Browsing the web today, I’ve come across two things that Friday-me is pretty unimpressed with, but lacks the time and patience to attack fully.
…there are also colossal longer-term risks. Growth rates of the sort envisaged for developing countries by the World Bank and PwC will put massive pressures on commodity prices and the environment. After two centuries of economic and political hegemony, rich countries may not take kindly to being challenged by China and India. And if, as looks highly probable, clashes over resources and currencies are a proxy for a deeper political struggle between the emerging east and the declining west, the world will need a robust and effective system of global governance to manage the tensions. And, as the failures to conclude a trade deal or make progress on a climate change accord have shown quite clearly, there isn’t one.
This is all probably more or less accurate. Commodity prices and the environment are going to be under severe pressure in the foreseeable future, but the biggest culprits are still the developed countries which are consuming more and more from a much higher starting point. A little more growth won’t affect this significantly. His point about increasing conflict between East and West might also be true, but the dominant narrative of international tension right now remains national security. Economic tensions are there but all the players see that there are as many opportunities as there are threats in the rise of the two most populous countries in the world.
New growth estimates do not make either of these issues more pressing than they already are. Linking them to growth is counter-productive because as soon as you tell a country or a people, especially a poor one, that it needs to grow less, you lose your audience.
The second thing I’m dubious about is DfID’s proposal to allow the public to essentially vote on what it spends its money on, through a matching scheme. I’ve blogged numerous times in the past about why certain kinds of spending are popular with the public. This kind of approach will just increase the skew of development financing away from the economy and towards social development, and reduce the use of General Budget Support, the option that most respects the idea of country ownership of the development process. Still, it’s a consultation, so whether you agree with me or not, let them know.