an upheaval. On the multilateral level, after 15 years of unsuccessful attempts to close the Doha Development Round at the World Trade Organization (WTO), the negotiation system has shown to be highly vulnerable to blockades by any small group of member countries. The complex web of diverse individual country objectives, cutting across several interrelated themes, made reaching a deal harder than originally expected.

How much is the second generation biofuels technology worth to society?

Jevgenijs Steinbuks's picture
Second generation (2G) liquid biofuels are seen as a promising future technology for meeting global energy demand in the transportation sector, which is currently dominated by fuels derived from crude oil. Life cycle analyses demonstrate that 2G biofuels offset considerably more carbon emissions than corn based ethanol, and environmental advocates see them as a way of reducing the global carbon footprint, especially in the aviation sector, where low carbon alternatives to biofuels do not yet exist.

Experiencing development: fast cars and fast cash

Bilal Zia's picture
In a new paper published in the World Bank Working Paper Series: “Debiasing on a Roll: Changing Gambling Behavior through Experiential Learning” (WPS #7195, February 2015), my co-authors and I study how we can start using insights from the biology of the human mind to better understand and facilitate learning of key development concepts especially among illiterate populations in poor countries.

Making the case for case studies in development practice

Michael Woolcock's picture
The frequency and sophistication with which case studies are deployed by social scientists has greatly expanded in recent years. The goal now is not merely to document or describe, but to diagnose, explain, interpret, and inform a basis for action. Professional schools across the disciplines – from medicine and engineering to business and public policy – now routinely use ‘the case method’ not only to teach but to generate practical knowledge.
 

Geographical poverty traps in rural areas: A growing global problem

Edward B. Barbier's picture
More than one-third of the rural population in developing countries lives on less-favored agricultural land, according to global spatial datasets from 2000. How, then, does this distribution influence the incidence of poverty in these countries? 

Reflections on social protection and poverty alleviation from the long term impact of Chile Solidario

Emanuela Galasso's picture
Productive inclusion is the buzzword taking shape in social policy circles in Latin America, and other middle income countries. Graduation out of social assistance does not equate with (or presume) a sustained exit from poverty.

As many middle-income countries are moving towards embracing cash transfers with or without co-responsibilities attached (and the recent hype of handing cash directly to the poor), there is an important wave of programs that provide “cash plus” intervention.

​Open skies over the Middle East

Russell Hillberry's picture
Thirty years ago, most international travel was routed through national “gateway” airports in cities like New York, London or Tokyo.  Someone travelling between secondary cities such as Atlanta and Manchester would typically make two plane changes en route.  Due in part to changes in international aviation policies, travelers from those same secondary cities now have direct flights to many more international locations.
 

Love, money, and old age in China

L.Colin Xu's picture
Love is supposed to be pure and unconditional. A recent study by Ginger Jin, Fali Huang and I suggests that love is complicated: the amount of love achieved may depend on whether you or your parents found your spouse, and whether you are part of a family where old age support needs to be provided by children.

The Social Observatory Field Notes: Documenting the stories of Self-Help Group (SGH) leaders

Shruti Majumdar's picture

Location: Sarfuddinpur, Bihar
December 2014
 
In June this year, I was in Sarfuddinpur, a village in Muzaffarpur district in north-central Bihar. This was my tenth round of qualitative data collection in this village and I wanted to document the stories of a few Self-Help Group, or SHG, leaders; Shakuntala Devi was one of them. I first observed her presiding over an SHG meeting under the village peepal tree in July 2013. She was expertly facilitating a discussion with other SHG members around loans, but also around child health issues and the challenges faced by women in the marketplace. She disciplined free riders and rewarded contributors with a respected leader’s ease. Since then, I have seen her conduct many other meetings.
 

Can Government spending Encourage Entrepreneurship?

Asif Islam's picture
A fairly robust finding is that total government spending is negatively correlated with entrepreneurship. The proposed rationale for this relationship falls under either one of two categories. The first is that government spending is a proxy for government size. Under this scenario high level of government spending implies high levels of government involvement both in terms of burdensome regulations and crowding out of the private sector; both factors considered to be detrimental towards entrepreneurship.

How to Reverse the Post-Crisis Slowdown of Growth in Emerging Economies?

Aristomene Varoudakis's picture
Growth in emerging economies has slowed over the past three years, something being discussed with urgency at the G20 meetings in Istanbul, Turkey. Part of the slowdown is cyclical, but a significant part reflects sluggish potential growth. Using new empirical evidence, this column argues that ambitious structural reforms can fully offset the slowdown of potential growth in emerging economies. Reforms that remove barriers to open markets and improve access to finance play a key role in revitalizing total factor productivity growth and boosting private investment.

Friday Round up: Basu on big trends in development economics, Pritchett skewers aid, Krozer on inequality, legal identity as development goal

LTD Editors's picture
In a discussion hosted by Ideas for India, titled ‘Big and small ideas in development economics: Theory, evidence and practice,’ Kaushik Basu says some of the extreme thinking in the economics profession that was ideologically rooted without having enough grounds has become very weak.

Latin American Corporate Finance: Is There a Dark Corner?

Otaviano Canuto's picture

Since last year there has been much talk of possible financial stress stemming from increased debt leverage in non-financial corporates of emerging markets economies. A recent study has brought to light some key evidence on the Latin American case (Bastos et al, 2015).

EME non-financial corporate debt has been on the rise 

Back in 2013, I called attention to new features of international long-term private debt finance in developing countries that arose since the global financial crisis. While global cross-border bank lending with maturities at or beyond five years slowed down after 2008, bond issues have more than filled the void, explaining a rise in total flows since then. While banks in advanced economies – especially in Europe – were deleveraging, unconventional monetary policies and hype about emerging and frontier markets comprised a favorable backdrop for a massive surge in the latter’s bond issuance (Chart 1).
 

How the Business Community Can Help Fight Corruption

Kaushik Basu's picture

This blog appeared originally in The Times of India

The control of corruption is commonly treated as the responsibility of government. The presumption is that people, firms and corporations will be what they are. So if corruption flourishes in a country, it reflects a failure of government. In informal discussions in the bazaar and angry public forums, the demands are invariably for greater honesty among government servants, tougher laws, and better enforcement. The public outrage against corruption is understandable for corruption is among the biggest obstacles to economic development. At the same time, the solutions offered in popular discourses are often naïve. 

Estimating the Economic Cost of Ebola

Mark Roland Thomas's picture
Recent news of declining numbers of new Ebola cases in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone suggest encouraging progress toward ending the epidemic. The human cost has been tragic and until we reach zero cases the threat to human lives remains the main risk and so the public health response must remain our focus. Yet, as Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone glimpse – we hope – light at the end of the tunnel, thoughts also need to turn to their needs for reconstruction and development.