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Weekly Wire: The Global Forum

Roxanne Bauer's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Millions of Facebook users have no idea they’re using the internet
Quartz
It was in Indonesia three years ago that Helani Galpaya first noticed the anomaly. Indonesians surveyed by Galpaya told her that they didn’t use the internet. But in focus groups, they would talk enthusiastically about how much time they spent on Facebook. Galpaya, a researcher (and now CEO) with LIRNEasia, a think tank, called Rohan Samarajiva, her boss at the time, to tell him what she had discovered. “It seemed that in their minds, the Internet did not exist; only Facebook,” he concluded. In Africa, Christoph Stork stumbled upon something similar. Looking at results from a survey on communications use for Research ICT Africa, Stork found what looked like an error. The number of people who had responded saying they used Facebook was much higher than those who said they used the internet. The discrepancy accounted for some 3% to 4% of mobile phone users, he says.

Time to Act on the G-20 Agenda: The Global Economy Will Thank You
iMF direct- blog post by Christine Lagarde
Implementation, investment, and inclusiveness: these three policy goals will dominate the G-20 agenda this year, including the first meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors in Istanbul next week. As Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu recently put it: “Now is the time to act” – şimdi uygulama zamanı. There is a lot at stake. Without action, we could see the global economic supertanker continuing to be stuck in the shallow waters of sub-par growth and meager job creation. This is why we need to focus on these three “I’s”:

The new yuppies: how to build a new generation of tech-savvy farmers
The Guardian
As farmers age around the globe – I estimate that the average age is 55 – we need to make sure that young people see the food system as a viable career option. These farmers are the future of food. They can help to mitigate and potentially reverse climate change, curb unemployment and provide more nutrient-dense crops to the world.  Unfortunately, farming is usually seen as a last-resort profession. Rural youth migrate to cities in search of employment, and lack of infrastructure and education leads to poverty and malnutrition. But investing in young agricultural leaders has the power to transform the entire food system. Government leaders, businesses, and farmers groups need to make agriculture something youth want to do, not something they feel forced to do.

View on Private Sector: The dark side of microfinance
SciDevNet
Microfinance — the practice of providing small loans to poor people — is insufficient to quickly and permanently move people out of poverty, according to studies reported last month. [1] While this sounds damning, criticism of microfinance can be far more cutting. For instance, in 2010, Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina reportedly said that microcredit provider the Grameen Bank was “sucking blood from the poor in the name of poverty alleviation”. [2] The idea behind microfinance is that developing world entrepreneurs often only need a small chunk of credit to expand their businesses and work their way out of poverty.  Rupert Scofield, the CEO of microfinance firm Finca, believes in this ideal. But he tells me new technologies are disrupting the sector, and may explain some of the bad rap that microfinance appears to be receiving.
 
Dirty Pretty Rock
Foreign Policy
Coal is trashing the environment, but also lifting people from poverty. Like it or not, the fuel isn’t budging from the world’s energy mix.  On a spring day in 2012, a Union Pacific train ground to a stop outside a sprawling construction site in Fulton, a blink-an-miss-it town in southwestern Arkansas.  Piled high in the train’s 135 cars was the first batch of black coal from Wyoming, about 16,000 of the 2 million tons needed annually to feed the brand-new John W. Turk, Jr. Power Plant, set to go online within a few months. When officials from the Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO) finally flipped the switch on this 600-megawatt,
$1.8 billion structure, it was unusual enough: That year, only four other coal-fired plants in the United States opened their doors.
 
Not kicking the habit
The Economist
EIGHT years have passed since subprime mortgages started to go disastrously wrong, but the after-effects of the debt crisis are still around. So, as a new report from the McKinsey Global Institute* makes clear, is the debt. In fact, there is even more of it. Global debt has risen by $57 trillion since 2007—an annual increase of 5.3%. That is not dramatically slower than the 7.3% annual growth rate between 2000 and 2007, a period widely seen as a credit boom. If the financial sector is excluded, no leading economy has managed to reduce its debt-to-GDP ratio; 14 countries have seen their ratios rise by more than 50 percentage points (see chart).
 


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