Global Ideas News Brief: Doha deal + Banking on the world's poorest

Global Ideas News Brief: Doha deal + Banking on the world's poorest

An entrepreneur makes a child swing in Afghanistan. The promise of prosperity and economics may overshadow military force as the future key to foreign policy. Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps

Trade and economic development

W.T.O. Reaches First Global Trade Deal
NYT
The World Trade Organization reached its first trade reform deal on Saturday to a roar of approval from nearly 160 ministers on the Indonesian island of Bali who had decided on the agreement, which could add $1 trillion to the global economy.

The World Trade Organisation: Doha delivers
The Economist
At the heart of the deal is an agreement on “trade facilitation”, or measures to reduce trade costs by cutting red tape in customs procedures. Trade facilitation could cut global trade costs by more than 10%, by one estimate, raising annual global output by over $400 billion, with benefits flowing disproportionately to developing economies.

How to End Global Income Inequality
Bloomberg Business Week
Giving money directly to the world’s poorest isn’t a panacea—it won’t guarantee faster economic growth in the countries where they live, or fix the quality of public services. But you could approximately double the incomes of those living on less than $1.25 a day worldwide by transferring to them one-third of the consumption growth enjoyed by the world’s richest 1 percent since 1990.

Why Economics, Not Military Might, Is the Future of Foreign Policy
The Atlantic
From Kiev to Kabul, the promise of prosperity is winning hearts and minds.


Financial inclusion

Big banks see rich opportunities in world's poorest
Reuters
When the Afghan government used mobile phones instead of cash to pay some of its policemen, the officers thought they'd just had a 30 percent pay rise. In truth, they had just been paid the full amount, with nothing skimmed off by middlemen, for the first time.

Mobile Payments Gain Traction Among India’s Poor
NYT
In a narrow room filled with acrid fumes in one of the world’s largest slums, Chinak Ramtheol earns about $4 a day tending machines that melt and slice plastic trash into pellets for recycling.

Currency unions in Africa: Ever closer
The Economist
THE euro crisis has put most people off currency unions. But not in Africa, it seems.


Climate

A Rare Middle East Agreement, on Water
NYT
In a rare display of regional cooperation, representatives of Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority signed an agreement on Monday to build a Red Sea-Dead Sea water project that is meant to benefit all three parties.

UN predicts near doubling of city dwellers by 2050
Washington Post
The number of city dwellers is at an all-time high of about 3.5 billion and will nearly double in the next 30 to 40 years, with almost all the growth in developing countries, the head of the U.N. agency focusing on cities said Monday.


Improving aid

Changing foreign aid: can more groups 'buy local'?
Christian Science Monitor
Governments from Myanmar to Zambia are pushing for international aid organizations to work with local companies as they pour in billions in aid and investment.

Can Foreign Aid Help This Girl?
NYT, Kristoff
Aid’s impact on economic growth is complicated. But there is reason to think that as people become educated and better nourished they will become more productive and demand better economic governance, laying the foundation for improved growth rates. If Haiti is Exhibit A for aid skeptics, it’s worth noting that Haiti may be on the move again.


Impact investing and social enterprise

Filling Out the Middle
Stanford Social Innovation Review
The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs targets a "missing" segment in emerging economies.

Social Innovation From the Inside Out
Stanford Social Innovation Review
What enables a social purpose organization to excel at developing new ideas and practices? In many cases, the answer lies not in how people connect with the external social landscape, but in how they connect with each other.

Politics and economics

Understanding Syria: From Pre-Civil War to Post-Assad
The Atlantic
How drought, foreign meddling, and long-festering religious tensions created the tragically splintered Syria we know today.

Mandela’s Socialist Failure
South Africa is just one version of a recurrent story: A leader or party is elected with universal enthusiasm, promising a “new world” — but, then, sooner or later, they stumble upon the key dilemma: dare to touch the capitalist mechanisms, or “play the game”? If one disturbs these mechanisms, one is very swiftly “punished” by market perturbations, economic chaos, and the rest.


Aid

Stopping Bloodshed in the Central African Republic Amid Ghosts of Genocide
NYT
What vexes the United Nations now is how to prevent another catastrophe in the battered Central African Republic — and in turn how to shield itself from future reproach. That reckoning comes as Western militaries are tied up on other battlefields, and crises elsewhere have made new demands on United Nations peacekeepers and the rich countries that finance them.

Interest

Justin Bieber Stirs a Fever On Visit to Philippine Typhoon Victims
International pop music superstar Justin Bieber created a stir on social media Tuesday after arriving in the Philippines to help raise money for victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

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