“The Vital Wave Consulting” blog has an interesting post from June 26 – “Is the Rest of the World Ready for a Unified BRIC?” - about last week’s summit in Moscow of the four “BRIC” countries: Brazil, Russia, India, and China. The article ponts out that trade among the four countries is too small to justify talk of a new trading bloc, but remarks that they have some common interests with respect to world trade, notably reducing reliance on the U.S. dollar. The BRIC countries are hard to overlook. Together they comprise about 43% of the world’s population and 15% of its GDP, and hold over 40% of the world’s gold and foreign exchange reserves. Their economies are growing at more than double the pace of developed economies. That they are holding a summit at all indicates that they are looking for ways to throw their combined weight around for mutual benefit. [click to continue…]
I have often woken up in hotels and for a very long minute have had no idea where I am, whether it is Africa or Asia, Minsk or Madagascar, and there are seldom any visual clues to help you guess. I tend to stay in major chain hotels when I travel for business, and one Hilton hotel room looks much like any other. What they lack in local charm they often – though not always – make up for in cleanliness and internet connectivity. [click to continue…]
I arrived a week ago in Minsk, capital of the former Soviet Republic of Belarus, as part of a small team of World Bank staff and consultants visiting for a week to conduct what is called a “mini-diagnostic” of the investment climate – or business enabling environment, as it is also called – and to identify areas in which reform is both needed and possible.
Over the past decade or more, investment climate reform has become a core product for the World Bank Group, which has been offered to at least a hundred countries. It is a reflection of the “Washington Consensus,” which I have written about in a previous post, and which is a statement of the market-oriented reforms and liberalization of the economy considered essential to achieve economic growth. [click to continue…]
In Belarus, where I have been since Sunday, the government until very recently remained convinced that the global economic crisis would pass them by. Now, almost every conversation contains references to “the crisis.” What changed? [click to continue…]
I have been in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, the past few days, working on a World Bank Group assignment to help improve the investment climate. Minsk is a European-looking city with wide boulevards, grand neoclassical buildings, and a fairly prosperous air, most people fairly well-fed and well-dressed. The streets are clean and free of crime, and there are none of the gangs of drunken youth or ominous clusters of mafiosi up to no good that I remember from previous trips to other parts of the former Soviet Union, A fairly normal place, you’d think.
But Belarus has a serious image problem. [click to continue…]