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from Global Investing:

Corruption and business potential sometimes go together

By Alice Baghdjian

Uzbekistan, Bangladesh and Vietnam found themselves cheered and chided this week.

The Corruption Perceptions Index, compiled by Berlin-based watchdog Transparency International, measured the perceived levels of public sector corruption in 176 countries and all three found their way into the bottom half of the study.

Uzbekistan shared 170th place with Turkmenistan (a higher ranking denotes higher perceived corruption levels) . Vietnam was ranked 123th, tied with countries like Sierra Leone and Belarus, while Bangladesh was 144th.

Those findings are unlikely to surprise. But consider this. All three countries are said to boast some of the best prospects for business and growth over the next two decades. That's according to the findings of a separate study released in the same week.

from Global Investing:

Easy business trend in emerging Europe

Polish central bank governor Marek Belka doesn't apportion a lot of importance to the fact that Poland can boast the second biggest improvement in the latest World Bank's ease of doing business index, after Kosovo.

"This year we have improved, but I don’t care too much about it,"  Belka said at a meeting in London today.

from Why Nations Fail:

Schooling in Egypt vs. Schooling in Uzbekistan

An Egyptian friend reacted to our blog on schooling in Uzbekistan (see here) saying that schools under Mubarak weren’t all that different.

When he was 10, five hours a day for months were spent not in the classroom, but preparing a dance show for Suzanne Mubarak’s annual visit. This was not an isolated event. There would be such a visit almost every year, and a large chunk of the school year would be spent on this. Not as bad as picking cotton, though probably contributing not that much more to useful knowledge. (For more on Suzanne, see here.)

from Why Nations Fail:

Welcome … to the world of failed nations

Failure is all around us. When you hear of failed nations, you may immediately think or Somalia or Afghanistan, where state institutions have all but completely collapsed. But failed nations are much more ubiquitous. In this globalized and integrated world of ours, there are huge differences in economic prosperity across nations. According to the latest World Bank data, income per-capita in the US, at $47,360 is about 50 times that of Sierra Leone, of 40 times that of Nepal, or about 15 times that of El Salvador or Uzbekistan. These countries have not experienced the sort of state collapse that Somalia or Afghanistan did. They have nonetheless failed in reaching anything close to the sort of prosperity that countries like the US, Switzerland or Germany have. This is a failure no less consequential than that experienced by Somalia and Afghanistan. And it is every bit as much a result of the choices that these countries — or to be more exact, their elites and leaders — have made.

This blog is devoted to understanding why nations fail and to shed light on current economic, political, and social events through the lenses of the theory we have developed in our book Why Nations Fail.

from Raw Japan:

Japan coach Okada too bubbly?

As expected, Japan booked their place in next year’s World Cup soccer finals with two games to spare, sparking wild celebrations after a 1-0 win over Uzbekistan on Saturday.

Perhaps he had celebrated too much on the flight back from Tashkent, but less than 24 hours later Japan coach Takeshi Okada was talking about reaching the World Cup semi-finals in South Africa. It is hard to imagine Spain's Vicente del Bosque or England's Fabio Capello losing much sleep.SOCCER-WORLD/

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Afghan supply routes face setbacks in Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan

U.S. efforts to improve supplies for its troops in Afghanistan just had a double setback after militants in northwest Pakistan severed the main supply route for western forces and Kyrgyzstan's president said the United States must close its military base there.

Militants blew up a bridge on the Khyber Pass, cutting the supply route to western forces in Afghanistan and underscoring the need for the United States to seek alternative supply lines. The U.S. military sends 75 percent of supplies for the Afghan war through Pakistan but has been looking at using other transit routes through Central Asia. Although Washington has been sketchy on the details of its plans, its Manas military airbase near the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek has so far provided important logistical support for its operations in Afghanistan.  During a visit to Moscow, Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev announced the closure of the base, opened after the 9/11 attacks.  Bakiyev made the announcement after securing a $2 billion loan and a further $150 million in aid from Russia.

from Global News Journal:

The Trials of the Turkish Jihadi

   "(It) is a very sensitive topic, so sensitive it can break many people's hearts, and so delicate it can destroy many Mujahideens' dreams."

    A senior Jihadi offers us an unusually frank insight into problems of recruiting dedicated and disciplined foA suicide attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul in July killed 41 people.reign fighters to battle U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan.

from Changing China:

Oxana’s battle to save her son’s life

German gymnast Oxana Chusovitina is getting ready for her fifth Olympics for a third country in August. That would be by itself unusual enough under normal circumstances.  

oxana.jpg

The fact that the 32-year-old -- who began her career for the Soviet Union before its demise and then for her native Uzbekistan before moving to Germany -- is twice the age of some of her rivals in a sport long the domain of teenagers is another feat on its own.

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