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March 2013

Quote of the Week: Simon Schama

Sina Odugbemi's picture

"Essay writing and reading is our resistance to the pygmy-fication of the language animal; our shrinkage into the brand, the sound bite, the business platitude; the solipsistic tweet. Essays are the last, heroic stand for the seriousness of prose entertainment; our best hope of liberating text from texting."

- Simon Schama, Professor of History and Art History at Columbia University, New York. He is the author of numerous award-winning books, and has written more than thirty documentaries.

Quote from the Financial Times, September 13, 2012. Why I write, by Simon Schama.

Citizen Engagement in Development Projects: What We Know, What We Need to Do and Learn

Caroline Anstey's picture

Read this post in Español, Français

Remember the old saying "the customer is always right"? The motto used by a number of prominent retailers (like Marshall Field) was all about placing value on customer satisfaction. In essence it was about listening to the customer – the final point person at the end of the retail line.

Today we are seeing business build far more sophisticated means of using modern technology to get feedback from their customers. It begs the question – if business can do that, why can't we try and do the same in the business of development - with the benefit of modern technology?

I've seen the evidence that we can do it. Last October at the World Bank, we applauded the work of teams in Bangladesh, Brazil, Cambodia and India, who've been using the mix of modern technology and development to boost results.

How effective is monetary policy in the absence of bank competition?

Alfredo Mier y Teran's picture

In the wake of the Great Recession there is a general consensus that monetary easing is key to stimulating investment and to strengthening economic recovery. However, there is a widespread concern that monetary stimulus is not reaching all markets evenly. For example, the International Monetary Fund (IMF, 2012) argues that monetary easing is allowing large corporations to access capital at record low rates, while small firms are struggling to obtain bank loans. Along the same lines, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York suggests that the recent purchases of mortgage backed securities by the Federal Reserve were not effective in lowering primary mortgage rates, in part, because banks increased their margins.

Motivated by such concerns, in this paper I tackle the idea that bank competition affects the transmission of monetary policy across markets. In particular, I analyze the speed and completeness of the pass-through of the monetary policy rate to bank lending rates, and provide evidence on the importance of bank competition to explain heterogeneity in the way banks react to monetary policy impulses, using a unique transaction-level data set that includes all corporate loans of every commercial bank in Mexico from 2005 to 2010. For this purpose, I develop a simple model of the banking firm and test its implications using dynamic panel data methods.

Evaluating after the barn-door has been left open: Evaluating Heifer’s Give-a-Goat or Give-a-Cow Programs

David McKenzie's picture

The gift of a dairy goat represents a lasting, meaningful way for you to help a little boy or girl on the other side of the world (US$120); or how about a flock of ducks (US$20); or go all out and donate a water buffalo ($250). People need "a cow, not a cup"—cows that could produce milk so families would not have to depend on temporary aid.

International animal donation programs of the type mentioned here are one of the most well-known types of charitable requests, and are used by a number of major charities worldwide. The best known exponent of this program is Heifer International, from which the examples above are taken.  The purported goals of such programs are to improve the nutritional outcomes of participating households and provide a pathway out of poverty.

Coping with the Crisis. Lessons from Latvia, Albania, and Romania

Mary Hallward-Driemeier's picture

A baker in her Albanian shop. Photo: ©World Bank

Many of the hardest hit countries during the recent financial crisis were in Eastern Europe — and now the prospect of a "jobless recovery" is a real concern. Although the level of output has risen and growth has resumed, unemployment rates are still above pre-crisis levels, especially for youth. In addition, the episodes of unemployment are increasing in length, with a significant share unemployed for over a year.

The surprising rates of depression among MENA’s women

Caroline Freund's picture

        World Bank | Arne Hoel

Recently I attended a health strategy meeting, where indicators of health risks showed depression to be the top disease affecting women in the Middle East and North Africa but not men (where it was on average 7th place). In one sense, this is not too surprising because depression affects women more than men everywhere. On average, globally, depression ranks 6th for women and 16th for men. Still, MENA is unique.

FridayRoundup: Africa's TMM, Reputational Rankings, Bono, and Spending on Food

LTD Editors's picture

Whether Africa is ‘catching up’ or ‘is not catching up enough’ with economic development, it’s definitely lagging behind in Technical Maverick Movements (TMM). Taking a cue from the ‘economic transformation’ model, Bright B. Simon writes, “Technical Maverick Movements (TMMs) when they become part of the establishment are adept at harnessing power…… You either shift or you don’t”. Read the post on and find out why there is no middle way for Africa’s path to competitiveness.

Many readers are probably familiar with the rankings of the top Universities worldwide by quality of education. But have you checked out their reputational ranking? California Institute of Technology may be the place to study in 2103, but reputation-wise, it’s not so high. Find the entire list here.

President Kim Discusses Role of Youth in India’s Bold Future

Ravi Kumar's picture

Local boys look on during the visit of World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim to the low income suburb of Gwaltoli on his tour of Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh state, India. 

"India must take advantage of having a young population. Never doubt the possibilities for this country,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim to youth in India. During an hour-long NDTV program, President Kim answered questions that ranged from reducing poverty to tackling water crises in the country.

China Gets Ready for a New Carbon Era

Wang Shu's picture

 Rush hour traffic on a road in Beijing, China. - Photo: Shutterstock

Also available in Chinese

The 5th Assembly of the World Bank’s Partnership for Market Readiness (PMR) is coming to an end after rich and rewarding meetings in Washington DC this week. I had the opportunity to present China’s final Market Readiness Proposal (MRP) (pdf), or in more simple language, China’s proposal to build a national emission trading system (ETS). Together with China, the PMR also received proposals from Chile, Costa Rica and Mexico on their initiatives. (Also read: Can Carbon Taxes Be Effective?)

From the Chinese perspective, our MRP serves as a summary of the Government’s initial thoughts on how a domestic ETS would be established to cover the whole country. For this to happen, a lot of work needs to be done, and this proposal provides a framework and roadmap to guide us on our journey. We are expecting domestic and international institutions, experts and stakeholders from different levels to be involved in this design process. Above all, we hope to draw on the experience of existing carbon markets around the world as well as from the seven pilot ETSs - comprising five cities and two provinces - set to start this year in China. Facilitating continuous technical dialogues, PMR serves as a knowledge exchange platform for our team from China and all the participant countries. This is a unique and valuable experience. 

Ending Poverty and "Factivism"

Maya Brahmam's picture

Can factivism push us closer to the edge of ending extreme poverty? This was the subject of Bono’s latest TED Talk on ending poverty. Simply put, according to Bono, technology can help us end extreme poverty in a variety of ways, from creating new drugs for AIDS to empowering people via openness and transparency. And numbers from the World Bank’s Research Group show this shift: 22% of the developing world’s population – or 1.29 billion people – lived on $1.25 or less a day in 2008, down from 43% in 1990 and 523% in 1981.

So how do we accelerate this progress? One answer may be in moving the focus to empowering people to develop their own solutions using new technologies and using data to make better decisions. We’re hoping that the Data Dives for our “Big Data Exploration” this weekend—being done jointly with UNDP, Global Pulse, and Qatar Computing Research Institute – will help us get a little bit closer to solving larger development questions. This pilot will explore whether the Bank and other development organizations can use big data to deliver better operational results and increase development effectiveness.