Recently, my colleague Cara Santos Pianesi flagged an op-ed she thought might interest me. The aptly-titled op-ed, Resource wealth need no longer be a curse was written by Mats Berdal and Nader Mousavizadeh and published in the FT on March 25th.
Lebanon is a country of expatriates. Nine million of its 11 million inhabitants live abroad, in places as diverse as Terra del Fuego, Côte d’Ivoire, and Columbus, Ohio. The Lebanese Diaspora remains profoundly committed to its mother country, remitting money to family back home, investing, and visiting as tourists.
MIGA recently launched its new World Investment and Political Risk report in London to a gathering of investment and political risk experts. Based on a joint MIGA – EIU Political Risk Survey conducted last year, the report underscores that political risk remains one of the main obstacles to FDI in emerging markets.
Breaking news! The OrPower4 Project has been awarded:
African Renewables Deal of the Year 2009 from Project Finance Magazine.
After a long journey to Nairobi, in the midst of a much-needed shower, the room went black. Fortunately the lights came on a few seconds later. My good fortune was only due to the fact that the hotel’s generator kicked in – with its attendant high cost and environmental and safety hazards.
I’m no stranger to the power outages that present themselves nearly every evening in this part of the world, but it’s one thing to experience a minor inconvenience, quite another for the business that is losing money due to power outages, the student who is losing out on opportunities because she can’t study at night, or the doctor trying to treat a victim of a late-night road accident. And these are the lucky ones. Only 15 percent of all Kenyans have any access to electricity.
My thanks again go out to the World Bank InfoShop for the opportunity to hear and meet former World Bank Chief Economist—and, indeed, Nobel Laureate—Joseph Stiglitz, who came to speak yesterday about his new book, "Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy". His trademark frank analysis was both refreshing and enlightening; especially interesting, if troubling, was his view that central bankers’ inflation-hawk instincts will increase the likelihood of a double-dip recession.
This was a very general presentation about some of the hubristic, anti-regulatory thinking that created the conditions for the recent crisis and the errors in countries’ responses to it. Stiglitz also excoriated the failures of political will and the power of the strongly entrenched, well-represented interests currently standing in the way of true reform. These are his views, of course—I make no claims to know enough about what “really” happened to be authoritative on the subject, other than to say that his arguments were persuasive and his examples illuminating.
One subject I was surprised to hear him discuss, however, was the role of interconnected global capital markets in financial crises. This was a key issue raised after the Asian crisis in the late 1990s; less so for the current “great recession”—although Stiglitz’s tag line that this was a crisis “made in America” and exported around the world reflects a common conclusion of much recent analysis.
Just back from London where MIGA launched its new report, World Investment and Political Risk, and partnered with the Financial Times to host a symposium on Managing Global Political Risk. The event was standing-room only, packed with experts from the political risk insurance industry. Debate was lively on the future for investing in emerging markets, managing global political risk in uncertain times, and whether investors are moving into a riskier world.
I'm in a unique position in MIGA, responsible for fielding initial investor inquiries about MIGA’s political risk guarantees. Over the last few years I have noticed a jump among investors considering MIGA cover in several countries. One of those countries is Sierra Leone.
One joy of working within the World Bank Group is the access to great lectures from brilliant and creative thinkers on issues of relevance to the global economy and international development. Today, I had the opportunity to listen to Robert Skidelsky, acclaimed author of a three-volume biography of John Maynard Keynes, and, most recently, of Keynes: Return of the Master. He provided an interesting picture of how Keynes – one of the primary forces behind the creation of the Wor
I recently returned from a visit to seven countries throughout Asia. Although I had visited some of them before, this was my first visit representing MIGA. During my trip, I recognized the value and potential of MIGA’s focus on south/south investment to investors in this region. Of course providing guarantees to support inward investment to Asia is very important to MIGA, especially guarantees for complex infrastructure projects. MIGA can add a lot of value to these types of projects – particularly when it comes to helping manage the environmental and social aspects of projects.
However, even through this global economic crisis, many private sector companies in Asian middle income countries have become “investors” in other parts of the world. Investments from Asia reach many of the poorest and post-conflict countries. At the same time, risk-mitigation instruments such as political risk insurance are not well known. We see a role for MIGA in sharing experience and working with Asian export credit agencies and Eximbanks to bring Asian investors the risk mitigation tools they need to help continue expanding their investments.