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June 2011

Central America: crime and violence eating up small business profits

Marcela Sanchez's picture

Central America: crime and violence eating up small business profits

From any tall building in Guatemala City you have a bird's eye view of a common site in cities across Latin America and the Caribbean: lodged in the alleys and walkways between modern highrises, low tin-roof structures shelter the hard world of the informal economy.

Those are usually the structures of small businesses, such as the one belonging to Cristina Lajuj's, currently feeling the pressure of the spiral of crime and violence that is threatening Central America's own prosperity. For more than 11 years, Lajuj has been making a living selling tortillas and other typical dishes. In a space just off a parking lot and smaller than a Washington DC food truck, five women begin mixing corn flour at 6:30 every morning. By 8AM a basket full of warm tortillas and a small plate of cheese slices await the clientele of office workers, delivery men and other street vendors.

Les prix alimentaires, ou l’ingestion du coût de la logistique

Jordan Schwartz's picture

Du déjà-vu.

Nous voilà de nouveau en train d'essayer de disséquer les causes profondes de la hausse des prix alimentaires qui ont repris leur progression haletante en direction des niveaux record de 2008. Est-ce là le résultat de la spéculation sur les marchés des produits ? de l'envol de la demande de céréales fourragères dans les pays asiatiques ? de la réaffectation de terres jusque là consacrées à la culture de produits alimentaires à la production de biocombustibles ? Pour nos spécialistes de l'agriculture, de l'énergie et des transports, la réponse est claire : « oui, oui et encore oui ».

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Food Prices: Eating the Cost of Logistics

Jordan Schwartz's picture

Déjà vu.

Once again we find ourselves trying to dissect the root causes of food price increases as they bump and grind their way back toward their 2008 peaks. Is it speculation in commodity markets? Is it the booming demand from Asia for feed grains? Is it land use switching out from food crops to biofuels? The sentiment among our agriculture, energy and transport specialists is that the answer to these questions is: "Yes. All of the above."

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Safety Nets Catch Latin American Poor

Carlos Molina's picture

Social protection programs have proven critical to stop the most vulnerable Latin Americans from falling into extreme poverty during the recent economic crisis, argues an Independent Evaluation Group Report. World Bank expert Rafael Rofman explains in this video blog how these programs have benefitted the poor in Argentina.

Are Higher Food Prices Really Bad for the Poor?

Francisco Ferreira's picture

Older readers may still remember the Prebisch-Singer thesis: the proposition that developing countries suffered from a "secular" deterioration in their terms of trade vis-à-vis industrial countries, because commodity prices tended to exhibit a long-run decline relative to those of manufactures…. The argument implied that poor countries, and the poor farmers that constituted the bulk of their population, were victims of sustained declines in the price of food, and other primary commodities, of which they were net producers.

Latin America, Africa Partner on Managing Commodity Wealth

John Nash's picture

It's only fitting that a country largely built on mineral abundance has been the venue for a critical discussion on how to manage natural resource wealth.

A group of World Bank experts, including myself, met in Johannesburg last week with high-level policy makers, civil society representatives and academics, to exchange experiences and enhance our understanding of the theoretical and practical issues unique to resource-dependent economies. As a long-standing major commodity exporting region, Latin America has many lessons of experience – positive and negative -- to share with other developing regions on management of the wealth from natural resources.

There is nothing ‘Natural’ in Natural Disasters

Joaquin Toro's picture

In the last few months we have witnessed "natural events" that have resulted in huge disasters with tragic consequences. From the November Rio de Janeiro mudslides to the March Japan tsunami and, more recently and closer to home, the tornadoes that devastated large parts of Missouri, 'natural disasters' are becoming household names.