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Month: October 2011

Up and Out: Income Inequality and Political Polarization in the U.S.

Up and Out: Income Inequality and Political Polarization in the U.S.

This graph is very interesting.  It tracks the degree of political polarization over time and plots it against the Gini coefficient, which is a measure of income inequality in a country.  Develop Economies frequently references the Gini coefficient when discussing repressive kleptocratic regimes in Africa like Equatorial Guinea.  Only recently, however, has he begun examining poverty in the United States.  And he is not alone – even the hippies have managed to put down their bongs long enough to protest…

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Why DIY Foreign Aid Amateurs are Necessary

Why DIY Foreign Aid Amateurs are Necessary

This is part two of a two-part post about amateurs vs. professional in aid and development. In my experience, development professionals tend to be a jaded and cynical bunch, but also eternally optimistic, well-meaning, and principled.  In one post, a blogger who writes “Good Intentions are Not Enough” (another blog I read and respect) explains what it means to be an “aid professional.”  Here are a few: First and foremost – Do No Harm – whether what we do is…

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Advice to the Amateurs: Ignore the Professionals

Advice to the Amateurs: Ignore the Professionals

This is part one of a two-part post about the role of amateurs and professionals in aid and development. The other day, Develop Economies was asked to move to a different table at the iHub because a European government aid agency would be holding a workshop on gender equality.  Grudgingly, he moved.  They spent the next few hours coming up with ideas on how to “engage the private sector” to develop programs that would empower women to increase their incomes while turning…

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The Obama Doctrine and Smart Power, Pt. 2

The Obama Doctrine and Smart Power, Pt. 2

This is part two of a two-part post about the Obama administration’s approach to foreign policy and military intervention in Africa and the Middle East. The other day I discussed the first four points of Obama’s approach to military intervention – be effective, follow international law, put no American troops on the ground, and multilateralism.  Today I will talk about the last one: having a clearly-defined goal. This is the most important tenet of all.  In Iraq, the U.S. overthrew…

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The Obama Doctrine and Smart Power, Pt. 1

The Obama Doctrine and Smart Power, Pt. 1

This is part one of a two-part post about the Obama administration’s approach to foreign policy and military intervention in Africa and the Middle East. In an article titled “Inside Obama’s War Room” published in Rolling Stone this month, Michael Hasting discusses the series of decisions and actions that preceded the intervention in Libya.  In classic form, Obama appears to have been measured, deliberative, and exhaustive with respect to planning for the next steps, asking key questions that were absent…

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The Tea Party and American Foreign Policy

The Tea Party and American Foreign Policy

The Pew Research Center just released a report detailing the foreign policy views of democrats, republicans, and tea partiers.  Much of it is what you would expect.  For tea partiers the U.S. needs to be strong on defense and Israel, tough on China, say no to illegal immigration (94% support the Arizona immigration law!).  Non-tea party republicans share similar views, though tempered a bit on most issues.  For democrats, it is a relatively simple equation: one minus the percentage of…

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Africa Rising: Venture Capital on the Continent

Africa Rising: Venture Capital on the Continent

This is a guest post from Ben Lyon, co-founder and VP of business development of Kopo-Kopo, a Nairobi-based software company enabling enterprises to accept mobile payments. A scan of tech investor blogs reveals two conflicting sentiments: 1) when the bubble bursts, the industry will come to a grinding halt, and 2) valuations are skyrocketing because of what Mark Suster calls FOMO (fear of missing out).  They also reveal that an abundance of capital is chasing a scarcity of good ideas, which…

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