Eastern Europe and Central Asia
The World Bank's Enterprise Surveys team has published a new survey of businesses in Eastern Europe, analyzing the long-term effects of the financial crisis in the region. The report looks at survey data collected last summer from over 1,600 firms in Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Turkey, finding that the crisis has had a detrimental effect on demand:
An article in Foreign Policy last month asks us to rethink the brain drain. Authors Michael Clemens and David McKenzie (the latter an employee of the World Bank) argue that the movement of skilled labor is a boon to both developed and developing countries. They decry the term "brain drain" as a serious mischaracterization of the phenomenon.
The 2006 and 2007 Doing Business reports both found that Armenia has been reforming in the area of credit. Armenian lenders can now rely on a credit registry when deciding on loan applications. But have these reforms really had an impact?
Perhaps taking a page from Hans Rosling's extremely popular presentation of development data at the 2006 TED Talks, the World Bank now has its own publicly accessible tool for data visualisation. This first version of the tool contains 49 indicators for 209 countries taken from the World Development Indicators.
Has the regulatory burden for Belarusian businesses decreased? According to a new World Bank Country Note on Running a Business in Belarus, progress has indeed been made over time. For example, the number of visits or required meetings with tax officials has significantly decreased from 2005 to 2008: from 3.2 to just 1 visit per year. Also, the percentage of firms reporting incidence of bribes with these tax officials decreased as well.
The financial crisis and subsequent credit crunch has greatly reduced the options available to governments regarding PPPs. The reason is very simple: There is no longer enough money available for long-term private infrastructure investment. However, I see this as a temporary situation, as the rationale for PPPs remains as strong as ever.