Isobel Coleman

Democracy in Development

Coleman maps the intersections between political reform, economic growth, and U.S. policy in the developing world.

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Missing Pieces: Kim’s Vision, Zimbabwe’s Farmers, and More

by Isobel Coleman
July 27, 2012

Jim Yong Kim, the new President of the World Bank Group, speaks to the press as he arrives for his first day on the job at the World Bank Headquarters in Washington, DC, July 2, 2012 (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters).


In this edition of Missing Pieces, Charles Landow covers topics ranging from global health to emerging market growth, with stops in Zimbabwe and Latin America. Enjoy!
  • Kim’s Vision: In a speech and interview this week, World Bank president Jim Yong Kim made clear that he sees deep connections between poverty and health. First, in remarks at the International AIDS Conference, Kim called for using the lessons of the AIDS movement to combat poverty, including through partnerships, openness and transparency, and “applying AIDS knowledge and resources” to broader challenges like health insurance and human capital. In an interview with the Guardian, Kim said that his past work with Partners for Health “was really always about poverty.” As he put it, “we’ve always believed that investing in health means investing in the wellbeing and development of that entire community.” CFR’s Laurie Garrett offers a sobering take on the fight against AIDS in a interview.
  • Zimbabwe’s Farmers: Zimbabwe, once a breadbasket, is widely considered a basket case. The country’s land reform, in which white-owned farms were forcibly redistributed to blacks, devastated growth and agricultural output in the late 2000s. Hyperinflation forced Harare to print Z$100 trillion notes. But a New York Times article suggests that land reform has benefited black Zimbabweans considerably. Although “the takeover of white commercial farms was a disaster for Zimbabwe on many levels,” the piece says, it did enable tens of thousands of black farmers to acquire small pieces of land. They are now growing such crops as tobacco with considerable success. “The result has been a broad, if painful, shift of wealth in agriculture.” A Q&A with Times reporter Lydia Polgreen offers further analysis.
  • Emerging Questions: Following last week’s IMF World Economic Outlook, which forecast “weaker growth” than previously projected in both the developed and developing worlds, the Economist examines the slowdown in major emerging markets. After a decade-long BRICs-led boom, the article says, “something is amiss.” The piece argues that factors such as buoyant commodity prices and robust credit growth “lulled emerging economies into thinking they could grow faster than they really can.” The situation is not dire. Many countries have ample resources to avoid a crisis should foreign investment flee. China and India, at least, look set to maintain solid growth. Still, emerging markets’ “dream decade” appears over.
  • Looks at Latin America: Three articles explore economics and politics in Latin America. First, two MarketWatch pieces (here and here) tout Colombia and Peru as the region’s “New Tigers.” The countries are enjoying booms driven by mining (in Peru) and oil (in Colombia), as well as manufacturing and other sectors. Young populations are attractive to investors. They remain vulnerable to a drop in commodity demand, though, and poverty and unemployment persist. On the political side, a Washington Post article examines “Latin America’s new authoritarians,” those who take power through elections before eviscerating democratic systems. Chief among them, according to the piece, is Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, followed by leaders in such countries as Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Panama. These “charismatic populists,” the article says, “are posing the most serious challenge to democratic institutions in Latin America since the 1980s.”

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