Latest business surveys for the Euro Area suggest that the nascent recovery in activity in the region may be shortlived. Recent data suggests that Euro-Area deleveraging has had a negative impact on trade finance, but that trade finance availability should firm during 2012.
Youth unemployment (ages 15-24) is often two to three times total unemployment, and the picture is particularly bleak in the Middle East and North Africa. University of Minnesota professor Ragui Assaad specializes in labor policy, informal markets, and urban planning in developing countries. We asked his thoughts on the youth job picture in the Arab countries, including the role of unemployment in the Arab Spring, current youth expectations, and the prospects for dynamic private sectors.
In our blog post last November, we discussed Pakistan’s decision to grant India most favored nation (MFN) status. We were hopeful about the gains from easier trade between the two, but noted the many stumbling blocks in between. In the past 20 weeks, both countries have made serious efforts to address these blocks. Things are looking good. Here is an update.
Both countries mean business
In addition to the goodwill gesture of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari visiting India this April and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh considering visiting Pakistan, important issues addressed include:
- Pakistan issued an order in March 2012 to move from a positive list of 2,000 items for India to a negative list of 1,209 banned items. Pakistan intends to phase out the negative list altogether and formally give India MFN status by the end of 2012.
- India, which formally granted Pakistan MFN status in 1996 (but maintained barriers) has agreed to reduce its sensitive list of 865 items by 30% within four months. India has also agreed in principle to allow Pakistani foreign direct investment in the country.
I’ve been catching up on our accountability work in Tanzania recently, and it continues to be really ground-breaking. Rather than churning out the standard logical framework of activities, outputs and predicted outcomes before the project even starts, the programme, known as Chukua Hatua (Swahili for ‘take action’) uses an evolutionary model of change (try out numerous approaches, drop the less successful ones, scale up and develop the winners). It’s more like a venture capitalist backing ten start-up firms knowing that most will fail, but some will win big. This has been possible partly because DFID has been willing to fund such an experimental approach as part of its ‘Accountability in Tanzania’ (AcT) programme (props to them).
18 months into the programme, it’s good to see that Chukua Hatua is, errmm, evolving, according to programme coordinator Jane Lonsdale.
The first phase piloted six approaches:
These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
“Mobile phones in the developing world have myriad uses: banking services, reminders for medicine regimens, e-governance, and more. This is a far cry from a generation ago when 99 percent of the people in low-income countries lacked POTS, or “plain old telephone service.”
Information and communications technologies are now indispensible for development, prioritized through varying levels of market-driven measures and participatory politics. From international organizations to local administrations, the importance given to these technologies for development today is a counterpoint to the immediate post-colonial era when telephones were considered a luxury and nationalized radio broadcasting was used for bringing “modern” ideas to populations. Along with policy changes, the move toward market forms works to ensure that people have phones and access to communication infrastructures, in turn providing incentives for entrepreneurs and political brokers to develop applications for delivery of social services and provide alternatives to users who in an earlier era lacked even basic access to these technologies.” READ MORE
- Communication Technologies
- The Guardian
- Open Government Partnership
- social media
- Global Voices Advocacy
- Mobile Media Toolkit
- Hosh Media
- youth engagement
- citizen reporters
After last week’s review of Mark Rosenzweig’s review of Poor Economics, I got asked, via email and comments, what I thought about Martin Ravallion’s review in the same issue of the Journal of Economic Literature.
This post concludes our Closing the Gap: Financial Inclusion blog series, which shares the views of selected experts and practitioners on different financial inclusion topics.
The field of financial literacy and capability has many open questions in terms of priorities, what the most effective interventions are and even basic measurement data and evidence of impact. However, one aspect of this topic where there is growing consensus relates to the importance of multi-stakeholder partnerships that leverage both public and private sector actors, as well as civil society.
As in any significant endeavor that attempts to change or reinforce consumer behaviors (encouraging savings, promoting prompt repayment of loans, taking steps to mitigate risk such as diversification of assets or buying insurance) communicating through multiple channels and partners can strengthen the effectiveness of the message. Figure 1 below shows the many types of stakeholders that may be involved in the development of financial literacy and capability programs and policies. These span the gamut from central banks and ministries of finance to commercial banks, microfinance institutions and other providers, schools, religious institutions and media firms.
Can economics trump politics in South Asia, a region fragmented by decades of strife? Will greater regional cooperation and lowering barriers to trade bring harmony along with economic growth?
Those were the questions on the table Thursday as a panel from across the region discussed “Breaking Down Barriers: A New Dawn in Trade and Regional Cooperation in South Asia.”
Most panelists expressed optimism about trade’s pacifying abilities. Moderator Barkha Dutt, an Indian television journalist, opined that “What trade does, in its very ordinariness, is modulate the emotions.” Teresita Schaffer, former U.S. ambassador to Sri Lanka, agreed that “Trade can provide another conversation… and provide reasons why rivalries should not be allowed to get out of hand.”
But which comes first, the chicken or the egg? asked another panelist, Nepali journalist Kanak Dixit. Clearly, he said, it’s the chicken (commerce), because other things have been tried and have not worked. He said that “chicken” will lay two “eggs”: peace and prosperity.
The leasing or purchase of agricultural land in the developing world has become a hot button issue as the planet has grown more crowded and the pressure to stake out more arable land – whether for food or biofuels – grows. At the same time, agricultural productivity in many of the poorest communities around the globe has stagnated and, unless higher crop yields can be attained, far too many people will remain trapped in poverty. Helping such smallholders catch the wave of rising interest in farmland is a key aim of the Annual World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty, which began Monday. Our theme this year is ‘Land Governance in a Rapidly Changing Environment.”
It’s clear that this year, many stakeholders who are either taking part in the conference or criticizing the event from outside think that global interest in farmland in the developing world is at a tipping point.