Peasant activists v King Arthur; future geopolitics; nuclear self-love and an environmental good news story: links I liked

February 13, 2009
Monty Python and Development part 2: peasant activists debate good governance with King Arthur (thanks to Richard Cunliffe for that one) Katharina Pintor sets out some alternative geopolitical orders emerging from the crisis Extreme self promotion from AQ Khan, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb, c/o global Dashboard Ngaire Woods and co at Oxford’s Global Economic Governance project  and an

Medical myth-busting: Why public beats private on health care provision

February 12, 2009
Today Oxfam publishes Blind Optimism: Challenging the myths about private health care in poor countries, written by my colleague Anna Marriott. She summed up the arguments in this op-ed on the Guardian’s Comment is Free website, and was in Washington this week driving the message home to the World Bank, whose default position of ‘private good, public bad’ has so far proved remarkably

How Open is Your Government? Find out here

February 11, 2009
The latest ‘Open Budget Index‘ (2008), produced by the Open Budget Initiative, ranks governments according to the information they make available to the public throughout the budget process. The main findings are: Only five countries of the 85 surveyed—France, New Zealand, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States—make extensive information publicly available as required by generally accepted good public financial

How do you manage people who don’t want to be led and may be smarter than you?

February 10, 2009
That’s the kicker question in a recent Harvard Business Review piece by Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones which certainly struck a chord with me (not that I’m admitting that the people I manage are smarter than me, obviously…) Here are a few choice quotes: ‘They are acutely aware of the salaries and bonuses attached to their work, they often treat

What is Gordon Brown thinking on the G20 summit?

February 9, 2009
I joined a roomful of suits today for an hour with the PM. The venue was Lancaster House, the pink marble and gilt architectural cheesecake that will be the venue for the G20 summit on 2 April. Perhaps there’s guilt as well as gilt – Lancaster House previously hosted talks that led to the independence of Zimbabwe, Ghana and Kenya,

Why is development writing so turgid? George Orwell to the rescue

February 6, 2009
The literature on development can be pretty heavy going, littered with jargon, clunky prose, redundant phrases like ‘in the context of’ and euphemisms like ‘challenge’ (it means a problem). I spend a fair amount of my time reading draft papers, replacing ’employment opportunities are essential constituents of the livelihoods of the excluded population’ with ‘poor people need jobs’ and so on.  This matters

Is The Economist going socialist?

February 4, 2009
The back half of The Economist (business, finance and economics) is having an excellent crisis. If you’re willing to filter out the gratuitous (and increasingly defensive) neoclassical riffs, there is some really excellent analysis in there and even some (perhaps inadvertent) progressive thinking. This week’s edition includes a three page briefing on the Asian economies and a handy summary of the

Protectionism – good or bad? It depends……

February 3, 2009
I wrote this for the ‘Development and the Crisis‘ website I plugged recently, but thought I’d recycle it here: It’s official. Protectionism is the Great Satan. Gordon Brown decries it in Davos; William Easterly crows over what he sees as Dani Rodrik’s conversion to the cause. All countries must eschew protectionism or risk a disastrous return to the trade wars that triggered

Global Social Democracy – Why I disagree with Walden Bello

February 2, 2009
Just came across ‘The Coming Capitalist Consensus’, a thought-provoking polemic by Walden Bello, the Filipino anti-globalization guru and sociology professor based at Focus on the Global South. Walden argues that a new form of ‘Global Social Democracy’ (GSD) is emerging from the crisis of market fundamentalism and finance capitalism. He sums up its key propositions as:

A Promising new debate on the financial crisis

January 29, 2009
Take a look at Development and the Crisis, a new online debate moderated by Dani Rodrik, which has kicked off with contributions from Nancy Birdsall, Jose Antonio Ocampo, Arvind Subramanian, and Yung Chul Park. Here are some excerpted highlights from Dani’s opening pitch ‘Let developing nations rule’:

Greed, Fear, Deregulation and previous crashes: the origins of the meltdown

January 28, 2009
Rich pickings in this week’s Economist with a special report on the future of finance, and a nice briefing on ‘global economic imbalances’ that ties together the East Asian crisis of the late 90s with the current mess. The story runs like this, (allowing for my non-Economist spin) The East Asian financial crisis of the late 90s was caused by

What would a global food security policy look like?

January 27, 2009
Sticking to yesterday’s theme of food, check out ‘The Feeding of the Nine Billion‘, an excellent new paper by Alex Evans. Alex combines the skills of academic and consultant with his insider experience as a former special adviser to Hilary Benn, then UK Secretary of State for International Development. He specialises in what George Lakoff calls ‘reframing‘ – here he