Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

The Esperanto currency

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Hiroshi Watanabe, president of the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, saw his share of dollar buying intervention during decades at the nation’s finance ministry.  But the market veteran says despite prevalent talk recently, a shift away from the greenback as the world’s reserve currency may be great in theory, but like the language of Esperanto short on daily practitioners.

“Esperanto is a very good language, but no community uses it in its daily life, ” Watanabe told the Reuters Japan Investment Summit.

“That’s the same situation that applies to the currency… I don’t see any other currency that can take the position to replace the key U.S. dollar.”

China, Russia and Brazil intend to push at this week’s Group of Eight summit for a new global reserve currency as an alternative to the dollar.

from Shop Talk:

Food shortage + financial crisis = bleak outlook

The global economic meltdown has the World Bank on high alert.
 
As the financial crisis deepens, the World Bank is issuing even bleaker warnings about rising poverty and hunger in the developing world.  Initially, it estimated that 46 million people in developing countries could be pushed into poverty.  Now, that level is up another 7 million.

FOOD-WORLDBANK/"We estimate that about 130 million people were pushed into poverty from the food crisis and if you add the financial crisis on top of that we are estimating that about 53 million more people could be pushed into poverty as a result of the financial crisis," World Bank Managing Director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told the Reuters Food and Agriculture Summit
 
NEPAL/Children and women are being hardest hit, she said.  The World Bank estimated that the current financial downturn may add between 200,000 and 400,000 additional infant deaths per year on average in the 2009 to 2015 period.  That means a total of 1.4 million to 2.8 million more infant deaths, if the financial strain continues. 
 
"The one big piece we need to look at in this financial crisis and its translation into the food crisis is that we're talking about human beings," said Okonjo-Iweala.  "Remember that 923 million people are malnourished the world over.  When you talk about the financial crisis becoming an unemployment crisis in the developed world, in the developing world for many poor people it's not an issue of unemployment, it's an issue of life and death."
 
(Reuters photos of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Jan. 2009/Girls waiting for drinking water in Kathmandu, March 2009)

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