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Month: July 2011

Perceptions of China and the United States

Perceptions of China and the United States

A guaranteed way to bait someone into a contentious discussion in Nairobi is to ask for their opinion on the value of China’s activities in Africa and how the massive investment in infrastructure and buildings has and will contribute to the development of the continent.  Most are quick to dismiss the role of foreign aid in development, accusing the West of possessing ulterior strategic motives and exacerbating the problems by distorting the market for goods and services and propping up…

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Why is Income Inequality in the U.S at the Highest Level in 90 Years? A Brief History

Why is Income Inequality in the U.S at the Highest Level in 90 Years? A Brief History

Something strange is happening in the United States.  Parallel sets of reality exist, disconnected from one another in the discourse over issues like taxes, the tea party, and the debt ceiling.  In one reality, there is a very loud and public debate over the growing size of government and the intrusion on the lives of ordinary folks in the form of higher taxes and more restrictions.  During the debate, the GOP opposition candidate made a bald, white Ohioan nicknamed “Joe…

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There Is a Famine in East Africa Right Now

There Is a Famine in East Africa Right Now

The official definition of a famine: More than 30% of children must be suffering from acute malnutrition Two adults or four children must be dying of hunger each day for every group of 10,000 people The population must have access to far below 2,100 kilocalories of food per day This how the UN now characterizes the worst drought in Somalia in 50 years.  When the UN declares a famine in a country of 3.7 million people, that means that either…

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A Toaster in Every Kitchen: Growing Demand in Developing Nations

A Toaster in Every Kitchen: Growing Demand in Developing Nations

The chart above is a bit complicated, but remarkably interesting.  For a good explanation, read Felix Salmon.  For a below-average explanation of questionable veracity, keep reading.  This chart displays the ratio of two ratios.  The numerator is the P/E (price to earnings) ratio of all the companies on a major U.S. technology stock index, and the denominator is the p/e ratio of all the companies on a major U.S. industrial stock index.  Simply defined, a P/E ratio is the market…

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Technology Evolution and Revolution in Africa

Technology Evolution and Revolution in Africa

Chances are you have never heard of the company Huawei.  Founded in 1988, this somewhat secretive Chinese company has become the fourth largest telecoms equipment and service company in the world, just a few billion in revenue behind Nokia.   Huawei, with Chinese handset manufacturer ZTE, have prime access to China’s $59 billion 3G market that continues to grow exponentially.  But, as with other Chinese firms, Huawei’s global aspirations in the 1990’s took them to Africa to build the growing…

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The China-Africa Trade Boom

The China-Africa Trade Boom

The following is a guest post by Joseph Cox, an MA candidate at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute and managing editor of the The Inductive, a blog about U.S. economic and foreign policy. When polled, Americans always cite foreign aid as the budget item most in need of a good hatcheting, yet, there is also a deep suspicion of Chinese investment in Africa. The fact is that Chinese investment in Africa dwarfs U.S. aid.  The Chinese have over $100 billion in trade…

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Caylee’s Law and Irrational Legislation

Caylee’s Law and Irrational Legislation

Casey Anthony, the young mother accused of killing her two year-old daughter Caylee, was found not guilty of first-degree murder.  The world, it seems, is very angry that a young girl has been denied justice.  Unfortunately, the reaction will be similar to other injustices involving children or sex (in the United States): a radical, emotionally-driven push to ratchet up the penalties for a broader set of crimes and put in place irrational safeguards to ensure that such injustices never happen…

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Films about Africa: “Blood Diamond”

Films about Africa: “Blood Diamond”

I watched the film “Blood Diamond” for the first time the other day.  For those who have not seen it, the movie is graphic, placing the horror of armed conflict in Africa on full display.  The director does not seem to pull any punches in terms of violence, choosing to show child soldiers doing drugs and killing women and other children.  The main storyline, however, tracks the odyssey of Danny Archer, a white mercenary from Rhodesia played by Leonardo DiCaprio,…

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Saving as a Group

Saving as a Group

The following is a guest post by Gemma North, an associate with Saving for Change, a community finance program run by Oxfam America. ?In 2009, I worked for a microfinance institution called CREDIT in Cambodia.  On a field visit, I met a borrower who sold clothing and knick knacks to tourists visiting the nearby Angkor temple complex.  She explained that her loan had helped her to expand her business and, as a result, she was planning on taking her kids…

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