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January 2006

Tracking bank notes to model Avian Flu risks

Using a popular internet game that traces the travels of dollar bills, scientists have unveiled statistical laws of human travel in the United States, and developed a mathematical description that can be used to model the spread of infectious disease in this country. This model is considered a breakthrough in the field.

Blogging and AccountAbility at Davos

If you have been reading the newspapers you would swear that Davos was a blogger convention, not a power gathering ‘meant to improve the world’. Among the dozens that are blogging, I very much like Simon Zadek’s insightful, and at times rightfully skeptical, Davos Diaries. Simon, CEO of AccountAbility, spoke here in Washington last Friday and dispels the myth that a good blogger and a good speaker are mutually exclusive.

Can a ball change the world?

Kofi Annan on the power of sport:

It is a global language capable of bridging social, cultural and religious divides. It can be a powerful tool for fostering understanding, tolerance and peace… it teaches us teamwork and fair-play. It builds self-esteem and opens up new opportunities. This in turn can contribute to the wellbeing of whole communities and countries.

Goodbye to all that

I am leaving IFC to try to make my way as a writer. I knew this day would come, but it has approached in a rush - which is one reason why Pablo has been doing the heavy lifting recently.

If you are a World Bank staffer with something to say, why not contact Pablo to discuss a spell as a guest blogger? Only the best and brightest will do for our readers!

And if you are one of our readers, thank you. Pablo, Shaela, and Teresa will take good care of you.

A country’s economic litmus test

An economic litmus test is not whether a country can attract a lot of FDI but whether it has a business environment that nurtures entrepreneurship, supports healthy competition and is relatively free of heavy handed political intervention. In this regard, India has done a better job than China.

Global economic perceptions

A new BBC World Service Poll highlights highly divergent economic perceptions across the world. 15 countries see conditions getting better, 17 see them getting worse. The poll also shows that countries that have received World Bank loans are particularly positive about our influence. See also the BBC story, or a previous Gallup poll on global optimism.