Occasional Links 11

In anticipation of the IMF/World Bank 2006 annual meetings that’s going to be held in Singapore from 12 to 20 September, this week’s links are dedicated to International Development issues.

International Development:

1) In the midst of all the hoo-ha (legitimate, I might add) of recent years about the important role of the private sector in development (e.g. CK Prahalad’s Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid) and of combining the business and the social (e.g. Microcredit, Social Entrepreneurship), it’s easy to forget that for many of the poor in the world – perhaps even for most and for the poorest of the poor – much of their needs cannot be met through the market. This is the reason for the continuing need for aid and – as this Oxfam report In the Public Interest elucidates – strong public/state systems. As one of the report’s authors said, “Greater involvement of the private sector and NGOs can only work if public services are good.”

2) Speaking of Prahalad’s Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, for those who don’t know, this book has been quite very influential in changing the way people think about helping the poor. In his book, Prahalad argues for treating the poor as consumers and making money off them while helping them at the same time. Check out these articles (here and here) by him as well as an interview with him. Aneel Karnani has recently produced a critical response to Prahalad’s ideas which can be found here. In turn, Prahalad has responded here. For other comments on the exchanges, see those by Atanu Dey and Al Hammond. I’m sure more debate will follow which can only be good.

3) The Economic Freedom of the World: 2006 Annual Report has just been released. Singapore came in number two after Hong Kong. Prominent development economist William Easterly, author of the recently highly acclaimed book, The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good, is one of the co-authors. It’s good to note that this report was jointly published by two right-wing, economically conservative, libertarian think-tanks. Unsuprisingly, one of the main theses of this report is that economic freedom has a greater impact than foreign aid in eliminating poverty and it even goes so far as proposing cautiously that foreign aid may hinder growth. World Bank’s Doing Business 2007 report has also just been released, with Singapore occupying first place as the best country to do business in. As compared to the Economic Freedom of the World report, the Doing Business report measures more micro issues like business regulations and laws. Both of these reports would be of interest to those who believe that the private sector and entrepreneurship have an important role to play in the economic development of developing (and developed) countries.

4) Still on the topic of aid and economic freedom, Ruth Lea claims that Aid can be an obstacle to making poverty history. Paolo de Renzio responds by asking us to beware of aid skeptics.

5) Joseph Stiglitz recently released his newest book Making Globalization Work. Somewhat critical reviews available from the New York Times, the Economist and the Scotsman. Stiglitz also recently wrote a syndicated column on globalization.

6) Still on the topic on globalization, Branko Milanovic has a two-part series on Why Globalization is in Trouble – part 1 & part 2 – while Daniel Altman has an article on globalization and inequality.

7) For those who want to read more about some of the less radical concerns and criticisms people have of the World Bank, check out the book Rescuing the World Bank which is another publication recently released, this time by the credible Center for Global Development (CGD). Selected essays can be viewed here. Do also check out The Hardest Job in the World: Five Crucial Tasks for the New President of the World Bank.

8) Wal-Mart, everyone’s favorite target, on a mission to eliminate poverty and save the environment? Meanwhile, check out this new website FLOW,which is all about liberating the entrepreneurial spirit for good, which is really what Wal-Mart can be all about.

9) Timberland: a model of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)? See here and here.

10) Another World Is Possible? One that places less emphasis on individualism and market forces and more on solidarity and co-operation? An example perhaps being Hugo Ch├ívez’s Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela.

One reply on “Occasional Links 11”

  1. Congratulations on an excellent and interesting blog, and thank you for posting Ethan Miller’s article on solidarity economics from the July/August issue of Dollars & Sense magazine. Since you mention Hugo Chavez’s Bolivarian Revolution, your readers may also be interested in Betsy Bowman and Bob Stone’s article about co-ops in Venezuela: http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2006/0706bowmanstone.html

    An earlier posting is about Timberland’s Corporate Social Responsibility program. An article in the May/June issue of Dollars & Sense, makes some criticisms of Timberland’s program and other CSR programs that ignore companies’ (or subcontractors’) violations of existing labor laws and regulations:
    http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2006/0506marihugh.html

    Thanks again for a great blog!

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