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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Showing posts for "Asia"

Guest Post: Daniel Markey on Reorienting U.S.-Pakistan Strategy

by Guest Blogger for Isobel Coleman
Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (L) during a welcome ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, July 5, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters/Jason Lee). Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (L) during a welcome ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, July 5, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters/Jason Lee).

Since 9/11, U.S. policymakers have tended to consider Pakistan in the context of the war in Afghanistan and the counterterrorism campaign against al-Qaeda. This year, however, U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan will end. In addition, the security threat posed by international terrorism is increasingly diffuse, with al-Qaeda and its affiliates seemingly less dependent on safe havens along the Af-Pak border than they were in the past. In this context, an “Af-Pak” framework for U.S. strategy is no longer wise. Read more »

Missing Pieces: China’s College Graduates, Global Growth, and More

by Isobel Coleman
Students prepare for the university entrance exam in a classroom in Hefei, Anhui Province, China, June 2, 2012 (Jianan Yu/Courtesy Reuters). Students prepare for the university entrance exam in a classroom in Hefei, Anhui Province, China, June 2, 2012 (Jianan Yu/Courtesy Reuters).
Charles Landow highlights two articles and two reports in this edition of Missing Pieces. Enjoy!
  • China’s College Graduates: Last week I noted a paper suggesting that in order to avoid the middle-income trap, China must produce highly skilled college graduates. A New York Times piece this week explores that very challenge. Through vast investments in both public and private universities, China should have some 195 million “community college and university graduates” by 2020—more than the United States (which will have 120 million), though still a far lower percentage of the population. The question is whether China can foster “the world-class creativity and innovation that modern economies require.” According to the article, some believe college enrollments have “outstripped the supply of qualified professors and instructors.” It is also unclear whether “hierarchical” Chinese firms can make the best use of the country’s talent, and whether China’s economy can produce enough satisfying jobs for its “glut of college graduates with high expectations.” Read more »

Missing Pieces: China’s Growth, Booming Cities, and More

by Isobel Coleman
A man covers himself with a coat as he cycles past a residential complex under construction, which is reflected in a puddle, in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, China, July 10, 2012 (Courtesy Reuters). A man covers himself with a coat as he cycles past a residential complex under construction, which is reflected in a puddle, in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, China, July 10, 2012 (Courtesy Reuters).
In this installment of Missing Pieces, Charles Landow highlights news from China and Rwanda as well as reports on the world’s cities and the Olympic games. Enjoy!
  • China’s Growth: As China’s second-quarter GDP growth hit a three-year low, recent days have brought a fresh round of worry about the country’s economic performance—a “China OMG moment,” as a Financial Times blog post puts it. First came a Barron’s article by Jonathan R. Laing chronicling a pile of woes: bloated state firms cozy with government officials, lackluster consumption, low productivity, “mountain ranges” of empty apartment towers, an aging population, debt and bad loans, and unhappiness over inequality and repression. “It looks like the Great China Growth Story may be falling apart,” the article says. A Newsweek piece by Minxin Pei sings a similar tune,  saying that “the era of rapid economic growth driven by investments and exports is over for China.” For true long-term prosperity, Pei argues, the country must “reject state capitalism and return to pro-market reforms,” an uncomfortable prospect for the Communist Party. Steven Rattner counters all this in a New York Times op-ed, contending that China’s “economic picture remains rosy.” Read more »

Missing Pieces: Exclusion in Nigeria, China at a Crossroads, and More

by Isobel Coleman
A scavenger works picking up trash for recycling at the Olusosun dump site in Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos, March 23, 2012 (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters). A scavenger works picking up trash for recycling at the Olusosun dump site in Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos, March 23, 2012 (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters).
In this installment of Missing Pieces, Charles Landow highlights new work on West Africa, China, and the relationship between economic and political reform. Enjoy!
  • Exclusion in Nigeria: A paper from the Brookings Institution tackles a troubling question: why have poverty and inequality increased even as Nigeria’s economy has grown? The paper blames two factors. First, manufacturing could greatly boost job creation and poverty reduction. But Nigeria has failed to support firms and entrepreneurs, leaving an anemic sector worth only 4 percent of GDP. Second is federalism. With states subsisting largely on oil revenue from Abuja, governors are not held accountable for their economic performance and social services. The paper suggests “performance and evaluation platforms” to increase accountability and various reforms for industry and agriculture. Read more »

Missing Pieces: China’s Economy, Africa’s Economy, and More

by Isobel Coleman
Newly constructed residential buildings (back) are seen next to a construction site in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, China, May 25, 2012 (Rooney Chen/Courtesy Reuters). Newly constructed residential buildings (back) are seen next to a construction site in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, China, May 25, 2012 (Rooney Chen/Courtesy Reuters).
Charles Landow highlights work on China, Africa, and global development issues in this edition of Missing Pieces. Enjoy the selection.
  • China’s Economy: This week’s Economist features a sanguine special report on China’s economy. The report “argues that China does face significant problems, but nothing it cannot handle.” While many believe exports power China’s economy, it says, the real engine is investment. And China has not overinvested. Some investments have been misguided, especially through local governments and state-owned enterprises, but the cash-rich banks and central government can handle any bad loans that result. Still, the report notes the need for daunting reforms, such as liberalizing the financial sector, boosting social spending, and scrapping the hukou system of residence permits. “The faster that China expands, the sooner it will outgrow the development model that has served it so well for so long,” the report warns. Read more »

Missing Pieces: China’s Challenges, Africa’s Mixed Picture, and More

by Isobel Coleman
An employee puts up a price tag after updating the price at a supermarket in Hefei, China, April 9, 2012 (Jianan Yu/Courtesy Reuters). An employee puts up a price tag after updating the price at a supermarket in Hefei, China, April 9, 2012 (Jianan Yu/Courtesy Reuters).
In this week’s installment of Missing Pieces, Charles Landow discusses stories on China and Africa, as well as a report on U.S. international engagement. Enjoy the reading.
  • China’s Challenges: Last week brought troubling economic news for China, with disappointing indicators on everything from import growth to retail sales to real estate investment. The Financial Times, the Guardian, MarketWatch, and Reuters have reported on the numbers. The data indicating a slowdown come in the wake of major political scandals. The Bo Xilai saga (analyzed in a recent ForeignAffairs.com piece) continues to simmer and the Chen Guangcheng case (recounted in a Washington Post article by CFR’s Jerome Cohen) has shone a harsh light on human rights. With all these headwinds, a New York Times piece says that “triumphalism” over China’s economic and political model seems “at best, premature, and perhaps seriously misguided.” In a post on Asia Unbound, CFR’s Elizabeth Economy reviews China’s exhaustive efforts to control public debate. The authorities, she concludes, “are like the little Dutch boy with his finger in the dyke.” Read more »

Missing Pieces: Banking for the Poor, Reform in China, and More

by Isobel Coleman
A customer has his money ready at a store in the sprawling Kibera slums in Kenya's capital of Nairobi, April 23, 2010 (Noor Khamis/Courtesy Reuters).

In this edition of Missing Pieces, Charles Landow highlights topics from financial services for the poor to Venezuela’s presidential race. I hope you enjoy the selection.

  • Banking for the Poor: Quality matters as much as quantity in expanding financial services to the poor, suggests a paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research. Pascaline Dupas and co-authors first offered a random sample of rural Kenyans a savings account with no opening fees and simplified procedures. More than 60 percent opened an account, but only 28 percent made at least two deposits in the following year. Surveys suggested that many feared “embezzlement, unreliable services, and transaction fees.” Working with another group of Kenyans, the researchers offered vouchers that made it easier to receive loans. Six months later, only 3 percent had started to apply. According to surveys, recipients feared losing their collateral if they could not repay their loan. Clearly, financial services must be appealing and trustworthy—not simply available—if low-income people are to use them. Read more »

Missing Pieces: China’s Economy, India’s Economy, and More

by Isobel Coleman
General view of residential and commercial buildings in Haikou, Hainan Province, China, May 5, 2010 (Courtesy Reuters). General view of residential and commercial buildings in Haikou, Hainan Province, China, May 5, 2010 (Courtesy Reuters).

Charles Landow covers China, India, South Africa, Brazil, and the European Parliament in this week’s Missing Pieces. Enjoy the selection and let us know your thoughts.

  • Wobbling Growth in China…: Robert Samuelson of the Washington Post this week considers the prospect of a major slowdown in China. Ingredients include a potential housing bubble, weak demand for Chinese exports abroad, and rising government debt. A “soft landing,” or modest reduction in GDP growth, is still seen as likely, but a Nomura report cited by Samuelson sees a one-in-three chance of a steeper drop. A recent op-ed by CFR president Richard Haass reviews China’s daunting economic to-do list. The current Foreign Affairs also features a debate over the prospects for China’s continued rise. Read more »

Missing Pieces: Egypt’s Elections, the Korean and Chinese Economies, and More

by Isobel Coleman

Thousands of Egyptians gather during a demonstration at Tahrir Square in Cairo, November 18, 2011 (Mohamed Abd El-Ghany/Courtesy Reuters).

Charles Landow covers developments in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America in this week’s edition of Missing Pieces. Enjoy the reading and let us know your thoughts.

  • Egypt’s Bumpy Road: With the first round of parliamentary elections set for November 28, concern is growing about Egypt’s transition and the military’s role. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned last week that “a roomful of unelected officials” should not remain Egypt’s “most powerful political force.” Some 50,000 Egyptians protested continued military control today in Tahrir Square. The convoluted election system, with six rounds of voting and a plethora of lists, districts, and quotas, “seems deliberately designed to befuddle all but the deepest insiders,” as a Foreign Policy piece this week puts it. The piece surveys the party landscape, concluding that the Muslim Brotherhood and remnants of the Mubarak regime will likely dominate the voting. On his blog, CFR’s Ed Husain has written recently (here and here) about accusations that the Brotherhood is “bribing voters” with meat, vegetables, and candy. A GlobalPost piece highlights these and other accusations of malfeasance, along with uncertainty among voters over who is running. Read more »

Missing Pieces: Kyrgyzstan, China in Africa, and More

by Isobel Coleman

Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbayeva casts her ballot during the presidential election at a polling station in the capital Bishkek, October 30, 2011 (Sultan Dosaliev/Courtesy Reuters).

Charles Landow offers a selection of news and scholarly work in this week’s edition of Missing Pieces. Enjoy and have a good weekend.

  • Kyrgyzstan’s Election: Former prime minister Almazbek Atabayev won Kyrgyzstan’s presidential election on Sunday. He will take over on December 31 from Roza Otunbayeva, who has served as caretaker president since an uprising toppled the previous regime last year. As Voice of America explains, this will be the first voluntary transfer of power in Central Asia since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Sunday’s polls were decidedly imperfect, according to the OSCE. But “observers overall assessed the voting positively”–a solid outcome in a country torn apart after last year’s uprising, as this report from the International Crisis Group shows. The Economist explains that Atabayev will need to repair lingering ethnic tensions, as well as combat organized crime and boost the economy. The new president is seen as friendly to Russia; he pledged on Tuesday to close the U.S. air base at Manas, a crucial supply post for the war in Afghanistan, when its lease expires in 2014. Read more »