The World Bank's East Asia blog links to a fantastic graphic of the world's resources by country. There is a clear correlation between size and supply: the United States, Canada, Russia, China and Brazil dominate the list. In many categories, such as soy, uranium, rice, natural gas, cotton, and corn, over half of the world's supply is controlled by three countries or fewer.
I have been comparing the differences between manufacturing and services firms in the informal or unregistered sector. There is a rich literature on how and why these firms differ, but it is based on firms in the formal or registered sector. It’s a moot point whether differences between manufacturing and service firms in the formal sector also hold for the informal sector. For example, differences in scale economies between service and manufacturing firms are known to be important for the formal sector, but this is not immediately obvious when comparing these firms in the informal sector.
A couple of years ago, former PSD blogger Tim Harford and co-author Michael Klein argued for more market-like mechanisms in the aid industry in The Market for Aid. A new working paper by Owen Barder (Beyond Planning: Markets & Networks for Better Aid) picks up where Tim and Michael left off. Owen argues that aid agencies are stuck between a rock (donor
The common perception of the informal sector is that unregistered businesses are not as efficient as registered or formal businesses. One proposed reason for this is that, by not being registered, informal businesses face severe hardships in accessing finance, markets, public services and government programs. Hence, the usual policy response to informality is simple: try and encourage informal businesses to register.
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.
The World Bank has released its latest Finance and PSD Impact Newsletter. The paper looks at the impact of large-scale bank expansion in Mexico, evaluating the effects of increased access to finance for low-income borrowers.
I was walking through the lobby of IFC today, and there was something pretty unusual hanging—a bunch of oversized, transparent garbage bags. I took a snapshot with my phone (apologies for the modest quality of the photo). From a distance, I couldn't tell what was inside, but when I got up close I saw they were filled with tons of plastic bottles—all used by IFC staff. The sign below the bags reports that IFC staff consume some 80,600 plastic bottles every year.