When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

TOPIC: world bank


Can Macron's "Creative" Diplomacy Fix The Rift Between The West And Global South?

French President Emmanuel Macron has called a unique summit that aims to reset relations between Western countries and the Global South. But the message from China and Russia will be not to trust such diplomatic maneuverings.


PARIS“France has creative diplomacy.”

The admiration came from a European leader after last month's political community summit in Moldova that included Ukraine and a wide range of European countries — a gathering first proposed by Emmanuel Macron.

A different kind of summit is opening Thursday in Paris, bringing together 50 heads of state and government to form a new global financial pact. Some heavyweights present include Chinese Premier Li Qiang and Brazilian President Lula.

Readers who are not particularly impressed with this latest act of French diplomacy will be forgiven. To quote General Charles de Gaulle when he was criticizing the United Nations, "What are these 'things' for?"

The results of such high-level diplomatic events are not always glorious, or even entirely effective. The Paris Climate Agreement is one such example, but there are several others where words and displays of support have not been followed by any significant effects. And the current state of the world is not conducive to optimism.

But the stakes of each diplomatic event, given the current state of the world, are considerable. And rather than being ignored, they should be examined with the care with which one would treat someone seriously ill.

Watch VideoShow less

Why Oil-Rich Algeria Can't Extract Itself From Dire Poverty

Algeria faces a real risk or going bankrupt by 2029. How did it come to this, in one of the world's leading hydrocarbon producers?


ALGIERS — Algeria's enormous natural-resource wealth is no longer enough to mask the economic reality of the country, which lags far behind its French-speaking Maghreb neighbors, and is likely to experience serious difficulties around 2028.

For the first time since its independence in 1962, Algeria posted the lowest GDP per capita of the three Maghreb countries in 2021, before it was inflated by an exceptional — and brief — rise in hydrocarbon prices the following year.

According to World Bank data, Algeria's GDP per capita stood at $3,691 in 2021, the latest year for which statistics are available, compared with $3,807 for Tunisia and $3,795 for Morocco, which had always occupied last place among the three Maghreb countries since their independence.

By overtaking Algeria, neighboring countries Morocco and Tunisia have achieved a remarkable feat, given their limited natural resources compared with Algeria — one of the world's leading hydrocarbon producers.

Keep reading...Show less

Lula's Return And The Dream Of A BRICS Revival

The Brazilian president, back in power after more than a decade later, has not lost his vision of a post-Western world in which the BRICS would occupy a central place. Lula's visit to Beijing puts such a vision front and center on the global agenda.


PARIS — In the popular concept of the "global south," which refers to the non-Western world that expresses its distrust of the West, Brazil plays an important role. And its President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who returned to power in January, wasted no time in demonstrating this.

Lula has been in China this week at a time when the balance of power of the new century is being redefined. Brazil and China are both members of the BRICS, a club of emerging countries that also includes South Africa, India, and Russia. (Wrapping up

When the BRICS first emerged in the 2000s, during Lula's first term in office, he believed that he'd found a model for an alternative world. However, the club did not live up to its promises, partly due to China's disproportionate weight compared to its partners and its ambitions as a superpower.

Upon returning to office, Lula quickly booked his path to Beijing, after a first trip to Washington. His statements show that he has not lost his vision of a post-Western world in which the BRICS would occupy a central place.

Keep reading...Show less

In Burma, Time To Cash In On Political Reforms

YANGON — Burma is ready to boom. The Asia Development Bank estimates that per capita income in the southeast Asian country could increase sixfold by 2030. And another report predicts that the Burmese are poised for a level of economic growth far ahead of the global pace.

The evidence of this newfound prosperity in Burma, officially known as Myanmar, is on full display at this Yangon shopping mall, where it's easy to find products from Thailand or Hong Kong. Just two years ago, none of this would have been possible because foreign products were banned under the military junta.

Keep reading...Show less
Dominique Moïsi

How Obama Is Accelerating America's Decline


PARIS — Before the end of 2014, China will have become the world’s largest economy. For the first time since 1872 — when China overtook Britain — the United States will not top the list. This news amid data published last week by the International Comparison Program, a respected institution hosted by the World Bank, came as a surprise. The hierarchical shift of the world’s most powerful economies wasn’t expected to happen until 2019.

Watch VideoShow less
Evgenii Sigal

Doing Business In Russia Isn't About To Get Any Easier

MOSCOW – Earlier in June, during the last congress of the All-Russia People’s Front, a movement created by President Vladimir Putin in 2011, Putin announced that one of his primary goals was to create a new era of industrialization in Russia.

Russia's Minister of Economic Development Andrey Belousov announced in the same meeting that by the end of 2013, Russia could rise from 112th place to 50th place in the World Bank’s ranking of best country in the world to do business. Of course, his announcement was filled with qualifiers: it will be possible only if all of the planned measures meant to improve the investment environment are actually carried out.

Watch VideoShow less
Michel de Grandi

Happy Birthday BRICS! Economies Growing Fast, Political Weight Of A Newborn

NEW DELHI - Dreaming with BRICs, the study published in 2003 by Goldman Sachs that traced the rise of four emerging economies (Brazil, Russia, India and China) also marked the birth of a concept that has yet to disappoint.

Between 2004 and 2011, average growth in China was 10.8%, in India 8.3% -- to mention but the top two. Today nobody would dare challenge the economic dynamism of the emerging markets or their appetite for performance. Not only do they contribute more and more to world growth (36%), but if all stays on track, by 2020 they should represent about a third of the global GDP. That’s a huge economic weight for a group that is so heterogeneous.

Watch VideoShow less
Charles Landow

Trends 2012, The Year By Index - Freedom Falling

As he did last year, Charles Landow draws highlights from a range of democracy and development indexes for this year-end edition of Missing Pieces. The UN Human Development Index and the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Index of Democracy are not included this time because they were not published in 2012. Enjoy the reading and the holiday season.

  • Freedom in the World: In Freedom House’s 2012 report, 26 countries showed “declines” in their level of political freedom while only 12 made “gains.” As the report says, “this marks the sixth consecutive year in which countries with declines outnumbered those with improvements.” The Middle East saw the biggest strides but also serious regression. Eurasia declined, and the report sees “danger signs for new democracies,” including South Africa and Turkey. Asia, though, experienced a moderate rise in freedom. Overall, there are 87 “free” countries and 60 “partly free” countries, both equal to last year. Forty-eight countries are “not free,” an increase of one because of South Sudan’s independence. Niger, Thailand, and Tunisia joined the ranks of electoral democracies. Nicaragua dropped off.

  • Transformation: The Bertelsmann Stiftung’s Transformation Status Index gauges where developing countries stand “on the path toward democracy under the rule of law and a market economy anchored in principles of social justice.” The Czech Republic, Taiwan, Slovenia, Uruguay, and Estonia take this year’s top spots; Somalia, Myanmar, Eritrea, North Korea, and Afghanistan are at the bottom. Among the largest developing powers, Brazil finishes 18th, Turkey 20th, India 24th, South Africa 26th, Mexico 35th, Russia 60th, and China 84th.

  • Economic Freedom: After an optimistic report last year, the Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom was more downcast in 2012. The global average score dropped slightly, with 90 countries declining and 75 improving. A major factor in the overall slide is government spending, “which has led to rising levels of public debt and economic stagnation,” the index says. Rule of law scores also slipped. However, of the 75 countries making gains, “73 are considered developing or emerging.” Chile finished 7th, regaining the top-ten spot it lost in 2009. Mauritius took 8th, the highest-ever score for sub-Saharan Africa.

  • Competitiveness: The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Competitiveness Index exhibits some marked regional divides. Asia has a yawning gap between dynamic “regional champions,” such as Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan, and countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Nepal that are “lagging further and further behind.” Chile held steady as Latin America’s competitiveness leader and Panama, Brazil, Mexico, and Peru made gains. But Uruguay and Argentina took steep falls and Venezuela a smaller one. In the Middle East, Qatar and the UAE improved their competitiveness; Saudi Arabia and Israel lost ground but remain fairly highly ranked. Jordan achieved strong gains but only to 64th overall, and Egypt plummeted 13 spots to 107th. Finally, Africa continues to trail the rest of the world; its highest-ranked country, South Africa, is only 52ndin the index. Rwanda, Ghana, and Nigeria gained ground while Namibia slid.

  • Doing Business: This year’s World Bank Doing Business rankings, which gauge countries’ business climates, look back at the decade since the rankings first appeared. “Eastern Europe and Central Asia improved the most,” the report says, now trailing only “OECD high-income economies” in their business friendliness. And of the 50 most improved countries since 2005, “the largest share—a third—are in Sub-Saharan Africa.” However, that region continues to dominate the bottom ranks; 16 of the last 20 countries this year are African. Poland, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Burundi showed the biggest improvements in 2012, while Georgia made its first entry into the top 10.

  • Corruption Perceptions: As I noted on the blog this month, the results of Transparency International’s well-known index are largely unsurprising. In the Americas (which are ranked together), Canada, Barbados, and the United States are seen as the cleanest countries, with Chile and Uruguay tied for 4th. Haiti and Venezuela are last. New Zealand, Singapore, and Australia are tops in Asia and the Pacific; Bhutan scores a strong 6th. Meanwhile, Afghanistan and North Korea tie for last in the region and, with Somalia, for last overall. In the Middle East, Qatar and the UAE tie for the highest score, followed by Israel, Bahrain, and Jordan. Iraq, Libya, and Yemen are seen as most corrupt. Finally, Botswana, Cape Verde, Mauritius, Rwanda, and the Seychelles do best in sub-Saharan Africa. Somalia, Sudan, Chad, Burundi, and Zimbabwe finish last.

  • Prosperity: The Legatum Institute’s 2012 Prosperity Index, which measures a range of economic, political, and social indicators, offers some hopeful trends. Prosperity has increased in every region over the past 4 years, it says. Central Asia, Southeast Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa have made the biggest gains. Overall, Asia is home to 6 of the top 15 countries in this year’s index. Indonesia “has experienced the largest increase in prosperity, globally, since 2009, moving up 26 positions to 63rd.” This year, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Australia, and New Zealand lead the index, while the Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Chad, and Haiti come in last. The United States ranks 12th, missing the top 10 for the first time.