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from Mohamed El-Erian:

The new international economic disorder

By Mohamed El-Erian

The views expressed are his own.


A new economic order is taking shape before our eyes, and it is one that includes accelerated convergence between the old Western powers and the emerging world’s major new players. But the forces driving this convergence have little to do with what generations of economists envisaged when they pointed out the inadequacy of the old order; and these forces’ implications may be equally unsettling.

For decades, many people lamented the extent to which the West dominated the global economic system. From the governance of multilateral organizations to the design of financial services, the global infrastructure was seen as favoring Western interests. While there was much talk of reform, Western countries repeatedly countered serious efforts that would result in meaningful erosion of their entitlements.

On the few occasions that such resistance was seemingly overcome, the outcome was gradual and timid change. Consequently, many emerging-market economies lost confidence in the “pooled insurance” that the global system supposedly put at their disposal, especially at times of great need.

This change in sentiment was catalyzed by the financial crises in Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, and by what many in these regions regarded as the West’s inadequate and poorly designed responses. With their trust in bilateral assistance and multilateral institutions such as the International Monetary Fund shaken, emerging-market economies – led by those in Asia – embarked on a sustained drive toward greater financial self-reliance.

from Commodity Corner:

World population and agricultural aid

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from Global News Journal:

Is Malaysia’s net clampdown at odds with knowledge economy?

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The opposition wants to cut the sale of alcohol in a state that it rules and now the government wants to restrict Internet access .

Malaysia is a multicultural country of 27 million people in Southeast Asia. It has a majority Muslim population that of course is not allowed to drink by religion. Yet clearly some do as shown by the sentencing to caning for a young woman handed down recently

from Global News Journal:

Capitalism’s “chickens come home to roost” at the UN

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Representatives of the world's poorest countries joined other U.N. member states in New York this week at a three-day meeting of the U.N. General Assembly on the global financial crisis and its impact on the developing world.

Many delegates from "the South" blasted capitalism and the wealthy Western powers for the crisis. For once they could say they did not cause it though they are the biggest victims. Cuban Trade Minister Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz told the delegations -- roughly three quarters of the General Assembly's 192 member states are participating -- that retired Cuban leader Fidel Castro had foreseen the current crisis nearly three decades go.

from Commodity Corner:

A food czar could bring sexy back to agriculture

It seems if you got a problem in Washington today, you need a Czar to take care of it. And now some powerful U.S. senators believe the agriculture sector should get one to sharpen efforts to feed the world's poor.
    
foodaid3Former Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman told lawmakers on Tuesday that too often agriculture takes a back seat to other "sexier" issues in policymaking, but it must be a priority if the country hopes to address global hunger and malnutrition.
 
"It is not a secondary factor," Glickman said before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
 
Senator Dick Lugar, the Republican leader of the committee, supported appointing a White House food coordinator to take on raising agriculture and food aid's prominence.
    
This "food czar" would be tasked with coordinating efforts between the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other agencies involved in food aid and agriculture production.
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The need for a food czar doesn't seem as far stretched when considering recent events that have nudged agriculture over into the realm of a national security issue.
    
Soaring food prices last year sparked food riots and led to political instability in some parts of the world. The threat of violence and coups continues as the recession makes it increasingly difficult for even more people to buy food.
    
A food czar could possibly mitigate future riots by improving the United States' role in making other nations self-sufficient in agricultural production, an area some say the country has failed in. 
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In fact, U.S. efforts to address the long-term challenge of persistant malnutrition earn an 'F,' according to political science professor and author Robert Paarlberg.
 
He said U.S. agriculture assistance to Africa has plummeted 85 percent since the 1980s. "So as things have been getting steadily worse in Africa, the United States goverment has curiously been doing steadily less," Paarlberg said.
 
A food czar, Lugar said, would have the difficult job of addressing this conundrum.

Photo Credit: Reuters/Luc Gnago (Farmers in Cote d'Ivoire work on a rice field); Reuters/Alberto Lowe (Riot police clash with Panamanians over food prices in Panama City); Reuters/Margaret Aguirre (A child in Ethiopia is severely malnourished due to widespread starvation brought on by drought and soaring food prices)

from Africa News blog:

Should developing world have more say in crisis talks?

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When world leaders meet in Washington to tackle the global financial crisis, Africa will be represented only by South Africa.

 

African officials meeting in Tunis this week to discuss the impact of the crisis argued that the continent needed better representation, given the effects that the turmoil is having in Africa as well as the continent’s growing financial importance. The complaint could apply equally to other developing countries.

from Environment Forum:

Connecting Green Dots in Capetown South Africa

 Kenyan blogger Juliana Rotich is the editor of Green Global Voices, which monitors citizen media in the developing world, and is a regular contributor to this page. ThomsonReuters is not responsible for the content - the views are the author's alone.

                                                                                                                                                 Clouds, driven by seasonal south easterly winds, billow over Table Mountain in cape Town, December 6, 2003. The city’s landmark backdrop draws droves of tourists keen to bask in the warm southern hemisphere summer and take in the scenic views. NO RIGHTS CLEARANCES OR PERMISSIONS ARE REQUIRED FOR THIS IMAGE REUTERS/Mike Hutchings MH/SN On October 11th 2008, Global Voices Environment, Carbon Smart and Urban Sprout organized a meetup for environment bloggers in Capetown South Africa. What follows is a rundown of what was discussed.

from MacroScope:

ActionAid: Bailout the hungry, please

With the U.S. approving a $700 billion Wall Street bailout and the UK offering up £88 billion to bolster its banks, you can be forgiven for forgetting about that pesky food crisis in the developing world that dominated the news a few months back.

But the issue is still very much alive in the corridors of the World Bank, which released on Saturday a report entitled Rising Food and Fuel Prices: addressing the risks to future generations .

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