What We Read Today 14 May 2014

May 14th, 2014
in econ_news, syndication

Econintersect: Every day our editors collect the most interesting things they find from around the internet and present a summary "reading list" which will include very brief summaries of why each item has gotten our attention. Suggestions from readers for "reading list" items are gratefully reviewed, although sometimes space limits the number included.

  • Modi rose as Chindia sank (Simon Denyer, The Times of India) Hat tip to Sanjeev Kulkarni. India is looking for a pathway out of the "quiet trauma of a decade when the Indian dream was junked". It appears the country has elected as premier Marendra Modi who has been Chief Minister of the state of Gujarat since 2001. (Continued...)

Follow up:

In Modi, many Indians hope to end years of underachievement under desperately weak leadership. Under his rule, Gujarat's economy has grown more than 10% a year, more than two percentage points above the national average, corruption has been kept in check and industrial investment has arrived. Poverty has fallen faster than the national average, electricity and clean drinking water delivered to villages and girls' dropout rates from schools slashed. It may not be the miracle some of his supporters pretend, but Modi's economic achievements cannot simply be brushed aside.
  • Xi Says China Must Adapt to ‘New Normal’ of Slower Growth (Helen Sun and Nerys Avery, Reuters) Chinese President Xi Jinping continues to insist that the Chinese economy must slow and the government must take "timely countermeasures to reduce potential negative effects". But he did not change the objective for 7.5% GDP growth this year which seems at odds with the stated objective.
  • Schooled (Dale Russakoff, The New Yorker) When big bucks (in this case $200 million, including $100 million in matching grants from Mark Zuckerberg) are involved it is a mistake not to have a plan before you have the money. In this case Zuckerberg, former Newark mayor Corey Booker and New Jersey governor Chris Christie are the subject of the title: They got schooled. Although there has been some progress in Newark schools, it is far from what the three envisioned when they started the ambitious effort to reform the education system in that high-poverty city over four years ago.

They started with a concept of improving community control, encouraging more parental involvement and moving toward school choice. The New Yorker article does give details of some improvements in Newark schools but reform would hardly be the proper description. Some experimental changes would be more accurate.

The article also gives details of how significant amounts of money (tens of millions) was spent on studies, consulting firms and other efforts to move from conception plan; they say that more than 10% ($20 million) was spent on consultants, some upwards of $1,000 a day.

Econintersect wonders how this might have turned out if the money had been available in small amounts at the beginning and only to be used to define the plan, with further funding applied after when parties involved (school boards, teachers' unions, parents' groups, state department of education and others) all agreed. Instead of using the money to fight for their individual interests they would have been forced to define a plan to get additional money.

  • Why Nigeria cannot defeat Boko Haram (Andrew Walker, BBC) Hat tip to Roger Erickson.. A poorly trained military, a disorganized government and a president who is not involved are three of the reasons. The incompetence involved is represented by the following graph showing how an 18-month tend toward fewer deaths reversed to twelve months of rising fatalities after martial law was declared May 2014.


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