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Zimbabwe's Funny Money and the Astrophysics of Hyperinflation

This is a joint posting with Robin Kraft

When I lived in Zimbabwe a mere 18 years ago, one U.S. dollar was worth about 2.5 Zimbabwe dollars. A few years later I returned and was shocked that the value of the local currency had fallen by more than 50% to Z$6: US$1. (How quaint!) Since the central bank has spent much of the last few years pointlessly trying to defy the laws of money supply -- printing more and more cash to pay its bills -- we are witnessing both hyperinflation (231 million % at last official count) and a mind-spinning vortex of collapsing value for the local currency. The government released a new Z$500 million note last week. As of last Friday, this was worth around US$10. But let's not forget that 14 zeros have been lopped off the currency in the past two years. Thus, using the original Zim dollar (I must still have a few in an old backpack) the exchange rate is really US$1 to:

Z$ 5,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

Stopping the Emerging Markets Contagion Boomerang

The U.S. rescue package is (rightly) focused on shoring up our domestic financial markets, ground zero in the global credit crisis. Even if this effort is successful, the United States and other global financial leaders cannot ignore the impact on emerging markets. As the crisis has now spread to Latin America, Asia, and elsewhere, we need to ensure that all available tools are used so that the downturn doesn't eventually boomerang back to us.

Tanzanian President Kikwete Focuses on Education & Malaria Control

This is a joint posting with former CGD special assistant Rena Pacheco-Theard

Last week, CGD was honored to host Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete and senior officials in his government for a discussion with a small group of development experts on Tanzania's recent education and malaria control activities.

The importance that the government places on core social sectors is unmistakable – and continues a long Tanzanian tradition. Minister for Education and Vocational Training, Jumanne Maghembe, noted that, "Education is the highest priority, and the foundation of any social development venture." In fact, the education sector – primarily teacher salaries – accounts for a full 17% of the national budget. Over the past few years, the country has consolidated progress toward universal primary education and has increased secondary school enrollment by two and a half times (from a very low base). The Minister also reported on expansion in post-secondary education, including universities and vocational training centers. Attention is also being given to the early years. Zanzibar's Minister of Education, Haroun Ali Suleiman, stressed the importance of pre-primary education.

As the sector expands, the challenges are profound. The most obvious is the shortage of teachers. Historically, secondary schooling has been so limited that there simply aren't enough graduates to train as teachers. In response, at least for the near term, the government has implemented programs to bring in teachers with non-traditional training, and is looking at distance education technologies.

Tanzanian President Kikwete Focuses on Education & Malaria Control

This is a joint posting with former CGD special assistant Rena Pacheco-Theard

Last week, CGD was honored to host Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete and senior officials in his government for a discussion with a small group of development experts on Tanzania's recent education and malaria control activities.

The importance that the government places on core social sectors is unmistakable – and continues a long Tanzanian tradition. Minister for Education and Vocational Training, Jumanne Maghembe, noted that, "Education is the highest priority, and the foundation of any social development venture." In fact, the education sector – primarily teacher salaries – accounts for a full 17% of the national budget. Over the past few years, the country has consolidated progress toward universal primary education and has increased secondary school enrollment by two and a half times (from a very low base). The Minister also reported on expansion in post-secondary education, including universities and vocational training centers. Attention is also being given to the early years. Zanzibar's Minister of Education, Haroun Ali Suleiman, stressed the importance of pre-primary education.

As the sector expands, the challenges are profound. The most obvious is the shortage of teachers. Historically, secondary schooling has been so limited that there simply aren't enough graduates to train as teachers. In response, at least for the near term, the government has implemented programs to bring in teachers with non-traditional training, and is looking at distance education technologies.

Do You Have Your Job because of Your Merit or Your DNA? For Many Migrants from Poor Countries, DNA Makes the Difference

If you're not a black person, suppose you were. Suppose you were also born in New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward, which was already in poverty before it was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. So you sought to better your life by getting a job in Chicago. But then US government officials forced you not to take the job, because DNA tests proved that you are not closely related to any white person.

Scrap the G8

Once again the G8 has come up tragically short on climate change and a host of urgent problems affecting poor people in developing countries. The good news is that they are at least discussing the right topics. The first Hokkaido G8 document, on the World Economy spills lots of ink on relations between rich and developing economies, including for example, reaffirmation of support for the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

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