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September 2013

What Does the Fox Say? Top Ten Ideas From City Fox

Dan Hoornweg's picture

Chances are by now you’ve seen the video ‘What Does the Fox Say?’ The Ylvis brothers developed a catchy music video starting in Norway and spreading like a wild fire across the planet, jumping from city to city. In less than a week 15 million people watched the fox dance and try to make his case
Videos and other social media are emerging as one of the most powerful forces shaping countries and cities. For example, Oscar Morales and his Facebook campaign to ban FARC in Colombia, the Arab Spring, and Toronto’s recent police shootings and earlier G20 beatings (video taped and shared widely – police charged and convicted).
Many of us may think of the more urban mammals like a cow or two, raccoons, squirrels, rats, feral dogs and cats, but when it comes to cities, the fox has a lot to say. Here are a few of his likely comments on cities.

Avoiding the “Planning Paradox”: The New World Bank Strategy Must Take Risk and Uncertainty into Account

Norman Loayza's picture

The following post is a part of a series that discusses 'managing risk for development,' the theme of the World Bank’s upcoming World Development Report 2014.

As the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus wrote, the only thing constant is change. And with change comes uncertainty. Faced with choices for bettering their lives, people make virtually every decision in the presence of uncertainty. Young people decide what to study without knowing exactly what jobs and wages will be available when they enter the labor market. Adults decide how much to save for retirement in the face of uncertain future income and health conditions. Farmers decide what to cultivate not knowing with certainty whether there will be enough rain for their crops and what demand and prices their products will command in the market. And governments decide the level of policy interest rates and fiscal deficits in the presence of uncertain external conditions and domestic productivity growth.

Speed Reading Rocks, So Why Don’t We All Learn It?

Duncan Green's picture

The best day’s training I ever did was a speed reading course, offered by DFID (I had a short stint there about ten years ago). It helps me every day – when was the last time you could say that about a training course?

The first part of the course covered what you normally think of as speed reading – reading faster. When you read unaided, your eye jumps backwards and forwards, as well as up and down between the lines. By simply using a guide (a pencil, or one of those plastic coffee stirrers) and moving it under the line as you read, you can double your speed without missing content (we tested ourselves at the beginning and end of the day, and it was true).

But you have to concentrate really hard and take regular breaks, and you have to avoid saying the words aloud in your head (which slows you down). Since then, I have occasionally tried it, but it hasn’t stuck.

The second part of the training seemed less significant at the time, but has had a much bigger impact: how to approach a document. Unless you’re reading for pleasure, you should not just assume that you start at the beginning and read through to the end. The document has to earn your time.

That means:

Prospects Daily: Portugal’s funding costs jumps to 10-month high, U.S. housing starts disappoint, Malaysia’s inflation comes in below target

Global Macroeconomics Team's picture
Financial Markets… European and Japanese stocks advanced on Wednesday ahead of the Federal Reserve’s decision on stimulus program. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index gained 0.3%, trading near its five-year high level reached on Monday, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed up 1.4% to an eight-week high on expectations the Fed’s tapering will be modest.

World Bank Fellowships for Young Africans and Diasporans

Maleele Choongo's picture
World Bank Group Fellowship Program for Ph.D. Students of African Descent
The World Bank is launching its Africa Fellowship Program and offering 6-month fellowships to young Africans and African Diasporans currently enrolled in post-graduate programs on the continent. The Bank is calling for applications from interested students who are passionate about development in Africa and meet the following criteria:
  • Be African or of African descent
  • Be within one or two years of completing their Ph.D.
  • Be enrolled in an academic institution and returning to university after the program
  • Be below 32 years of age
  • Have an excellent command of English (both written and verbal)
  • Possess strong quantitative and analytical skills

Participation in the program may start at any time during the year. Fellows receive round-trip air travel to Washington, D.C. from their university, and remuneration during their fellowship. Throughout their Fellowship, students will be able to use their access to World Bank facilities, information and staff to enhance their doctoral research. After completing six months of the fellowship, high performers will be offered an additional six months to continue their work with the Bank.

Testing information constraints on India's largest antipoverty program

LTD Editors's picture

Public knowledge about India's ambitious Employment Guarantee Scheme is low in one of India's poorest states, Bihar, where participation is also unusually low. Is the solution simply to tell people their rights? Or does their lack of knowledge reflect deeper problems of poor people's agency and an unresponsive supply side?

A Lot of Homework and a Bit of Luck: How Some Southeast Asian Countries Snagged GVCs

Swarnim Wagle's picture

Samsung factory in Vietnam. Source -, four-fifths of world trade – worth around US$15 trillion – happens along global value chains (GVCs) coordinated by multinational enterprises (MNEs), or corporations that manage production or deliver products across several countries. These enterprises have always played an important role in connecting developing countries to world markets. The issue of what drives their location, and how much countries can do to become part of their value chains is, therefore, of enduring policy interest. We know that fundamentals help – investment climate, infrastructure, and cost of doing business are all important – but they are by no means a guarantee. Rather, serendipity and historical accidents have played major roles in the success or failure of many similar countries in Asia that tried to attract and keep the investment of MNEs. Can the history of global value chains tell us anything about the future? More to the point, is there anything developing countries can do to increase their chances of harnessing this engine of growth?

Media (R)evolutions: Mobile Growth Rates by Region

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

New developments and curiosities from a changing global media landscape: People, Spaces, Deliberation brings trends and events to your attention that illustrate that tomorrow's media environment will look very different from today's, and will have little resemblance to yesterday's.

This week's Media (R)evolutions: Mobile Growth Rates by Region


The global demographic dividend and how to make the most of it

Wolfgang Fengler's picture

From a global demographic standpoint, our generation and those of our parents and grand-parents, experienced the most profound shifts in human history ever. Assuming your grandparents were born around 100 years ago, the world they came into consisted of less than 2 billion people. When I was in primary school, that figure had doubled to 4; I remember apocalyptic projections and calls to stop such uncontrolled population growth. Today, the world is home to almost 7.2 billion people and demographic doomsday scenarios have not materialized.

Three generations at a family owned village store in KabulAlthough human suffering remains tragically widespread, the world is undoubtedly a much better place today than it was 100 years ago.  An average person is healthier, better educated and wealthier than his or her grandparents. Strong growth in poor and emerging nations has fostered the emergence of a global middle class, even in Africa. In most parts of the world, the Millennium Development Goals will also be reached. There are few places left on earth where universal primary enrollment and vaccination have not been achieved, with the associated spectacular drops in child mortality.

Building the evidence based roadmap for women's economic empowerment

Markus Goldstein's picture
On Monday I was at the UN Foundation's launch of a new report, A Roadmap for Promoting Women's Economic Empowerment.  Authored by Mayra Buvinic, Rebecca Furst-Nichols and Emily Courey Pryor this report provides a significant step forward in making sense of the rapidly growing evidence base on what works and what does not for gender equality.   [Full disclosure: with co-authors I contributed two of the many background papers for this report].