First, the good news: The world has become considerably less poor. Today, 43 percent of people are considered to be living in poverty—that is, living on less than $2 per day—compared to 30 years ago when almost three-fourths of the developing world was doing so. Even more heartening is that extreme poverty—that is, living on less than $1.25 per day to meet the most basic human needs—has declined even more.
Food prices are finally coming down after a year of spikes and high volatility. But we must remain vigilant. Prices of certain foods remain very high, and millions of people around the world are still at risk of suffering from malnutrition and hunger.
Let’s get to the numbers first.
Turmoil is not solely circumscribed to Wall Street and stock markets around the world. Volatility is also affecting global food prices, and with them, millions of people in developing countries. So, just as the world marks the birth of the 7 billionth baby this week, his or her family might be struggling to put food on the table.
Market volatility, fears of a double-dip, lack of investor confidence and social demonstrations from Wall Street to Main Streets around the world are just some of the headlines we face today.
As the 2008-9 financial crisis spread from its epicenter in the United States to the rest of the world, policy makers found themselves in uncharted waters. The effects of the global contraction were so severe that the world experienced the largest drop in global trade volumes since World War II, with world trade of goods falling by 23 percent in 2009.
Gender inequality and discrimination can affect many areas of life, from a women’s access to basic health services to her prospects for education and future earnings. Accordingly, in order to overcome these disparities, development practitioners have begun to collect gender-disaggregated data and address gender elements in the design and implementation of aid programs.
It’s no secret that current account imbalances exist around the world. In many cases, these imbalances may be benign and merely reflect market-driven differences in savings and investment or differences in stages of development. In other cases, persistent global imbalances may be unsustainable and may threaten growth in the long-run. Thus, it’s no surprise that addressing imbalances has been a key focus in recent G-20 discussions.
Istanbul is now at the center of the development action.
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.