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March 2012

Financial Stability Reports: What Are They Good For?

Martin Cihak's picture

Words, words, words: do they matter in finance? And, more to the point, do reports on financial stability have an impact on, say, financial stability? New research suggests that the answer is a qualified “yes”: such reports can actually have a positive link with financial stability, if they are done well. Reports that are written clearly, are consistent over time, and cover the key risks to stability are associated with more stable financial systems.

Publishing reports on financial stability has been a rapidly growing industry, with more and more central banks and other agencies around the world now publishing such reports. As of early 2012, around 80 such reports are being issued on a regular basis (Figure 1). The stated aim of most of these reports is to point out key risks and vulnerabilities to policy makers, market participants, and the public at large, and thereby ultimately helping to limit financial instability.

Figure 1. The number of countries that publish financial stability reports


Source: Čihák, Muñoz, Teh Sharifuddin, and Tintchev (2012).

Are all medical procedures, drugs good for the patient?

Patricio V. Marquez's picture

Also available in: РусскийPatients waiting at health center in Angola (credit: UN/Evan Schneider).

When healthcare professionals take the Hippocratic Oath, they promise to prescribe patients regimens based on their “ability and judgment” and to “never do harm to anyone”.

Although extraordinary progress in medical knowledge during the last 50 years, coupled with the development of new technologies, drugs and procedures, has improved health conditions and quality of life, it has also created an ever-growing quandary regarding which drugs, medical procedures, tests and treatments work best.

And for policy makers, administrators and health economists, the unrestrained acquisition and use of new medical technologies and procedures (e.g., open heart surgery to replace clogged arteries, ultrasound technology scanners to aid in the detection of heart disease, and life-saving antiretroviral drugs for HIV/AIDS) is increasing health expenditures in an era of fiscal deficits.

In many countries, I’ve see how ensuring value for money in a limited-resources environment is not only difficult but requires careful selection and funding of procedures and drugs. It also comes with serious political, economic and ethical implications—and with new drugs and technologies appearing every day, this challenge isn’t going away. What should countries do?

Trucks, tankers, camels and salt all ply the Djibouti-Ethiopia trade corridor

Vincent Vesin's picture
We drove 140 miles across the Djibouti desert to the Ethiopian border to gain a better understanding of the flow of transported goods between the two countries. Djibouti depends on its deep sea port around which the Djibouti city built up over the centuries.  It is the closest and best equipped port for Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, which has no sea coast of its own.  Ethiopia has a population of around 90 million, exceeding that of any one country in Europe, while Djibouti has less than one million, fewer than Fairfax County, Virginia. Almost all of Djiboutians live in the port city.  

The Past as a Foreign Country: Taking History and Historians Seriously in Development

Michael Woolcock's picture

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.

In Change Square

Wael Zakout's picture

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.

Quote of the Week: Ian Morris

Sina Odugbemi's picture

"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."

Ian Morris, Jean and Rebecca Willard Professor in Classics and Professor in History at Stanford University

Quoted from Why the West Rules—For Now

How to kick-start Kenya’s second growth engine

Wolfgang Fengler's picture

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.

Rewarding safe sex

Damien de Walque's picture

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.

One Day on Earth: Women work to save lives in Iraq

Mehreen Arshad Sheikh's picture

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.”

 

Misadventures in Photographing Impact

David McKenzie's picture

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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