While there is now a consensus that institutions and history matter for understanding development outcomes, the development policy community has largely failed to take the third (seemingly logical) step, which is to recognize that historians—and the discipline they represent—might matter. Historians hardly speak with a single voice or from a unified perspective, but at best their absence from policy discussions leads to lost opportunities to enrich the quality of scholarship and expand the range of policy responses; at worst it results in partisans erroneously or selectively invoking ‘history’ in support of their cause, or to claims (as one of us heard in a recent meeting) that “the history of the Middle East is largely a black box” merely because the methods historians deploy are not always those preferred by economists. Needless to say, it is almost impossible to imagine the reverse situation, namely a prominent policy issue in which there was a consensus that economics matters but that economists were somehow not consulted.
I visited Change Square in the center of Yemen’s capital Sana’a a few days back to meet with Tawakkol Karman, Nobel Peace Laureate. We met in her tent, a simple space but full of ideas, energy, love of Yemen and a strong desire for change.The visit reminded me of the camp we used in Bir Zeit University in the West Bank where I studied in the eighties. I was a young student then, like Tawakkol, full of energy, hope and desire for change and for a free Palestine and a democratic state where Muslims, Jews, and Christians can live together with equal rights and as good neighbors.
"Change is caused by lazy, greedy, frightened people looking for easier, more profitable and safer ways to do things. And they rarely know what they're doing."
Quoted from Why the West Rules—For Now
Last year, Kenya’s economy was behaving like a plane flying through a storm on one engine. After a lot of turbulence, especially when the shilling reached a record low against the dollar, the Central Bank intervened forcefully, and brought the plane back to stability.
But Kenya’s exchange rate woes are just the tip of the iceberg (see figure). Kenya’s big challenge is to reduce the gap between the import bill and exports revenues, what economists call the “current account deficit” (which remains large, even when services—such as tourism—are included). Last year, the deficit reached more than ten percent of GDP, approximately Ksh 400 billion (US$ 4.5 billion). This is larger than Greece’s.
Prevention strategies have had limited impact on the trajectory of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. New, innovative approaches to behavioral change are needed to stem the epidemic.
In a joint effort with many colleagues, and in collaboration with the Ifakara Health Institute in Tanzania and, the University of California at Berkeley, we launched a study with the acronym RESPECT (“Rewarding STI Prevention and Control in Tanzania”).
We started with an observation: Conditional cash transfers (CCTs) have been used successfully to promote activities that are beneficial to the participants such as school attendance and health check-ups for children. The Tanzanian experiment asks whether CCTs can be used to prevent people from engaging in activities that are harmful to themselves and others, such as unsafe sex. This is a controversial idea.
Women in Iraq are making a difference every single day by serving as emergency room workers.
By treating patients, these women are having a positive impact on people’s lives.
“Receiving a simple ‘Thank you’ makes you feel like you are doing the right thing,” said one woman. “It gives you a feeling that you have accomplished something.”
One of my favorite papers to present is my paper on improving management in India, in part because we have wonderful photos to illustrate what bad management looks like and what improved practices look like (see the appendix to the paper for some of these). Photographing impact isn’t only useful for presentations and glossy summaries, but may potentially offer a new form of data. However, this is easier said than done, and today I thought I’d share some misadventures in trying to photograph impacts on small firms.
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Today in Singapore, MIGA and IE Singapore co-hosted a seminar:"Managing Global Political Risks: Old Risks, New Moment."
After the welcome speech by IE's Assistant CEO Terence Seow, Michel Wormser, MIGA's Vice President and COO, delivered the keynote speech, which touched upon the current global economic turbulence, potential investment opportunities for Asian investors, the perception of risks, and what role the World Bank Group can play in facilitating private capital into productive projects. Michel noted that—while he understands that many Asian companies tend to invest in nearby countries—there are also plentiful of opportunities in Africa and Latin America.