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Today the Democratic Republic of the Congo turns fifty. That half century is hard to summarize in general terms; it produced Joseph Mobutu, but it also produced Valentin Mudimbe. Summary is much easier, however, in terms of economic development: D.R. Congo has gone back to the Bronze Age.
Over 7 million people are expected to face severe food shortages in Niger over the next few months. When I was there in early June, many villages in the far east of the country had not yet received rain, there had been an exodus of young men to Nigeria, Benin and Libya, and women were searching for the bitter green berry – known as dilo – to cook and eat, a last resort for those who have nothing.
I heartily applaud the release of the G-20 Principles for Innovative Financial Inclusion (click and scroll down to see them). At a time of increased focus on financial sector regulation to reduce risk, it is crucial that we not lose sight of the fact that increasing access to appropriate financial services remains essential to reducing poverty and achieving sustained growth.
The G-8 and G-20 summits held in Canada last week yielded few headlines on development issues, but there was plenty of rhetoric about global interdependence and poverty reduction and a handful of promising, if mostly modest, development initiatives just below the media’s radar.
As expected, the G-20 declaration focused on when and how to unwind stimulus programs that helped to avert a global economic collapse, and on strengthening regulation of the financial sector to avoid a repeat of the 2008–09 financial crisis.
No surprises on the G-20 front. Deficits and financial sector reform dominated the headlines coming out of last weekend’s Toronto Summit. Development appeared largely as an afterthought. Even though my heart and head are hopelessly hitched to development policy, I think the focus was about right. Ensuring robust recoveries in G-20 nations will do more to support growth in poor countries than endlessly rehashed debates about global aid flows. Leave that for the UN MDG Summit this September. That said, the G-20 did do something small worth highlighting. Tucked away unobtrusively in the
Yesterday I attended the launch of a new Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) study on the potential benefits of completing the Doha Round of trade negotiations. While I share that goal, and hope that Gary Hufbauer’s and Jeff Schott’s sharp analysis can help deliver it, it still seems a distant prospect.
This blog post also appeared on the Huffington Post.
For four days, forty-nine Kimberley Process members were holed up in Tel Aviv contemplating Zimbabwe’s future. Countries like South Africa, Israel, the European Community, and the United States were deadlocked over whether to continue their existing export ban on Zimbabwean diamonds. What’s at stake is much bigger than diamonds. It’s about corruption, repression, and freedom. A vote to rescind the diamond ban could have slammed the door shut on a truly democratic future for Zimbabwe’s people. It would have been a massive coup for Robert Mugabe and his security force allies. And a death blow to those who have sacrificed everything for change. Thankfully, the Kimberley Process members sided with the forces of democracy. The diamond ban will stay.
The McKinsey Global Institute, the research arm of consulting giant McKinsey &Co, has just released its latest report, Lions on the Move: The Progress and Potential of African Economies. The report concludes that “Africa's economic growth is creating substantial new business opportunities that are often overlooked by global companies.
Muthukumara Mani, an environmental economist at the World Bank, has written a moving account of the efforts underway in Orissa, one of India’s poorest states, to figure out what to do about climate change—not the future threat of climate change, but the impacts hitting poor people in Orissa NOW: