Perhaps one of the earliest utilitarians was Charvak (his name literally means "sweet talker" in Sanskrit) who a few centuries ago said, "live happily as long as you live/drink a lot of ghee, and borrow if need be!" Now in the thick of a financial crisis marked by excessive borrowing and lending, one might argue against the Charvak Doctrine. It's true that debt, like fire, can be dangerous ("Don't borrow, because you will get into debt"), but if managed prudently, it can also fuel new projects, new products, and growth and employment in many poor countries.
Western Union and the Economist Intelligence Unit recently released a new Global Migration Barometer. I was a member of the panel of peer reviewers as well as a panelist at the launch event held in Washington with my good friends Don Terry, Demetri Papademetriu, and Thomas Debass.
1. Migration is an exception rather than the rule. Only 200 million or 3% of world population are international migrants; 97% are not. Most people like to be rooted where they are born, unless they are uprooted by economic factors.
Last Thursday, the European Union’s interior ministers agreed on the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum.
Until recently, immigration policies in the majority of EU countries have tended to be “skill blind”, and large inflows of immigrants have been admitted for humanitarian reasons. Now, the trend of re-directing migration policy towards economic (largely skilled) immigration, initiated by Australia, New Zealand and Canada, is being followed by the UK and other EU countries.
I was in Vienna last week to attend an impressive event called the Public-Private Partnership on Remittances, organized by my colleagues Massimo Cirasino and Peer Stein. Amid the technocratic, technical, and tactical treatise on payment systems, a high point for me was the launch of Remittance Prices Worldwide, a new World Bank remittance price database.
As part of the effort to improve estimates of remittance flows within the framework of Balance of Payments statistics, the IMF's Statistics Department, together with the "Luxembourg Group," has completed a draft of the new International Transactions in Remittances: Guide for Compilers and Users (RCG). The chapters and appendices are presented at the IMF's website.
So, what is this sweet little Aztec girl doing in Vienna's city center, right next to St. Stephen's Cathedral (I took this photo using my cellphone while I was there last week)?
Spain is facing an economic downturn that it is affecting the construction industry, a sector of the economy which employs many immigrants. Workers are being laid off and the Spanish government finds itself in need of providing them with social security and unemployment benefits.
(Zhimei Xu contributed to this post)
Oil prices increased from $26/barrel in early 2001 to over $130/barrel in June 2008, vastly enriching some countries flush with natural resources. Rising prices may affect migration patterns from origin countries in South and Southeast Asia, most noticeably away from the United States and towards the oil-rich Middle East countries.
Un plan de retorno voluntario de los inmigrantes legales que no tienen empleo ha sido aprobado el 19 de Setiembre del 2008 por el gobierno de España. Se podrán acoger a esta nueva iniciativa los inmigrantes que no pertenezcan a la Unión Europea y que sus países hayan firmado convenios bilaterales con España en materia de portabilidad de seguridad social. El programa esta dirigido para los inmigrantes de Marruecos, Ecuador, Perú, Colombia, Ucrania, Argentina, Republica Dominicana, Rusia, Uruguay, Brasil, Venezuela, Chile, Filipinas,