An end to modern medicine?

Martin Khor

Last week the head of the World Health Organisation sounded a large alarm bell on how antibiotics may in future not work anymore, due to resistance of bacteria to the medicines.

Antibiotic resistance has been a growing problem for some time now. From time to time, there will be news reports of the outbreak of diseases, old and new, that cannot be treated because the bacteria have grown more powerful than the antibiotics used against them.

And experts have been warning about how the wrong use of antibiotics has given the bacteria the opportunity to develop resistance, enabling them to become immune to the medicines.

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Minding the Gap: A conversation about economic inequality

Arjun Jayadev

On March 13th, I spoke on a panel at MIT with David Autor, Peter Diamond and Frank Levy (all from MIT) on inequality in the U.S.

The two hour discussion on inequality went over a broad range of issues:  the alarming rise in inequality,  the nature of the ‘religion of meritocracy’ that underpins the  notion of the American dream, the role of childhood and early education in reducing inequality and the implications of inequality for distorting the way political decisions are made.

The facts about inequality are better known, due to the rise of the occupy movement as well as more careful work documenting the rise of top-income inequality. In 1980, the top 1 percent of U.S. households earned about 10 percent of the nation’s income; today that top percentile receives about 25 percent of income. The top 10 percent of households accounted for a bit more than 30 percent of income from World War II until about 1980, but now receives 50 percent of all income.

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How to discredit a financial regulator: the strange case of Iceland

Robert Wade and Silla Sigurgeirsdóttir, guest bloggers

Firms subject to a regulator generally use one of three tactics to render the regulator ineffective: emasculate, capture or discredit it – or some of all three. Iceland’s financial regulatory agency, the FME (with similar functions as the UK’s Financial Services Authority), has experienced all these tactics since its creation in 1998. A sustained campaign has recently been waged to discredit the CEO appointed in the wake of Iceland’s Great Crash in October 2008, culminating in his firing at the beginning of March 2012. His case illustrates wider issues in the relations between regulators and powerful interest groups subject to their regulation and supervision, in Iceland and beyond.

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The oil price conundrum

C. P. Chandrasekhar

All eyes are on the world’s oil market, with prices threatening once again to find a new high. The immediate cause for increased attention is a spike in oil prices since the beginning of the year.  With that 20 per cent rise taking Brent crude to $128 a barrel in early March 2012, there are fears that the price of oil may soon touch the peak $140-a-barrel it had reached in July 2008. The IMF’s Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, has declared that rising oil prices were now a bigger global worry than the debt crisis in Europe. Ali Naimi, Saudi Arabia’s oil minister also stoked fears rather than assuaging them when he said that Saudi Arabia was willing to ramp up its production to the tune of 25 per cent to bring down the “unjustified”, high price of oil.

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Why José Antonio Ocampo Should Be the Next World Bank President

Edward B. Barbier

José Antonio Ocampo, Professor at the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University, has just been officially put forward by the Dominican Republic and Brazil as a candidate for the Presidency of the World Bank.

Two of my fellow Triple Crisis bloggers, Kevin Gallagher and Stephany Griffith-Jones have endorsed Professor Ocampo’s candidacy for World Bank President, citing his many diplomatic and scholarly credentials.  I would like to second their “Triple Crisis” nominations, and also endorse his candidacy.

Although I have been familiar with Professor Ocampo’s contributions to policy and economics research for years, and both of us have participated in Professor Joe Stiglitz’s Initiative for Policy Dialogue at Columbia University, I did not have the pleasure of meeting Professor Ocampo until earlier this month, when we both were speakers at the Mount Holyoke Conference “Development in Crisis: Changing the Rules in a Global World”.

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Why Ocampo – not Kim – should be next World Bank president

Kevin P. Gallagher

Emerging countries have gone on the offensive to put an end to the “wink-wink” succession rule whereby Europeans get to choose who heads the International Monetary Fund and the US picks the president of the World Bank.

On Friday, developing countries are expected to nominate at least two candidates – Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Nigerian finance minister, and José Antonio Ocampo, former finance minister of Colombia. If the decision is finally based on merit, as it should be, Ocampo will win: he is far and away better than any on the list of credible names, including President Barack Obama’s nominee, Jim Yong Kim.

Ocampo has the utmost credibility as a policy-maker and diplomat; he works well with the US and developing countries alike; and he is one of the leading academic economists in the field of development.

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Can Americans Trust Government Again?

Jeff Madrick

Contrary to what we hear from Republicans, America did not lose its way in the past few years. It lost its way a generation ago when it abandoned its faith in government.

Conventional wisdom has it that come November the 2012 presidential election will be determined by the state of the economy. Actually, the real battle will be over a much older fundamental ideological issue in American politics: what role government should play in shaping our future. This special issue of The Nation is dedicated to bringing the debate about government front and center as the presidential race heats up.

Anti-government ideologues are on a tear, passionately advocating austerity and smaller government as the cure for the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Apparently following the dictum that you should never let a crisis go to waste, they are spinning the recession to promote their pet causes, such as destroying “Obamacare” and weakening public sector unions. As a result, the stakes this November are higher than in any election since Ronald Reagan unseated Jimmy Carter in 1980.

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What makes Jose Antonio Ocampo a good candidate for President of the World Bank

Stephany Griffith-Jones

It is excellent news that developing countries are putting forward such outstanding candidates for the Presidency of the World Bank. I have been lucky to have worked closely with one of the two candidates, Jose Antonio Ocampo. He would be an excellent choice for many reasons.

Jose Antonio provides the rare combination of an experienced and successful policy-maker at the highest level (he was Minister of three portfolios in Colombia, including Finance, but also Agriculture and Planning), an outstanding international civil servant again at the highest level (including as Under Secretary General at the United Nations, as well as well as Head of the UN Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean), and a leading academic researcher in key issues relating to development and macro-economic policy.

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