Mauritania, like its Sahelian neighbors, is struggling with three problems: drought, high food prices and security threats. All of these threats are driven in some form by global climate change to the point where they are threatening economic growth, stability and peace.
2014 is already shaping up to be another exciting year for the global movement for universal health coverage (UHC). I was just with World Bank Group President Jim Kim in Myanmar, where we are putting our previously announced global targets for universal health coverage into action.
Last week we released a report on the relationship between the growing concentration of income and biases in political decision making. “Working for the Few” got a lot of attention, generating the biggest-ever traffic day on the Oxfam International website the day of the launch.
A large part of the attention was generated by one fact: the 85 richest people own as much as the bottom half of the world.
I often hear that large parts of the society have rather negative views about immigration, in spite of the fact that a large majority of research papers clearly identifies more benefits than costs to people in the host country from immigration (see Shanta Devarjan’s blog). So, I decided to look more closely at some of the empirical evidence on public perceptions on migration.
Over the past decade, developed and developing countries alike have been experimenting with a new way of delivering government services called "deliverology" - an approach to facilitate collaboration among people. The JKP recently spoke with an expert on the topic – Charles Sabel, Maurice T. Moore Professor of Law and Social Science, Columbia Law School – to get a sense of how these units are evolving in practice to support economic and development goals.
The World Bank has been collecting statistics on the debt of its borrowing countries since 1951, through the Debtor Reporting System. Published for many years as World Debt Tables (see, for example, the 1982 edition here) and then as Global Development Finance (initially as Volume 2), the 2013 dataset - which contains data for 2011 - was published in a renamed publication as International Debt Statistics, with expanded coverage of Quarterly External Debt Statistics and Public Sector Debt.
Last year we reviewed our dissemination strategy for World Development Indicators (WDI), and made some improvements to improve the quality and accessibility of the statistical indicators, tables and analyses. This year we’ve looked at debt statistics, and are planning some changes here as well; while the 2014 dataset - which contains data for 2012 - has been released in mid-December as usual, we’ll be releasing the redesigned data products in mid-February.
"Cynics who say power is all that counts in politics forget that power without ideas is just improvisation."
- Michael Ignatieff, Canadian author, academic, and former politician
(Non-)rationality in economic decisions
As last year’s choice of the Nobel award for economic sciences well reflects, economists are deeply divided as to whether, and how, rationality should be modified as a basic assumption for modeling asset allocation and pricing decisions.
The three Nobel laureates for 2013 — Eugene Fama, Lars Peter Hansen, and Robert Shiller — epitomize the economics profession’s broad spectrum of positions currently existing on the subject: from Fama’s unflinching faith in the full rationality of economic action to Shiller’s recognition of the influence of non-rational and irrational factors upon human economic determinations, passing through Hansen’s acceptance of “distorted beliefs” as explanations of some otherwise inconsistent economic behaviors empirically observed.
The unresolved differences bear on the scientific status of contemporary macroeconomic analysis, especially since the crisis of 2007-09 has demonstrated the inadequacy of its underlying microfoundations. Particular attention has since been placed by economists on what they really know about asset bubbles, as these cannot be endogenized within purely rational choice models, and policymakers have re-considered whether bubbles can (or should) be managed in the public interest.