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January 2012

In defense of industrial policy

Shanta Devarajan's picture

Like others, I have been skeptical about industrial policy in Africa, where the government selects certain industries for support in order to trigger a process of structural transformation. It’s been tried before—with disastrous results. 

The selected industries were captured by political elites who continued to receive subsidies without generating anything close to labor-intensive growth (the Morogoro shoe factory in Tanzania never exported a single pair of shoes). Furthermore, most of the constraints to industrial growth in Africa are man-made: policies or regulations that stand in the way of poor workers’ employment prospects.

The evil of flowers: women’s work and domestic violence in Ethiopia

Markus Goldstein's picture

After talking about domestic violence measurement and the need for some kind of model when you think about things like domestic violence with Toan last week, this week I look at a new paper from Jonas Hort and Espen Villanger which both asks the question carefully and definitely makes me think hard about what the

How much to referee and how to do it?

David McKenzie's picture

I came back from a week off at the start of this year to find 7 referee requests from different journals waiting for me , of which I accepted 5 and turned down 2 – clearly some people are working quickly on that New Year’s resolution to send out their papers. Getting so many requests in the same week got me thinking about both how much I want to referee this year and what I can do to be a better referee.

How much to referee?

The Rich Role of Mobile Phones in Financial Inclusion

Ignacio Mas's picture

The mobile phone has become a useful tool in tackling the  financial access deficit in many countries. M-PESA in Kenya has shown that adoption curves typical of new information-based technologies (radio,TV, mobiles, internet) can be applied to  financial services. Yet M-PESA-like mobile payment schemes have only scratched the surface of what is possible. The typical mobile money user still uses it only a couple of times a month.

In a recent paper, Colin Mayer of the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford and I argue that the real power of mobile will come when it is seen not only as a mechanism for reducing access costs but also for building new types of banking experiences. Indeed, the agenda needs to shift from access to use.

Why it’s important to “Think Equal” when it comes to trade facilitation

Gender equality can not only spur country competitiveness, but taking this aspect into account in trade related interventions can help obtain better outcomes. Often times, however, it can be difficult for practitioners to understand how to apply gender into their trade work.

There is indeed a gap between the literature and the type of trade interventions that are becoming increasingly important in the World Bank portfolio. The majority of the literature has focused on the relationship between gender equality as outcome and trade liberalization policies (measured usually by tariffs or openness to trade). While this type of liberalization and the exposure to the global environment is still a key area for support, there is only

Alice in Euroland: What next for Europe’s rapidly shrinking banks?

Inci Otker-Robe's picture

Less than six years ago, policymakers were concerned about a credit boom in central and eastern Europe (see, e.g., Enoch and Otker-Robe, 2007). Now, as the Eurozone debt crisis has taken center stage and bank deleveraging has picked up speed, they worry about a massive credit crunch across Europe, with potentially damaging spillover effects around the world.

How did we get here? How big is the problem? And what is the way forward?

The 2008-09 Crisis: From credit crescendo…

A combination of complex global and domestic factors including structural global imbalances, incentives supported by economic policies and implicit government or supra-national guarantees, and industry practices allowed massive amounts of easy credit to flow from domestic and international sources to doubtful parts of the private sector such as risky mortgages and real estate projects, triggering unsustainable credit booms and asset bubbles across the world. (Much has been written on the topic. See, for example, Brunnermeier 2009, or Obstfeld and Rogoff 2009).

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

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

International Development Research Centre
Local Governance and ICTs in Africa

"With governance high on the agenda in Africa, many governments are using information and communications technologies (ICTs) to develop ways in which they deliver services to citizens. E-governance has the potential to enable local governments to engage citizens in greater participation, leading to socioeconomic developments at local and national levels. But this potential remains largely unexploited and, until now, there has been a lack of evidence on information technology in local governance in Africa.

This book addresses that gap. It offers studies from nine African countries that explore how ICTs can transform service delivery, tax, financial management, land management, education, local economic development, citizen registration, and political inclusion." READ MORE

What are Arabs searching for?

Caroline Freund's picture
One answer is available from Google Insight—“Facebook” – was by far the top search across countries in the Middle East and North Africa in 2011. Only the people of Oman and Iran didn’t record “Facebook” in their top 3 searches. And Yemenis were searching almost exclusively for Facebook. This represents a big change from 2009, when Arabs (+Iran) were primarily searching for “Games” and “Images.” Interestingly, the only country that reported “Facebook” as a top search, back in 2009, was none other than the leader in the Arab revolutions –Tunisia. By 2010, all but 6 countries had “Facebook” in their top 3 searches. See the Table below for full details.

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