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Category Archives: Trade

The Great Manhattan Africa Luxury Coffee Tour

Welcome to Manhattan, tourists! Today’s tour will accomplish three things: (1) you will find great coffee places, (2) you will find great coffees from Africa, and (3) you will end poverty in Africa. OK, both coffee people and aid people tend to exaggerate, so don’t take (3) literally, unless you are from the Earth Institute.

What better place to begin Manhattan coffee mania than at Stumptown Coffee Shop? This place takes African coffee so seriously,…

Also posted in Field notes, Maps | Tagged , | 24 Comments

Toppling Qaddafi

Who was that madman ranting about his hallucinations on Libyan TV, desperately in need of an anger management intervention? Oops, that’s the ruler of the country. He has gotten even more ridiculously scary since our last post.

A small group of young people who have taken drugs have attacked police station like mice … However there is a small group of sick people that has infiltrated in cities that are circulating drugs and money.

This

Also posted in Democracy and freedom, In the news | Tagged , | 23 Comments

African export success: finding the needle when you’re not sure which haystack

Export success in Africa is a matter of finding a rare Big Hit, with the added complication that it won’t stay a hit, and that in a few years you will need a new Big Hit.

This from a new NBER working paper by Ariell Reshef (U. Va.) and myself. We also tell some stories of the individual successes, some of which involve the local government.

The news is not that Africa is…

Also posted in Academic research | 5 Comments

The transparent US government to development advocates: drop dead

Robert Strauss, a Madagascar-based consultant, filed a Freedom of Information Act request last March to find out more about the US government decision to remove Madagascar from its list of countries eligible to receive trade preferences  under AGOA. This is a decision we have blogged about many times, since it has cost thousands of Malagasy textile workers their jobs, without having any discernible effect on the leaders responsible for the 2009 coup…

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Development: Say it with flowers

Cut flower exports get a lot of development buzz. I’ll make this into a bleg for anybody who can contribute some systematic knowledge on this.

Of course, I first did my own exhaustive research on this, in the form of a 10-minute chance conversation with a flower importer for a major chic retailer in New York. The flowers shown from South Africa and Ecuador surprised me. I didn’t know Ecuador had cut into the famous…

Tagged , | 15 Comments

The Millennium Development Goal that really does work has been forgotten

UPDATE 12 noon: this  is a dueling oped with Sachs on ft.com, debate has moved on and even some agreement (see end of post) from a column in the on-line Financial Times today ; for ungated access and a picture of the handsome author go here.

The Millennium Development Goals tragically misused the world’s goodwill to support failed official aid approaches to global poverty and gave virtually no support to proven approaches. Economists such as…

Also posted in Aid debates, Aid policies and approaches, In the news | Tagged , , , | 17 Comments

Be careful what you export

Our distant ancestors had a biological constitution awfully similar to our own, and, like us, only 24 hours in a day. Arguably the main reason we have so much better lives than them is that we have better ways of doing things (broadly conceived). So it makes a great deal of sense that much of the work in development planning and foreign aid consists in exporting ways of doing things. Technology and scientific know-how are…

Also posted in Big ideas, Grand plans and aid targets | 13 Comments

Help the world’s poor: Buy some new clothes

This is a guest post written by Benjamin Powell, an assistant professor of Economics at Suffolk University and a Senior Economist with the Beacon Hill Institute.  He is the editor of Making Poor Nations Rich, and is currently writing a book entitled No Sweat: How Sweatshops Improve Lives and Economic Growth.

Back to school shopping leads many people to buy apparel that was made in sweatshops. Rather than feel guilty for “exploiting”…

Also posted in Academic research | 26 Comments

African Export Success: Shooting Fowl while riding an Antelope

Contrary to the image of African countries as static mono-exporters, it is unpredictable from one period to the next which will be the top exports in each country.

Consider this picture of Tanzania’s top exports in 1998 and 2007.

This is pattern of rapidly changing success is the norm across African countries. If you take the top 100 exports in each country in 1998 (or the first year in which data is available), its…

Also posted in Academic research | Tagged , | 10 Comments

US food aid policies create 561 jobs in Kansas, risk millions of lives around the world

I read recently the First Law of Policy Economics: Every inefficiency is someone’s income.

US food aid policy is definitely no exception, and it is riddled with inefficiencies.

Exhibit A: This invitation from a coalition of big US shipping interests to an event in Washington today. At this event, USA Maritime will have tried to convince lawmakers and their staff that ancient and outdated US food aid legislation, which requires virtually all US food aid…

Also posted in Aid policies and approaches, Disaster relief, Political economy | Tagged , , , , | 18 Comments