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July 2010

Public Budgeting, American Style

Taeku Lee's picture

On Saturday, June 26th, nearly 4,000 Americans from all walks of life participated in an all-day country-wide deliberation on the nation's fiscal future.  Town hall meetings held in 19 sites occupied the main stage for the day, with smaller scale discussions in more than 40 additional communities across the country and online venues for participatory input as well.  The event, organized by AmericaSpeaks had all the markers of political deliberation, American-style: electronic keypads and networked computers that lent a technologically updated verisimilitude to George Gallup's idea of palpating the "pulse of democracy" and, of course, lots of political contestation (more on this below).

Ethiopian woman farmer's message: 'Be on our side'

Tom Grubisich's picture

The future of Ethiopia’s drought-threatened agriculture is in the hands of the country’s resourceful women farmers, Development Marketplace 2009 winner Ehsan Dulloo says.

Dulloo calls the women Ethiopian agriculture's “primary seed custodians.”  They’re the ones who “have to confront significant uncertainty in the climate every year and regularly face food shortages as crops fail,” he says.  That’s why Dulloo and the Institute of Bioversity Conservation in Addis Ababa – where he is a scientist – developed the winning project Seeds for Needs.  (Participating farmer Bertukan Kebede is shown with daughter in photo from project workshop.)

Seeds for Needs aims to benefit 200 woman farmers who are running out of options on their subsistence plots in the increasingly dry highlands of eastern Ethiopia.  Through Seeds for Needs, the woman farmers will get access to new strains of seeds -- produced at gene banks -- that may prove more hardy than the traditional varieties of seeds the farmers have been using to overcome droughts that are more frequent and intense because of climate change.

Developing economies increase share of global output

World Bank Data Team's picture

Estimates of gross national income (GNI) for 2009, released on 1 July, show that the share of developing regions in the global economy increased from 18 percent in 2000 to 28 percent in 2009. On a purchasing power parity (PPP) basis their share increased from 34 to 44 percent with China still remaining the second largest economy, after the United States. Brazil, Russia, India, and Mexico are among the 15 largest economies in the world.

Accessible and inclusive transport: can we achieve it?

Julie Babinard's picture

Have you ever been to a foreign city and not been able to figure out the names of the stations or directions of that city’s metro? Did you feel completely lost and upset with whoever designed the system? Maybe as a parent you have tried taking a bus with a stroller and gave up because you were not able to take it up the steep stairs? Or maybe you had to walk on the road among traffic and cars  because the sidewalk was blocked by construction or parked cars?

Reforming Bank Regulations

Asli Demirgüç-Kunt's picture

It is no surprise that the recent financial crisis has sparked a new round of regulatory reform all around the world. The crisis has certainly exposed significant weaknesses in the regulatory and supervisory framework and led to a debate about the role these weaknesses may have played in causing and propagating the crisis. As a result, reform of regulation and supervision is a top priority for policymakers, and many countries are working to upgrade their frameworks. But there are more questions than answers: What constitutes good regulation and supervision? Which elements are most important for ensuring bank soundness?  What should the reforms focus on?

The Basel Committee – a forum for bank supervisors from around the world – has been trying to answer these questions since 1997. The Committee first got together that year to issue the Core Principles for Effective Bank Supervision (BCPs), a document summarizing best practices in the field. Since then many countries have endorsed the BCPs and have undertaken to comply with them, making them an almost universal standard for bank regulation. Since 1999, the IMF and the World Bank have conducted evaluations of countries’ compliance with these principles, mainly within their joint Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP). Hence the international community has made significant investments in developing these principles, encouraging their wide-spread adoption, and assessing progress with their compliance.

In light of the recent crisis and the resulting skepticism about the effectiveness of existing approaches to regulation and supervision, it is natural to ask if compliance with this global standard of good regulation is associated with bank soundness. This is what I have tried to do with Enrica Detragiache and Thierry Tressel, two of my colleagues from the Fund. Specifically, we test whether better compliance with BCPs is associated with safer banks. We also look at whether compliance with different elements of the BCP framework is more closely associated with bank soundness to identify if there are specific areas that would help prioritize reform efforts to improve supervision.

Those Dreaded Red Cards

Antonio Lambino's picture

As the World Cup semifinals rage on in South Africa, I noticed that a number of those dreaded red cards have been issued both on and off the football field.  They are of particular interest because, while they communicate formal authority and official sanction against the most grievous offences on the football field, they have also become symbols of various good governance and anti-corruption initiatives in the broader public arena. 

The innovation was first introduced more than 4 decades ago by legendary British referee Ken Aston and, since then, has diffused into the global public sphere.  A Google search utilizing the phrase “red card campaign” resulted in around 283,000 results.  Some recent examples include the campaign against human trafficking in Africa, the Khulumani campaign for human rights in the DRC, and the UNAIDS campaign against HIV in South Africa.  The International Labour Organization and UNICEF have both run red card campaigns for children’s rights, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and USAID have used them in anti-corruption efforts, and a number of controversial campaigns have been launched against high-level politicians in several countries.

Why Ghana Should Win the World Cup … At Some Point

Caglar Ozden's picture
   Photo/istockphoto.com

Amidst a cacophony of vuvuzelas, expectations for the African teams in this World Cup had never been higher. For the first time the tournament was held on African soil and many African teams had famous coaches - Sven Goran Erikson for Cote d’Iviore being one example. Most importantly, there have never been so many African players signed to the top European clubs in the world; perhaps none more famously so than Samuel Eto’o of Inter Milan or Didier Drogba of Chelsea. And yet, the African teams were knocked out of the competition in the group stages, one by one. That is, all except Ghana, the team on which all African hopes now rested.

Putting Your Heart Into It

Caroline Jaine's picture

As I write this I realise that my favourite reference book on “Hearts & Minds” was stolen some months back.   I will persevere nevertheless.  As usual, I have something on my mind and having one foot in academic reference could distract me from an eloquent rant.

I am almost as tired of the misuse of the term “hearts and minds” as I am about the generic tossing of the words “strat-com” around the media centre - without applying its meaning.  We are told of its importance in communications (particularly when policies begin to fail), but few think deeply or employ it properly.  Perhaps because no-one has articulated what hearts and minds means (or strat-com for that matter). Google tells me:


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