Global price chaos – is another food crisis on the way?

November 15, 2010

How can the global system manage scarcity?

November 15, 2010

World diets; moslem tigers; British aid policy; untranslatable words; good and bad biofuels; fractals and finance; shooting poverty: links I liked

November 15, 2010
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How many people can the world support? Depends on their diet, says Lester Brown

Dani Rodrik discusses why, when it comes to human development, the top ten performers are not dominated by the East Asian tigers, but my majority moslem countries, and not all of them big oil exporters.

The Guardian’s Madeline Bunting thinks British aid policy makes no sense

Iktsuarpok (Inuit) – “To go outside to check if anyone is coming.” 20 wonderfully untranslatable words from around the world [h/t Chris Blattman]

The Economist reckons a new generation of biofuels may finally be on its way, but not the cellulosic ones everyone was expecting  – instead ‘drop in’ hydrocarbons made from sugar could replace ethanol.

More on biofuels: ‘Plans to make European motorists use more biofuels could take an area the size of Ireland out of food production by 2020 and accelerate climate change’fractals

Alejandro Nadal celebrates Benoit Mandelbrot’s work on fractals in financial markets, and why it means they need to be regulated

Washington Consensus R.I.P part 237: Ilene Grabel celebrates the return of capital controls in developing countries

And a film competition linked to the international campaign for an arms trade treaty – here are the shortlisted contenders – vote for your favourite. Here’s the current front runner:

Bang For Your Buck from ShootingPoverty on Vimeo.



  1. Thank you for directing me to Madeline Bunting’s thoughtful piece in The Guardian about the dangerous contradictions she sees in UK aid policy—an article cogently summarized by her subheading, “Seeking quick wins in development sends civil servants chasing fictional figures while long-term poverty reduction suffers.” But, even granting the unreasonableness of the new government’s demand that the Department for International Development must show overnight successes, fairness to DFID Secretary Andrew Mitchell enjoins modesty about the development community’s record in “long-term poverty reduction.”

    We in the development community need to do a better job of achieving the latter goal—on shrinking budgets, unfortunately—in light of underwhelming public approval of what aid does. For example, Bunting cites a survey by the Institute of Development Studies showing that fifty-three percent of UK citizens believe “most UK aid is wasted.” (I write from the United States where, I promise you, equal or greater suspicion of aid flourishes.) No doubt the truth about UK—and USA—aid is less grim, but public perceptions matter in democracies. When (or if?) flush economic times return, the development community will want a happier image.

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