The Financial Times reports today that Tata Motors, the company behind the Rs100,000 (US$2280) Nano mini car, has faced protests over the location of its factory. Some 2,000 state police blocked the road to the factory in West Bengal. Protestors are concerned that farmers have been unfairly displaced from Tata's 1,000-acre site. On the upside for Tata, FT reports that it has received proposals for relocation from at least nine Indian states. I guess the diminutive Nano is in demand.
The debate continues over at Creative Capitalism, the blog/book-to-be spurred by Bill Gates's speech at Davos. Meanwhile, Gates gives a hint at just how to create Creative Capitalism - get universities involved. At a forum in Hong Kong, Gates argued that universities need to team up with industry to drive innovation.
A new paper available from the National Bureau of Economic Research called Is The Washington Consensus Dead? attempts to resurrect the Washington Consenus, or at least the bit of it that argued for trade liberalization.
In an earlier post, I discussed the Indian approach to workforce development. A lot of Indian companies spend a lot of money on in-house training for their employees. Although I didn't mention it at the time, one of the things that puzzled me is why companies would invest so much money on in-house training; employees could simply leave after a short tenure, and the company would have lost money on the cost of the training.
Portfolio has an interesting interactive online map with gas prices per gallon in countries around the world (Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan). Gas prices in Turkey are about three times as high as that in the U.S. I wonder which country is closer to the theoretical free market price?
Jeffrey Sachs, ever the optimist, has announced victory - or something very near it - in the digital war on poverty. Writing yesterday in the Guardian, Sachs had this to say:
It might still be an international market with stiff barriers, but higher education is definitely becoming more competitive. The U.S., traditionally dominate, has been losing market share due to increased competition from the rest of the world. A new report from the Council of Graduate Schools drives home the point. While the number of international graduate students continues to increase globally, the U.S. has seen a slowdown in applications from the rest of the world:
This time the evaluation comes from the U.S., and it finds that computers did help improve achievement in math. Authors Barrow, Markman, and Rouse in Technology's Edge conclude that:
I previously posted on the myth of the entrepreneurial middle class. A post on the India Development Blog on What Does Productive Loan Use Look Like reminded me of this issue. Michael Chasnow reports on new research on the use of credit in the slums of Hyderabad. Here are the reasons people took out loans (often not from any microfinance institution, and at interest rates of 80%):
Recently, the Financial Times picked up on the success of Mexico's conditional cash transfer program. Hailed as a genuine development success story, Mexico in 1997 instituted a program in which mothers from poor families received cash payments conditional on obligations such as their children's school attendance.