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Rice Prices Tumble But Remain Out of Reach for Many of the Poor

This is a joint posting with Peter Timmer
Rice prices have continued to tumble this week amid reports that Cambodia is moving to ease export restrictions and other exporters may follow suit. This came after Japan's announcement that it would proceed with sales to the Philippines of 250,000 tons of rice (200,000 tons of imports and 50,000 tons of Japanese rice), and a U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) statement that: "the United States was supportive of Japan's initiative." (Readers who are following this story will recall that the U.S. has the ability to block the re-export of U.S. rice that Japan was compelled to buy but never offered on the domestic market).

A Smart $100 Million Investment in Girls

It looks like Peter Buffett has acquired his father Warren's knack for finding the highest-yield investments. The younger Buffett, along with his wife Jennifer, just announced a collaboration with the Nike Foundation to put $100 million into programs that will benefit adolescent girls in the developing world. Like the cleverest stock pick, this venture is almost guaranteed to bring impressive short-term returns and will steadily increase in value over generations.

Let's Do the Numbers: CGD Launches Commission on Migration Data for Development Research

What is the biggest distortion in the world economy? A forty-percent price gap for identical widgets traded in two different markets is considered large these days. In capital markets, investors would be shocked by a price difference of one percent for the same security in two different exchanges. But in the global labor market, wage gaps for equivalent workers differ between countries by one thousand percent or more in some cases.

Climate Change in Nashville: A Gathering Storm for the World Bank?

I spent last Thursday with Al Gore and dozens of colleagues at the Climate Change Solutions Summit, near Gore's home in Nashville, Tennessee. Gore led several jam-packed sessions, whose common theme was the search for ways out of the impasse on climate change. Some sessions took the long view, searching for clues in the history of the industrial revolution and successful social reform movements. Others, like my own session, focused on concrete steps that can be taken now.

Kudos to Tokyo and Washington on Rice Sales -- Et Tu, Thailand and India?

This post is joint with Tom Slayton, a rice trade expert and former editor of The Rice Trader

Today in Tokyo, Japan's Vice Minister for Agriculture, Toshirou Shirasu, told reporters that Japan plans to export 200,000 tons of rice to the Philippines "as fast as possible." This confirmed sale comes on top of 50,000 tons of Japanese rice previously under discussion. Even the anticipation of these sales had done much to take the speculative steam out of over-heated global rice markets, as we reported towards the end of last week (see "Rice Prices Fall After Congressional Hearings But Crisis Not Over Yet"), so with some sales now officially confirmed we can hope to see further easing of speculative pressures.

Rice Prices Fall After Congressional Hearings But Crisis Not Over Yet

This post is joint with Tom Slayton, a rice trade expert and former editor of The Rice Trader
It has been a busy week in the rice markets following CGD's release on Monday of our note about how to puncture a speculative price bubble that threatens millions of people with malnutrition and worse (see Unwanted Rice in Japan Can Solve the Rice Crisis--If Washington and Tokyo Act ). On Wednesday our proposal was discussed at hearings on the world food crisis in both the House and Senate.

Be Careful What You Wish for: Fighting Corruption Is Good, But Not If It Means Stopping Development Assistance

Senators Lugar and Bayh are again on the anticorruption warpath. Yesterday they issued a press release calling for "a Government Accounting Office (GAO) probe of the World Bank's anticorruption efforts." They want to make sure that the U.S.'s $950 million contribution to the International Development Association is not being "misspent and enriching corrupt foreign regimes." Certainly sounds reasonable, but is this really the right focus for a review of World Bank operations?

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