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June 2012

Call for Feedback: How-To Note on Open Government Data for Social Accountability

Samhir Vasdev's picture

The review process for this How-to Note has ended. The paper has been downloaded 84times and we received 10 comments.

Justin Yifu Lin receives video accolades, warm farewells

Merrell Tuck-Primdahl's picture

June 1 was Justin’s last day as World Bank Chief Economist and I wanted to share comments from several leading development thinkers and economists (including past Chief Economists) who knew him and appreciated the determination he brought to the position.  Justin’s views were not in the mainstream at the World Bank, but through intellectual persistence, structural economics has re-emerged as a topic meriting debate and discussion among top development experts.

Enjoy the video and feel free to share your views about Justin’s legacy

In Somaliland, Political Legitimacy Comes from Contributing to Peace

Caroline Rusten's picture

"I am selling my ears" (Dhagahaan iibinayaa), Abdillahi says, laughing.

The sharp light glimmers through the small opening in the tinted window, the wind is audible. It is early morning in Hargeisa, the self-proclaimed Republic of Somaliland, occupying the north-western territory of what the international community defines as Somalia. Somalia and Somaliland could not be further apart in conflict resolution experience and relative stability.

Abdillahi is still looking at me, his smile widens, his eyes sparkle. Chuckling, he leans towards me to emphasize his point. He had been telling me about the peace conference between the Somaliland clans in Borama in 1993, and had interrupted himself with the expression about selling his ears.

"That is what we say today about daily allowances from donors," he explains. "Our society is built on contribution, people here gets legitimacy through contribution.

Whose Access to Information Is it Anyway?

Maya Brahmam's picture

The recent storm about the Facebook IPO and whether big investors got access to better analysis than individual investors made me think about the open agenda again: Whose access are we guaranteeing? If we say that data is open, do we have the moral obligation to help people navigate that information?

An article by Peter Whoriskey and David Hilzenrath in The Washington Post, Scrutiny Focused on Pre-IPO Hype, says of Facebook’s disclosure: "It was just the kind of information that could make you a million. But you couldn’t find it..." They went on to note, "A raft of complex regulations attempt to ensure that the information public companies give out to investors is not only true but is distributed in a way that does not favor big institutional investors over so-called retail investors…"

What a Waste: Time to Pick It Up

Dan Hoornweg's picture

What a Waste publication coverAsk any city manager or mayor what their top priority is and you’re likely to get ‘solid waste’ as an answer. You would think in today’s age we would have solved the waste management challenge and moved on to the next slightly more glamorous municipal service. Not so; and more than ever cities now need to pick it up a notch on solid waste management.

Solid waste is still probably the world’s most pressing environmental challenge. In poorer countries, solid waste can use up to more than half of a city’s overall budget; around the world there are more solid waste workers than soldiers; and despite the more than $225 billion spent every year on solid waste, in many low income countries less than half the waste is collected in cities.

Art Contest Winners Announced

South Asia's picture

The results are in! The selection committee has chosen 25 winners in the World Bank’s Imagining Our Future Together art contest for young artists.

"With sensitive brush strokes and unusual photo angles, the young artists of Imagining our Future Together offer jointly for the first time a harmonious and joyous regional song of beauty, poetry, irony, and talent," said Marina Galvani, art curator for the World Bank.

Caught bribing foreign officials: Have you ever wondered where the money companies pay in sanctions is ending up?

A decade ago, prosecutions of companies for paying bribes abroad were rare.  Today, you can open the business section of almost any major newspaper and find a story about a company under investigation for bribery of foreign officials.
The good news is that these prosecutions are truly on the rise globally.  While the United States has continued to lead the field, the authorities in many countries have now succeeded in holding companies liable for foreign bribery or closely-related offenses.  To name a few, these include the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands and Norway.  Even some international institutions, such as the World Bank, are also moving towards such negotiated resolutions – but those private administrative actions are not the topic of this blog.

The bribes being paid to foreign officials often amount to more than just small change. Credit: Incurable_Hippie, Flickr Creative Commons

Have we seen a lot of trials?   Not at all.  Around the world, the preferred method of resolving foreign bribery cases is not through trials in court, but rather through shorter court procedures, plea bargains and other forms of mutual resolution.   Even in civil law countries.

Lessons from Recent Crises and Current Priorities for Finance Practitioners and Policy-Makers

Maria Soledad Martinez Peria's picture

On May 14-18 the World Bank held its annual Overview Course on Financial Sector Issues in Washington, DC. Geared towards mid-career financial sector policy-makers and practitioners, the objective of this one-week event was to discuss issues of current and long-run importance to the development of the financial sector. This year’s course focused on Lessons from Recent Crises and Current Priorities for Finance Practitioners and Policy-Makers. The timing was quite fitting—the course took place the same week that JP Morgan’s billion-dollar trading became public and the European crisis intensified as Greek banks suffered large deposit runs.

Perhaps not surprisingly in light of recent events affecting the financial sector in the US and Europe, three main broad themes resonated in many of the sessions of the course: (1) the need for more and better bank capital, (2) the importance of putting in place the right incentives for banks to limit the risks they take, and (3) the role of macroprodudential regulation in monitoring and limiting systemic risk.