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Category: Development Economics

Corruption in a Trump Presidency

Corruption in a Trump Presidency

In December 2009, I moved to Philippines just before the presidential election.  Like most of the former leaders of the Philippines, the outgoing president, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, was exiting under a cloud of scandal.  The candidates pledged to end the corruption that plagued the country, promising to jail Arroyo and clean up the government.    The leading candidate was a man named Manny Villar.  I remember him for two reasons.  First, he had possibly the smarmiest campaign ad I’d ever…

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Racism in America

Racism in America

I. Introduction In August of 2014, a police officer shot dead Michael Brown, a black teenager from Ferguson, Missouri, blowing the lid off a debate about racism in America. Protesters filled the streets, yelling “Hands up, don’t shoot.” The hashtag “#blacklivesmatter” began trending on Twitter. A few weeks before, bystanders filmed a police officer in Staten Island choking to death Eric Garner, an African-American man who’d been arrested for selling untaxed cigarettes. When the grand jury chose not to bring…

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Why Do Some Countries Have It So Bad?

Why Do Some Countries Have It So Bad?

Open a newspaper today and you’ll be bombarded with a panoply of terrible news. Ebola is ravaging West Africa, with a projected 10,000 new cases per week and the possibility for 1.4 million people infected in Sierra Leone and Liberia alone. Two decades ago, those same countries were embroiled in one of the most horrific civil wars in modern history. A few thousand miles away, a possible genocide in the Central African Republic has been unfolding – largely unnoticed –…

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Free Trade is Good for Global Development

Free Trade is Good for Global Development

This is the fourth in a series of six posts about the trouble in America today and policy solutions going forward.  The first post is about income inequality, the second introduces the basis for my policy recommendations, and the third presents economic policies.  In this post, I will address policies related to international trade. I know less about the specifics of free trade agreements, and, admittedly, they are one of the most contentious economic policies that exist.  I find myself on the side in favor of free trade…

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How to Get America Back on Track

How to Get America Back on Track

Introduction In my last post, I discussed the unfortunate state of affairs in the United States today. From a pre-industrial agrarian economy controlled by wealthy landowners, to an era of industrialization marked by the creation of a middle class and a period of prosperity, and ultimately a post-industrial phase where the middle is systematically being hollowed out and the extremes once again dominate the landscape, the United States finds itself at a crossroads. The country can ignore the state of…

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The Convergence: America’s Long Arc of Development

The Convergence: America’s Long Arc of Development

The following is a four-part post about the phases of the economic development of nations – pre-industrial, industrial, post-industrial – and a discussion of the current state of affairs in the United States and the world. Part I: How Countries Develop For all of their differences, countries, and even civilizations, follow a similar path in their development. The timeline and specifics vary from nation to nation, but the general formula remains constant. On a high level, poor countries become rich…

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The Sad Aftermath of the Nairobi Attack

The Sad Aftermath of the Nairobi Attack

Last month, terrorists from the group al Shabaab attacked the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, killing 67 people. In the wake of the devastating event, Kenyans rallied together in a showing of national unity often missing in this deeply divided country. Outside Kenya, the world expressed its sympathy and offered support to the country. And over the last month, under the bright spotlight of media, the government has manage to squander that good will so spectacularly that it calls into question…

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The Hult Prize: Food Security in Urban Slums

The Hult Prize: Food Security in Urban Slums

A few weeks ago, I competed in a social enterprise business plan competition called the Hult Prize.  The competition is ambitious in scale and scope, giving a broad mandate to competitors and rewarding the best ideas with the chance to win $1 million in seed funding.  This year’s challenge was developing a solution to the problem of urban hunger by 2018. The catch is that the business needs to be scalable and financially sustainable.  The product or service needs to be…

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Technology Sea Changes: Re:Char and Kiva Zip

Technology Sea Changes: Re:Char and Kiva Zip

Product design is all the rage in poverty alleviation, and has been for the past few years.  By applying the principles of lean manufacturing and waste minimization to the challenge of designing products for people living on less than a dollar a day, we can now create stripped-down products at a fraction of the cost.  But product design is only one small component of the process.  The two other challenges in bringing these products to market – financing and distribution…

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The Promise of Social Impact Bonds

The Promise of Social Impact Bonds

Over the past few weeks, social impact bonds have received a lot of attention.  That is because New York City has partnered with Goldman Sachs to run a pilot program aimed at reducing recidivism among inmates at Rikers Island prison.  But first, a little background on social impact bonds. There are many social problems for which there is no clear-cut solution.  Homelessness, foster care, inmate recidivism, and other issues are often expensive to control.  Programs designed to address them are…

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