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Development Channel

Issues and innovations in global economic development

This Week in Markets and Democracy: Violent Kleptocracies, Ethiopia’s Unrest

by Shannon K. O'Neil Friday, October 14, 2016
Demonstrators chant slogans while flashing the Oromo protest gesture during Irreecha, the thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people, in Bishoftu town, Oromia region, Ethiopia, October 2, 2016 (Reuters/Tiksa Negeri). Demonstrators chant slogans while flashing the Oromo protest gesture during Irreecha, the thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people, in Bishoftu town, Oromia region, Ethiopia, October 2, 2016 (Reuters/Tiksa Negeri).

Fighting the Worst Kleptocracies
Worse than kleptocracies are violent kleptocracies, as defined in a new report by advocacy group The Enough Project. In these, leaders run the state as a predatory criminal enterprise, looting the treasury and using virtually all means of government power—the judicial system, military, and security forces—to intimidate, jail, and eliminate any opposition. With near unquestioned power, this all happens with impunity. South Sudan is a classic example—its leaders making millions off of a brutal civil war they fueled. Existing anticorruption tools and agreements—the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and the UN Convention Against Corruption among them—do little to change this deadly status quo, according the report. Instead, it says the United States should crack down on these corrupt leaders—taking away their visas, imposing sanctions, seizing ill-gotten assets that come through the U.S. banking system, and using evidence from Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigations to help go after not only the companies that pay bribes, but the officials who take them.

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Mexico’s Corrupt Governors

by Shannon K. O'Neil Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Javier Duarte, governor of the state of Veracruz, attends a news conference in Xalapa, Mexico, August 10, 2015 (Reuters/Stringer). Javier Duarte, governor of the state of Veracruz, attends a news conference in Xalapa, Mexico, August 10, 2015 (Reuters/Stringer).

Last June, Mexico elected new governors in twelve of its thirty-one states. As millions of voters went to the urns, corruption was a top concern (along with insecurity). Eight states saw the incumbent party kicked out; in four—Veracruz, Quintana Roo, Chihuahua, and Durango—the PRI lost for the first time in the party’s history.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: Study on Factory Labor, Thai Anticorruption Court, Afghanistan Aid

by Shannon K. O'Neil Friday, October 7, 2016
A woman stitches leather gloves at the Pittards world class leather manufacturing company in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, March 22, 2016. Picture taken March 22, 2016 (Reuters/Tiksa Negeri). A woman stitches leather gloves at the Pittards world class leather manufacturing company in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, March 22, 2016. Picture taken March 22, 2016 (Reuters/Tiksa Negeri).

Why Trade Deals Matter for Workers Everywhere
The shift of low-skilled manufacturing jobs from industrialized to emerging economies helped lift millions out of poverty over the past few decades (even as it displaced Western workers). But a new study of Ethiopia’s growing manufacturing sector shows that while factory jobs raise wages throughout the economy, the benefits for workers are mixed. Compared to a control group of self-employed and informal sector workers, those employed in the new factories did not earn more and faced significantly higher health and safety risks—exposed to chemicals and injuries from unsafe working conditions. These findings show why trade agreements matter. By incorporating labor and environmental standards and mechanisms to enforce these rules, they can improve the livelihood of workers in all places.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: EU Investigates Panama Papers, Airbus Subsidy Ruling, Och-Ziff Bribery Settlement

by Shannon K. O'Neil Friday, September 30, 2016
An Airbus A380 performs during a flying display at the 47th Paris Air Show at Le Bourget airport near Paris, June 21, 2007 (Reuters/Pascal Rossigno). An Airbus A380 performs during a flying display at the 47th Paris Air Show at Le Bourget airport near Paris, June 21, 2007 (Reuters/Pascal Rossigno).

The EU Investigates the Panama Papers
Six months after the first Panama Papers leak, revelations about the global shell company business continue. The latest tranche of documents from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) detail over 175,000 Bahamian companies, many linked to European Union (EU) politicians. Having just opened a Panama Papers-inspired inquiry into whether the European Commission or European governments were applying their own laws on tax-avoidance and financial transparency, the new data illuminates potential test cases—including the former EU commissioner for competition policy and current UK home secretary. Reporters and the named politicians will be asked to speak at upcoming hearings that could lead to reforms.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: Brazil’s Lula Charged, Thai Labor Case, Corporate Tax Battles

by Shannon K. O'Neil Friday, September 23, 2016
Brazil's former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva attends an event with workers' unions leaders against the privatization of Brazilian state companies and against Brazil's interim President Michel Temer, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 6, 2016 (Reuters/Ricardo Moraes). Brazil's former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva attends an event with workers' unions leaders against the privatization of Brazilian state companies and against Brazil's interim President Michel Temer, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 6, 2016 (Reuters/Ricardo Moraes).

Brazil’s Lula Charged with Corruption
After months of speculation, Brazilian judge Sérgio Moro allowed bribery charges against former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Lula) to move forward. He is accused of accepting $1.1 million in improvements for his beachfront apartment from OAS, one of Brazil’s largest construction companies, in exchange for Petrobras contracts. Lula is the latest and most prominent figure to be charged in the Lava Jato investigations, joining dozens of other political and business leaders, including former lower house speaker Eduardo Cunha, former Worker’s Party (PT) treasurer João Vaccari Neto, and construction magnate Marcelo Odebrecht. Next up may be President Michel Temer, already named in Odebrecht’s plea bargain for soliciting illegal campaign contributions during the 2014 presidential election.

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Beyond Supply Chain Transparency Laws

by Guest Blogger for Shannon K. O'Neil Thursday, September 22, 2016
Cresencio Bumanglag, a worker of Dole Food Company, rakes coffee fruits for them to dry at the company's Waialua coffee and cocoa farm on the North Shore of Oahu, in Hawaii November 9, 2011. Leaders of major nations bordering the Pacific will meet from Wednesday to Sunday in Hawaii in an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit on building a regional free trade area and an environmental initiative to help spur world economic growth. Picture taken November 9, 2011 (Reuters/Yuriko Nakao). Cresencio Bumanglag, a worker of Dole Food Company, rakes coffee fruits for them to dry at the company's Waialua coffee and cocoa farm on the North Shore of Oahu, in Hawaii November 9, 2011. Leaders of major nations bordering the Pacific will meet from Wednesday to Sunday in Hawaii in an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit on building a regional free trade area and an environmental initiative to help spur world economic growth. Picture taken November 9, 2011 (Reuters/Yuriko Nakao).

Global trade and the supply chains that support it are undergoing a period of profound change. Supply chains face threats including a resurgence of protectionism, climate change, decaying infrastructure, and human rights abuses. The Development Channel’s series on global supply chains will highlight analysis on emerging trends and challenges. This post is from Zoe Rubin, former intern with the Council on Foreign Relations’ Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Program. 

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: FIFA Investigations, Corruption in Romania and the Maldives, New South Sudan Report

by Shannon K. O'Neil Friday, September 16, 2016
British comedian known as Lee Nelson (unseen) throws banknotes at FIFA President Sepp Blatter as he arrives for a news conference after the Extraordinary FIFA Executive Committee Meeting at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland July 20, 2015. World football's troubled governing body FIFA will vote for a new president, to replace Sepp Blatter, at a special congress to be held on February 26 in Zurich, the organisation said on Monday (Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann). British comedian known as Lee Nelson (unseen) throws banknotes at FIFA President Sepp Blatter as he arrives for a news conference after the Extraordinary FIFA Executive Committee Meeting at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland July 20, 2015. World football's troubled governing body FIFA will vote for a new president, to replace Sepp Blatter, at a special congress to be held on February 26 in Zurich, the organisation said on Monday (Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann).

FIFA Investigates Its Own Corruption
A year after the United States and Switzerland went after top FIFA officials on fraud, money laundering, and racketeering charges tied to a $150 million corruption scheme, soccer’s international governing body is taking actions itself. The federation fined former vice president Jeffrey Webb $1 million for accepting bribes and banned him for life from the sport. It also opened an investigation on former President Sepp Blatter and two top associates for bribery, corruption, and conflicts of interest, including adding several illegal provisions to their contracts—boosting their combined salaries to over $80 million, and guaranteeing them eight years of pay even if fired for just cause. FIFA’s new dynamism may begin to restore its tarnished reputation, and the information it uncovers could help U.S. and Swiss prosecutors with their own ongoing criminal cases.

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Managing the Unpredictable Risks in Supply Chains

by Guest Blogger for Shannon K. O'Neil Thursday, September 15, 2016
Firefighters extinguish a fire at a food and cigarette packaging factory outside of Dhaka, Bangladesh, September 10, 2016 (Reuters/Mohammad Ponir Hossain). Firefighters extinguish a fire at a food and cigarette packaging factory outside of Dhaka, Bangladesh (Reuters/Mohammad Ponir Hossain).

Global trade and the supply chains that support it are undergoing a period of profound change. Supply chains face threats including a resurgence of protectionism, climate change, decaying infrastructure, and human rights abuses. The Development Channel’s series on global supply chains will highlight experts’ analysis on emerging trends and challenges. This post is from Sang Kim, Associate Professor at Yale School of Management. 

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: Central America Takes on Corruption, Venezuela’s Protests, G20 Summit

by Shannon K. O'Neil Friday, September 9, 2016
Venezuelans living in Mexico take part in a protest to demand a referendum to remove Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro at Angel de la Independencia monument in Mexico City, Mexico, September 4, 2016 (Reuters/Edgard Garrido). Venezuelans living in Mexico take part in a protest to demand a referendum to remove Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro at Angel de la Independencia monument in Mexico City, Mexico, September 4, 2016 (Reuters/Edgard Garrido).

Central America Takes on Corruption 
Central American judiciaries have been stepping up to fight corruption. Last year Guatemala’s attorney general’s office, working closely with UN-backed International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), took down then-President Otto Pérez Molina for stealing tens of millions of dollars in customs duties. Pressured by civil society, the Honduran government agreed to a similar Organization for American States (OAS)-backed body, the Mission to Support the Fight Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH), to investigate graft after $200 million disappeared from the country’s social security system. And El Salvador’s new Attorney General Douglas Meléndez, sworn in at the start of the year, is prosecuting several high-level officials and former officials with unexplained millions in their bank accounts. While this week’s asylum in Nicaragua for former Salvadorian President Mauricio Funes and his family is a potential setback, the cases themselves represent a sea change in justice for Central America’s Northern Triangle.

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Who Governs Global Value Chains?

by Guest Blogger for Shannon K. O'Neil Tuesday, August 16, 2016
Containers and cars are loaded on freight trains at the railroad shunting yard in Maschen near Hamburg September 23, 2012 (REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer). Containers and cars are loaded on freight trains at the railroad shunting yard in Maschen near Hamburg September 23, 2012 (REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer).

Global trade and the supply chains that support it are undergoing a period of profound change. Supply chains face threats including a resurgence of protectionism, climate change, decaying infrastructure, and human rights abuses. The Development Channel’s series on global supply chains will highlight experts’ analysis on emerging trends and challenges. This post is from Dr. Sherry Stephenson, senior fellow at the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD). 

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