Over the past three decades, global trade grew almost twice as fast as global gross domestic product (GDP). The massive process of commercial integration was made possible by technological revolutions in transport (like containerized shipping) and communications technologies, and by a dramatic decline in import tariffs. This allowed many developing countries to implement export-led growth strategies that lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.
In the aftermath of the global economic crisis, financial market regulators have proposed a myriad of reforms to better govern the banking sector and to enhance its resilience to future shocks. In fact, in September 2010, a number of measures were agreed upon by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, an international forum designed to foster cooperation and develop standards on banking supervisory matters.
What do call centers in Kenya, accounting companies in Sri Lanka, and human resources firms in Abu Dhabi have in common? From the surface, perhaps not much; but from an international trade perspective, these and other industries represent a fundamental change in how countries are doing business.
Groundbreaking events are adding to the list of things pushing up food prices. Erratic weather in key grain exporting countries, the increasing crop use for biofuel production, export restrictions, and low global stocks, have been key contributors to the spike. Now, it is also linked to surging fuel prices connected to events in the Middle East and North Africa.
For the 600 million people living in fragile and conflict affected economies, the threat of relapsing into violence and slipping into deeper poverty is a reality they must face every day. Believe it or not, poverty rates average 54% in fragile and postconflict economies, compared with 22% for low-income countries as a whole. Weak institutions and a lack of local capacity further undermine the delivery of core services, such as security, rule of law, and other public goods.
So what happens when the fighting stops and the reconstruction begins? What happens to local capacity in countries where qualified civil servants have either fled to escape the conflict or were killed during it? A new study on public financial management reforms, produced by the World Bank’s fragile states and public sector governance units, shows that progress is possible even in such difficult circumstances.
South Asia has been one of the world’s success stories in terms of rapid economic growth. With India leading the way, South Asia’s poverty rate has fallen from 60 percent in 1981 to 40 percent in 2005. However, during the same period, the number of poor people—those living on less than $1.25 per day—actually increased from 549 million to 595 million over the same period.
Earlier this month, Japan experienced one of the worst natural disasters in its history, an earthquake and subsequent tsunami that claimed the lives of thousands of people and drastically changed the lives of countless more. Sadly, this tragedy is another in a string of natural disasters that have occurred over the past few years, such as the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, wildfires in Russia, and floods in Pakistan, West Africa, Sri Lanka, Brazil, and Australia.
Professor Barry Eichengreen (left) and
Increasing food and oil prices are making life miserable for millions of people. According to our World Bank estimates, the food price hike since last July has already pushed another 44 million people around the globe into extreme poverty –those living on less than US$1.25 a day.
Commodity prices are experiencing a lot of volatility right now, with food and oil prices nearing record highs. But what about the medium-term? The answer is fundamental for developing countries as commodity prices will be the key external variable for them to watch—perhaps even more than interest rates. Commodity prices are expected to stay high until at least 2015, before supply responses and lower relative demand by a burgeoning global middle-class moderate them.