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The Strategic Value of Burma

The Strategic Value of Burma

Myanmar’s state newspapers ran commentary warning Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the opposition democracy movement, that her continued political activity is unlawful and that her plan to tour the country could provoke chaos. The last time she toured the countryside her motorcade was attacked by a mob, apparently aligned with the government. Miss Suu Kyi was blamed for that incident. This quote comes from the “World this Week” section of the Economist from July 2nd, 2011, a little…

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The Development Matrix: Wake Up

The Development Matrix: Wake Up

Two World Bank economists scientifically prove that first-world countries pay more than third-world countries: Ask most people to name the most effective means of raising incomes of people in poor countries, and what would they say? Microfinance? Perhaps not after the recent experimental assessments. Deworming? It increased primary school participation and improved health, but in the short-term at least seems unlikely to raise household income. Conditional cash transfers? This might be a popular answer, with evidence from a number of countries that they…

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Do Elections Improve Economic Policy? Democracy in Burma

Do Elections Improve Economic Policy? Democracy in Burma

Today, the people of Myanmar for the first time in twenty years will elect a new government.  Actually, they will simply participate in a rigged election process that will legitimize the repressive military regime that has controlled the country by force for the past half-century.  Under pressure from the West and perhaps craving a bizarro sense of legitimacy, the military is holding elections for the first time in twenty years, yet it has effectively guaranteed that the country will remain…

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Golfing in Burma’s New Capitol

Golfing in Burma’s New Capitol

Burma is a strange country.  It feels like the clock stopped in the 1950’s, and most forward progress along with it.  In the capitol city of Rangoon, everything is old – the cars, the buildings, the infrastructure, the money.  And this is the capitol, where most of the wealth in the country is concentrated.  Very little has been invested in modernization, mostly because it is tightly controlled by an authoritarian military junta that keeps the country isolated from the rest…

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