Another top edition of The Economist. Sorry.

April 8, 2010

     By Duncan Green     

I know it’s politically incorrect to like The Economist (the magazine, that is, not the profession), but I can’t help it. In particular, the second half usually sees the writers lay off the free market ideological drumbeat a bit, providing loads of useful content for development wonks. Take last week’s edition, for example:

The failure of South Africa’s Black Economic Empowerment rules leads President Zuma to launch a new council to advise on ‘broader based’ BEE

How will Uganda cope with its new oil bonanza? Uganda will soon become a mid-sized producer on a par with Mexico, with oil bringing in $2bn a year by 2015. But the windfall is also stoking regional tensions within Uganda. And it looks like China’s CNOOC oil company will get the oil.

Sierra Leone graduates from gruesome civil war to sending peacekeepers to Darfur, in the latest development of the country’s ‘responsibility to protect’ success story

Indonesia wants to join the big league of rising developing countries within the G20 – will the BRICS becomes BRIICS (or I-BRICS)?

Ghana takes on the mining firms, demanding increased royalties (but only from 3 to 5%) and starts cracking down on environmental abuses

South Korea’s remarkable rebound, led by the chaebol conglomerates like Samsung, previously denounced as ‘crony capitalists’

Why sovereign defaults (when countries refuse to pay their debts) don’t usually lead to economic disaster (and lenders usually start lending as normal after a year, despite their pre-default threats)

Is Geo-engineering the new GM? (i.e. a scientific fix that turns out to be a political minefield). If so, we need to sort out the rules governing GE, as soon as possible: ‘the ‘Oxford Principles’, as they are known, hold that GE should be regulated as a public good, in that, since people cannot opt out, the whole proceeding has to be in a well-defined public interest; that decisions defining the extent of that interest should be made with public participation; that all attempts at GE research should be made public and their results disseminated openly; that there should be an independent assessment of the impacts of any GE research proposal; and that governing arrangements be made clear prior to any actual use of the technologies.’ Sounds good to me.

April 8, 2010
Duncan Green