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from Breakingviews:

Ebola sets clock ticking on West African economy

By Martin Hutchinson

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. 

The West African economy may yet survive Ebola – but the clock is ticking. Matching the last four years’ 28 pct growth isn’t realistic. Controlling the deadly outbreak before year’s end, though, could preserve enough investment and resources to meet an expanding population’s needs. Given the virus has already spread as far as America, there’s no time to waste.

The numbers tell a compelling story. The economy of the 15-country region grew an average of 6.4 percent annually from 2010 to 2013, and the projected rate for 2014 was 7 percent, according to African Economic Outlook. That would typically lead to rapid increases in average economic well-being, even with the population growing at a 2.3 percent annual clip.

Inflation is also manageable, averaging less than 10 percent a year. Deficits are high at 2 percent of GDP, but even they would not ordinarily be a problem, given the current availability of global financing.

from Data Dive:

Ebola’s spread brings host of other diseases in its wake

Almost 3,000 West Africans have died from the current outbreak of Ebola virus, and on Tuesday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that by January between 550,000 and 1.4 million people could be infected if nothing is done.

But the outbreak, which began in Guinea in March before spreading to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Senegal, is only part of the terrifying picture. Last week, fear of Ebola caused locals to kill eight members of an Ebola education team, sick people are avoiding clinics, and the World Health Organization says that 208 of the 373 infected healthcare workers in the region have died from the virus.

from Full Focus:

Frontlines of Ebola

Attempts to stop the spread of the worst outbreak of the disease in history.

from Breakingviews:

Fear is key to Ebola’s economic contagion

By Una Galani

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Fear is key to the economic contagion of Ebola. The gruesome disease that has claimed 1,145 lives in parts of Africa has yet to travel beyond that region’s borders. But Asia’s crisis with severe respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003 showed what might happen if it does. Changes to behaviour hurt growth and productivity more than the actual disease.

from The Great Debate:

Remember the movie ‘Outbreak?’ Yeah, Ebola’s not really like that.

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The Ebola outbreak continues to spread in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the countries hardest hit by the disease. More than 1,000 people have now died from the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued its highest-level alert for a response to the Ebola crisis. The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. The disease is intensifying in West Africa, but the epidemic poses minimal risk to Americans. So why are we so afraid?

Scientists think about the risk of Ebola in terms of how likely someone will get it and die. That probability of someone in this country dying from Ebola is miniscule. But how the average person thinks about risk is more complicated. Other factors -- including fear of the exotic, dramatic and gruesome -- heighten our anxieties and capture our imaginations.

from Global Markets Forum Dashboard:

U.S. shale revolution continues to upend geopolitics

Dominick Chirichella, president, Energy Management Institute

Dominick Chirichella, president, Energy Management Institute

Oil traders who bet on rising prices were hit with a double whammy on Tuesday in the way of announcements from the top two energy data agencies. The still-nascent U.S. shale energy revolution is upending eons-old geopolitical events and it still seems to be in the early days.

Global energy watchdog the International Energy Agency revised lower its outlook for oil demand this year back to 2012 levels as the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said July U.S. oil production rose to its highest in more than a quarter century.

from The Great Debate:

The price of a life and George W. Bush post-White House

[CROSSPOST blog: 2398 post: 1872]

Original Post Text:

A spectator smokes a cigarette as she waits for the start of the Dubai World Cup at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai

1. How government accountants value life:

Last week, the New York Times reported: “Buried deep in the federal government’s voluminous new tobacco regulations is a little-known cost-benefit calculation that public health experts see as potentially poisonous: the happiness quotient. It assumes that the benefits from reducing smoking -- fewer early deaths and diseases of the lungs and heart -- have to be discounted by 70 percent to offset the loss in pleasure that smokers suffer when they give up their habit.”

I hope editors at the New Yorker or Sixty Minutes noticed.

Did you know that a federal agency -- the Office of Management and Budget, which did the cost-benefit analysis described by the Times -- actually employs people who calculate how many lives will be saved by government regulations; then calculates the dollar value of the lives saved, and then weighs that value against the “cost” of the regulation?  Apparently in this case, part of the cost to be calculated was the cost of the lost pleasure from quitting smoking.

from Stories I’d like to see:

The price of life and George W. Bush post-White House

A spectator smokes a cigarette as she waits for the start of the Dubai World Cup at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai

1. How government accountants value life:

Last week, the New York Times reported: “Buried deep in the federal government’s voluminous new tobacco regulations is a little-known cost-benefit calculation that public health experts see as potentially poisonous: the happiness quotient. It assumes that the benefits from reducing smoking -- fewer early deaths and diseases of the lungs and heart -- have to be discounted by 70 percent to offset the loss in pleasure that smokers suffer when they give up their habit.”

I hope editors at the New Yorker or Sixty Minutes noticed.

Did you know that a federal agency -- the Office of Management and Budget, which did the cost-benefit analysis described by the Times -- actually employs people who calculate how many lives will be saved by government regulations; then calculates the dollar value of the lives saved, and then weighs that value against the “cost” of the regulation?  Apparently in this case, part of the cost to be calculated was the cost of the lost pleasure from quitting smoking.

from The Great Debate:

Liberia’s poverty, skepticism of experts makes treating Ebola harder

Medical staff working with Medecins sans Frontieres prepare to bring food to patients kept in an isolation area at the MSF Ebola treatment centre in Kailahun

The media is focused on the horrors of Ebola, a disease with no known cure that is jumping across borders in West Africa, leaving more than 900 dead in its wake. Fears of the disease’s spread even traveled to the United States, where two Ebola patients are being treated at Emory University hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.

The virus first appeared in West Africa in March, but suddenly gained momentum in the past few weeks, making it the worst outbreak ever. The vast majority of cases and deaths have been in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, but Nigeria now confirms the presence of the disease.

from The Great Debate:

Violence or vaccines: Which path for U.S. in Africa?

A U.S. Special Forces trainer conducts a military assault drill for a unit within the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) during an exercise in Nzara on the outskirts of Yambio

Africa is the new frontier for the U.S. Defense Department. The Pentagon has applied counterterrorism tactics throughout the Middle East and, to a lesser extent, Central and South Asia. Now it is monitoring the African continent for counterterrorism initiatives. It staged more than 546 military exercises on the continent last year, a 217 percent increase since 2008, and is now involved in nearly 50 African countries.

  RELATED COLUMNS Michael Elliott: Africa’s about more than Ebola, it’s about optimism, too

U.S. military and police aid to all Africa this year totaled nearly $1.8 billion, with additional arms sales surpassing $800 million. In terms of ensuring Africa’s safety and security, however, the return on this investment is questionable.

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