Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Interesting article about the HDI

Cuba not in the 2010 HDI.

Here's the story.

How was Cuba doing prior to 2010?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Predicting political unrest

This is pretty cool. You gotta love statistics. Using 20 years of publicly available data from 150 nations, researchers at Kansas State University have developed a model to forecast civil unrest.

Named "The Predictive Societal Indicators of Radicalism Model of Domestic Political Violence Forecast", the model uses measures of coercion (motivation or fuel for the fire), coordination (ability of the populous to mobilize) and capacity (ability to dampen the intensity of protest) to predict which nations are likely to experience domestic civil unrest.

The article notes that they're 5 for 5 in their predictions so far, but considering what's happening in Egypt right now it looks like we can say they're 5 for 6. Notice the importance of Twitter. We'd categorize that under coordination.

Thanks to Ryan H. for the lead.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Global prosperity

Real Clear World has some cool graphics to play around with...

Click here to view the top 10 most prosperous nations in the world (click country #10, country #9, etc on the left to view some basic stats about each).

Look below for other interesting questions. I haven't read through all of these.

Why Tunisia is different

From Robert Kaplan of the NYT.

Favorable history, geography, and an initial focus on development as a means to growth (rather than the other way around) by Bourguiba - before things eventually turned bad under Ben Ali... contrast these with some of Tunisia's neighbors.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Links from class

CPI inflation calculator from BLS. See how far a dollar went back in the day.

Currency converter (use for official exchange rates).

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cool gapminder video on YouTube

Click here. Hans Rosling is a hoot.

PPP from the IMF

Here's a short and useful article about purchasing power parity from the IMF.

Read about the Big Mac index at The Economist here, here and here.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Conflict in Tunisia

Read about the recent rebellion in the north African nation here at Time Magazine , here at the Washington Post and here at the Guardian.

Interesting to contrast today's state of affairs with conditions just a couple of years ago.

Here is a map showing Tunisia's location.

What's at issue? Acute problems are unemployment, food prices and by extension, food security. More generally, it's about freedom.

Collier discusses the "conflict trap" in The Bottom Billion and notes that a large part of the economic costs of rebellion and civil war are realized long after the rebellion is over. We'd call this a lag effect, where today's actions have implications for tomorrow's outcomes. Perhaps more important for Tunisia, Collier finds that rebellion most often does not result in improvements in the conditions that ostensibly spawned the rebellion to begin with. Indeed, he notes that civil war can be the start of a long process of "development in reverse". Importantly for the rest of us, he finds that civil wars and rebellions result in adverse spillover effects on the region, often extending into high-income countries. Check out that map again. Also consider that nations in the EU are Tunisia's principal trade partners.

It's important to point out that Collier's work is based on analysis of many countries, and the results do not serve to predict what will happen in a particular situation. Rather, they should be interpreted as what is likely to occur on average. Let's hope Tunisia is an exception.

For more reading, here's a relatively short piece by Collier on economic development and conflict.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Welcome to ECN 429.

Let's get started...

Check out the Millennium Development Goals at the U.N.

Explore facts and statistics (use the drop down boxes) at NationMaster.

The interactive World Development Indicator maps from World Bank are pretty cool (scroll down and click a topic).

Read some stuff by Nicholas Kristof.

Read some old posts from this blog.