Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Over 900 Biotechnology Medicines in Development, Targeting More than 100 Diseases

Over 900 Biotechnology Medicines in Development, Targeting More than 100 Diseases
September 14, 2011

Biotechnology has opened the door to the discovery and development of new types of human therapeutics. Advancements in both cellular and molecular biology have allowed scientists to identify and develop a host of new products. These cutting-edge medicines provide significant clinical benefits, and in many cases, address therapeutic categories where no effective treatment previously existed.

Innovative, targeted therapies offer enormous potential to address unmet medical needs of patients with cancer, HIV/AIDS, and many other serious diseases. These medicines also hold the potential to help us meet the challenge of rising healthcare costs by avoiding treatment complications and making sure each patient gets the most effective care possible.

Approved biotechnology medicines already treat or help prevent heart attacks, stroke, multiple sclerosis, leukemia, hepatitis, congestive heart failure, lymphoma, kidney cancer, cystic fibrosis, and other diseases. These medicines use many different approaches to treat disease as do medicines currently in the pipeline.

America's biopharmaceutical research companies have 901 biotechnology medicines and vaccines in development to target more than 100 debilitating and life- threatening diseases, such as cancer, arthritis and diabetes, according to a new report [] by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). The medicines in development—all in either clinical trials or under Food and Drug Administration review—include 353 for cancer and related conditions, 187 for infectious diseases, 69 for autoimmune diseases and 59 for cardiovascular diseases.

The biotechnology medicines now in development make use of these and other state-of- the-art approaches. For example:

•A genetically-modified virus-based vaccine to treat melanoma.
•A monoclonal antibody for the treatment of cancer and asthma.
•An antisense medicine for the treatment of cancer.
•A recombinant fusion protein to treat age-related macular degeneration.


Autoimmune Diseases: Autoimmunity is the underlying cause of more than 100 serious, chronic illnesses, targeting women 75 percent of the time. Autoimmune diseases have been cited in the top 10 leading causes of all deaths among U.S. women age 65 and younger, representing the fourth largest cause of disability among women in the United States.

Blood Disorders: Hemophilia affects 1 in 5,000 male births. About 400 babies are born with hemophilia each year. Currently, the number of people with hemophilia in the United States is estimated to be about 20,000, based on expected births and deaths since 1994.

Sickle cell disease is an inherited disease that affects more than 80,000 people in the United States, 98 percent of whom are of African descent.

Von Willebrand disease, the most common inherited bleeding condition, affects males and females about equally and is present in up to 1 percent of the U.S. population.

Cancer: Cancer is the second leading cause of death by disease in the United States—1 of every 4 deaths—exceeded only by heart disease. This year nearly 1.6 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed, 78 percent of which will be for individuals ages 55 and older.

Cardiovascular Diseases (CVD): CVD claims more lives each year than cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, and accidents combined. More than 82 million American adults—greater than one in three—had one or more types of CVD. Of that total, 40.4 million were estimated to be age 60 and older.

Diabetes: In the United States, 25.8 million people, or 8.3 percent of the population, have diabetes. An estimated 18.8 million have been diagnosed, but 7 million people are not aware that they have the disease. Another 79 million have pre-diabetes. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.

Genetic Disorders: There are more than 6,000 known genetic disorders. Approximately 4 million babies are born each year, and about 3 percent-4 percent will be born with a genetic disease or major birth defect. More than 20 percent of infant deaths are caused by birth defects or genetic conditions (e.g., congenital heart defects, abnormalities of the nervous system, or chromosomal abnormalities).

Alzheimer’s Disease: In 2010 there were an estimated 454,000 new cases of Alzheimer’s disease. In 2008, Alzheimer’s was reported as the underlying cause of death for 82,476 people. Almost two-thirds of all Americans living with Alzheimer’s are women.

Parkinson's Disease: This disease has been reported to affect approximately 1 percent of Americans over age 50, but unrecognized early symptoms of the disease may be present in as many as 10 percent of those over age 60. Parkinson's disease is more prevalent in men than in women by a ratio of three to two.

Asthma: An estimated 39.9 million Americans have been diagnosed with asthma by a health professional within their lifetime. Females traditionally have consistently higher rates of asthma than males. African Americans are also more likely to be diagnosed with asthma over their lifetime.

Skin Diseases: More than 100 million Americans—one-third of the U.S. population—are afflicted with skin diseases.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Has the global banking system become more fragile over time?

Has the global banking system become more fragile over time? By Deniz Anginer & Asli Demirguc-Kunt

Abstract: This paper examines time-series and cross-country variations in default risk co-dependence in the global banking system. The authors construct a default risk measure for all publicly traded banks using the Merton contingent claim model, and examine the evolution of the correlation structure of default risk for more than 1,800 banks in more than 60 countries. They find that there has been a significant increase in default risk co-dependence over the three-year period leading to the financial crisis. They also find that countries that are more integrated, and that have liberalized financial systems and weak banking supervision, have higher co-dependence in their banking sector. The results support an increase in scope for international supervisory co-operation, as well as capital charges for "too-connected-to-fail" institutions that can impose significant externalities.


The last decade has seen a tremendous transformation in the global financial sector. Globalization, innovations in communications technology and de-regulation have led to significant growth of financial institutions around the world. These trends had positive economic benefits and have led to increased productivity, increased capital flows, lower borrowing costs, and better price discovery and risk diversification. But the same trends have also led to greater linkages across financial institutions around the world as well as an increase in exposure of these institutions to common sources of risk. The recent financial crisis has demonstrated that financial institutions around the world are highly inter-connected and that vulnerabilities in one market can easily spread to other markets outside of national boundaries.

In this paper we examine whether the global trends described above have led to an increase in co-dependence in default risk of commercial banks around the world. The growing expansion of financial institutions beyond national boundaries over the past decade has resulted in these institutions competing in increasingly similar markets, exposing them to common sources of market and credit risk. During the same period, rapid development of new financial instruments has created new channels of inter-dependency across these institutions. Both increased interconnections and common exposure to risk makes the banking sector more vulnerable to economic, liquidity and information shocks. There is substantial theoretical literature that models the various channels through which such shocks can culminate in a systemic banking crisis (see for instance Bhattacharya and Gale 1987, Allen and Gale 2000, Diamond and Rajan 2005; and focusing on the recent crisis, Brunnermeier 2009, Danielsson, Shin, and Zigrand 2009, Battiston et al. 2009 among others.) To examine whether the global banking sector has become more interdependent and more fragile to shocks, we construct a default risk measure for all publicly traded banks using the Merton (1974) contingent claim model. We compute weekly time series of default probabilities for over 1,800 banks in over 60 countries and examine the evolution of the correlation structure of default risk over the 1998 – 2010 time period.

Our empirical findings show that there has been a substantial increase in co-dependence in default risk of publicly traded banks starting around the beginning of 2004 leading up to the global financial crisis starting in the summer of 2007. Although we observe an overall trend towards convergence in default risk globally, this trend has been much stronger for North American and European banks. We also find that increase in co-dependence has been higher for banks that are larger (with greater than 50 billion in assets). We also examine variation in co-dependence across countries. We find that countries that are more integrated, have liberalized financial systems and weak banking supervision have higher co-dependence in their banking sector.

Increased co-dependence in credit risk in the banking sector has important implications for capital regulations. In the aftermath of the sub-prime crisis of 2007/08, there has been renewed interest in macro-prudential regulation and supervision of the financial system. There has also been a growing consensus to adjust capital requirements to better reflect an individual bank‟s contribution to the risk of the financial system as a whole (Brunnermeier, Crockett, Goodhart, Persaud, and Shin 2009, Financial Stability Forum 2009a, 2009b). Recently a number of papers have tried to measure and quantify systemic risk inherent in the global banking sector. Adrian and Brunnermeier (2009), Huang, Zhou, and Zhou (2009), Chan-Lau and Gravelle (2005), Avesani et al. (2006), and Elsinger and Lehar (2008), use a portfolio credit risk approach to compute the contribution of an individual bank to the risk of a portfolio of banks. Our paper is related to this strand of literature, but our focus is not on quantifying systemic risk of large financial institutions but rather to examine time series trends for a large cross-section of banks. A number of papers have examined the correlation structure of equity returns of a subsample of banks. De Nicolo and Kwast (2002) find rising correlations between bank stock returns in the U.S. from 1988 and 1999. Schuler (2002) find similar results for Europe using a sample from 1980 to 2001. Hawkesby, Marsh and Stevens (2005) analyze co-movements in equity returns for a set of US and European large complex financial institutions using several statistical techniques and find a high degree of commonality. This paper is also related to the literature that studies contagion in financial markets (see among others Forbes and Rigobon 2002, Kee-Hong Bae and Stulz 2003) and also the literature that examines the impact of globalization on convergence of asset prices (Bekeart and Wang 2009, Longin and Solnik 1995, Bekaert and Harvey 2000, and Bekaert, Hodrick and Zhang 2009).

This paper differs from the existing literature in three respects. First, our empirical analyses cast a wider net than the existing literature which focuses only in a particular region or a country and covers a shorter time period. Second we examine time series trends in co-dependence and test for structural changes over time. Finally, we examine cross-country differences in co-dependence and link the differences to measures of financial and economic openness and regulatory frameworks in different countries.

Policymakers may be able to draw important implications from our analysis. Co-dependence in bank default risk has important consequences for systemic stability. We find increasing co-dependence in banks located in different national jurisdictions. Although we do find that strong banking supervision tends to reduce co-dependence in a given country, our results call for banking supervisory co-operation at a global level. This is especially true for larger banks which have grown more interconnected over the past decade.

President Obama can't win by running a constructive campaign, and he won't be able to govern if he does win a second term

The Hillary Moment. By Patrick H Caddell & Douglas E Schoen
President Obama can't win by running a constructive campaign, and he won't be able to govern if he does win a second term.

When Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson accepted the reality that they could not effectively govern the nation if they sought re-election to the White House, both men took the moral high ground and decided against running for a new term as president. President Obama is facing a similar reality—and he must reach the same conclusion.

He should abandon his candidacy for re-election in favor of a clear alternative, one capable not only of saving the Democratic Party, but more important, of governing effectively and in a way that preserves the most important of the president's accomplishments. He should step aside for the one candidate who would become, by acclamation, the nominee of the Democratic Party: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Never before has there been such an obvious potential successor—one who has been a loyal and effective member of the president's administration, who has the stature to take on the office, and who is the only leader capable of uniting the country around a bipartisan economic and foreign policy.

Certainly, Mr. Obama could still win re-election in 2012. Even with his all-time low job approval ratings (and even worse ratings on handling the economy) the president could eke out a victory in November. But the kind of campaign required for the president's political survival would make it almost impossible for him to govern—not only during the campaign, but throughout a second term.

Put simply, it seems that the White House has concluded that if the president cannot run on his record, he will need to wage the most negative campaign in history to stand any chance. With his job approval ratings below 45% overall and below 40% on the economy, the president cannot affirmatively make the case that voters are better off now than they were four years ago. He—like everyone else—knows that they are worse off.

President Obama is now neck and neck with a generic Republican challenger in the latest Real Clear Politics 2012 General Election Average (43.8%-43.%). Meanwhile, voters disapprove of the president's performance 49%-41% in the most recent Gallup survey, and 63% of voters disapprove of his handling of the economy, according to the most recent CNN/ORC poll.

Consequently, he has to make the case that the Republicans, who have garnered even lower ratings in the polls for their unwillingness to compromise and settle for gridlock, represent a more risky and dangerous choice than the current administration—an argument he's clearly begun to articulate.

One year ago in these pages, we warned that if President Obama continued down his overly partisan road, the nation would be "guaranteed two years of political gridlock at a time when we can ill afford it." The result has been exactly as we predicted: stalemate in Washington, fights over the debt ceiling, an inability to tackle the debt and deficit, and paralysis exacerbating market turmoil and economic decline.

If President Obama were to withdraw, he would put great pressure on the Republicans to come to the table and negotiate—especially if the president singularly focused in the way we have suggested on the economy, job creation, and debt and deficit reduction. By taking himself out of the campaign, he would change the dynamic from who is more to blame—George W. Bush or Barack Obama?—to a more constructive dialogue about our nation's future.

Even though Mrs. Clinton has expressed no interest in running, and we have no information to suggest that she is running any sort of stealth campaign, it is clear that she commands majority support throughout the country. A CNN/ORC poll released in late September had Mrs. Clinton's approval rating at an all-time high of 69%—even better than when she was the nation's first lady. Meanwhile, a Time Magazine poll shows that Mrs. Clinton is favored over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by 17 points (55%-38%), and Texas Gov. Rick Perry by 26 points (58%-32%).

But this is about more than electoral politics. Not only is Mrs. Clinton better positioned to win in 2012 than Mr. Obama, but she is better positioned to govern if she does. Given her strong public support, she has the ability to step above partisan politics, reach out to Republicans, change the dialogue, and break the gridlock in Washington.

President Bill Clinton reached a historic agreement with the Republicans in 1997 that led to a balanced budget. Were Mrs. Clinton to become the Democratic nominee, her argument would almost certainly have to be about reconciliation and about an overarching deal to rein in the federal deficit. She will understand implicitly the need to draw up a bipartisan plan with elements similar to her husband's in the mid-to-late '90s—entitlement reform, reform of the Defense Department, reining in spending, all the while working to preserve the country's social safety net.

Having unique experience in government as first lady, senator and now as Secretary of State, Mrs. Clinton is more qualified than any presidential candidate in recent memory, including her husband. Her election would arguably be as historic an event as the election of President Obama in 2008.

By going down the re-election road and into partisan mode, the president has effectively guaranteed that the remainder of his term will be marred by the resentment and division that have eroded our national identity, common purpose, and most of all, our economic strength. If he continues on this course it is certain that the 2012 campaign will exacerbate the divisions in our country and weaken our national identity to such a degree that the scorched-earth campaign that President George W. Bush ran in the 2002 midterms and the 2004 presidential election will pale in comparison.

We write as patriots and Democrats—concerned about the fate of our party and, most of all, our country. We do not write as people who have been in contact with Mrs. Clinton or her political operation. Nor would we expect to be directly involved in any Clinton campaign.

If President Obama is not willing to seize the moral high ground and step aside, then the two Democratic leaders in Congress, Sen. Harry Reid and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, must urge the president not to seek re-election—for the good of the party and most of all for the good of the country. And they must present the only clear alternative—Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Caddell served as a pollster for President Jimmy Carter. Mr. Schoen, who served as a pollster for President Bill Clinton, is author of "Hopelessly Divided: The New Crisis in American Politics and What It Means for 2012 and Beyond," forthcoming from Rowman and Littlefield.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

How Coca-Cola Manages 90 Emerging Markets

How Coca-Cola Manages 90 Emerging Markets, by William J. Holstein
The world’s largest beverage company has delegated major decision making to individual markets, but it maintains its global brand strategy through collaborative practices.
November 7, 2011

Ahmet C. Bozer, president of the Coca-Cola Company’s Eurasia and Africa Group, has spent his career demonstrating how a large international company can build a strategy and structure itself to compete in emerging markets. Coca-Cola is one of the most globally active international companies, deriving 80 percent of its sales from outside the U.S., and it is therefore one of the most experienced in tackling emerging markets, including Egypt and Pakistan, where political tension renders the business environment uncertain and Coca-Cola’s strategy has proven resilient.

Bozer, who was born and raised in Turkey, has worked for Coca-Cola since 1990 in various capacities, including operations and finance, as well as leading the Coca-Cola bottling company in Turkey. He is currently based in Istanbul, where he oversees 90 markets, ranging geographically from India and South Asia through the Middle East and all of Africa, across Turkey and the Caucasus into the countries of the former Soviet Union. This territory accounted for 16 percent of Coke’s sales last year, for a retail value of US$10 billion, and Bozer expects that number to grow rapidly during the next decade. Like four other regional presidents, Bozer reports directly to Coca-Cola Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent in Atlanta, Ga. Bozer sat down with us at the Coca-Cola offices in New York.

S+B: Your late CEO Roberto Goizueta charged the company to “think global, act local” in its strategy. How do you accomplish this?

BOZER: I wish it was as easy as repeating the slogan. The key for international companies is finding the right mix of global and local in their operations. The Coca-Cola brand is global, but it must be locally relevant. We may be giving the same happiness message, the same brand architecture may be communicated, but it has to be done differently in each country.

S+B: Your structure has strong regional managers such as yourself, but headquarters in Atlanta maintains global responsibility for sales, finance, and marketing — and for specific product lines like water or juices. How do you manage this?

BOZER: We are a franchise system. Our bottlers are primarily local. In Turkey, for example, we have a Turkish bottler. So the effectiveness of our company depends on the effectiveness of our relationships with the bottlers and our brands. To manage franchise relationships, you have to have a geographic orientation. Therefore our organization is primarily geographic. Globally, we have five operating groups: North America, Latin America, Europe, Eurasia and Africa, and Pacific.

At the same time, the juice business requires a different organizational structure than the sparkling beverages business. The raw material costs are high and fluctuate a lot, and there are opportunities to innovate more quickly; we may introduce four or five new variants of a juice in a given year. Thus, there is a matrix. A functional group in Atlanta is in charge of juices worldwide, but they work through the geographic organizations.

We are still evolving in finding the best local and global combination that works for us. When it comes to franchise relations with the bottlers, that is local. We have to make decisions in the local context with the right speed. Quality standards are both local (we adhere to all local government safety regulations) and global (we have our own global, rigorous, quality control standards). But we take advantage of our global properties and collaborate as a global team, bringing the best resources to bear on a specific issue.

S+B: How do you manage disagreements between the field and headquarters?
BOZER: We have been working on it for many years. We all understand that nothing is as black-and-white as we’d like. Let’s say I’m hiring a function leader. I am the ultimate decision maker, but I know that any function leader must operate as part of the global team. He or she must be able to collaborate globally, and the global organization has to be comfortable with that candidate. This is where maturity is important. We emphasize a collaborative process because it makes the decision better. But our culture is purely focused on making the right choice, rather than defining my turf versus your turf. That allows us to make these decisions quickly.

S+B: How do you manage the dramatic variations in cultures and politics among your 90 markets?
BOZER: It’s not as difficult as it might seem. I have six business units, based in South Africa, Kenya, Turkey, Russia, India, and Dubai. And I have a functional team in Istanbul with finance, marketing, and strategy capabilities. The functional team works as part of the global team to come up with strategic plans for each market. We share those with the business units, and we expect them to enrich [the plans] and add value to them by adapting them to their own needs.
Russia might say, “Well, iced tea is a big category here, so here’s how we are going to compete [with that product].” There is a clear thread of consistency among all the regions; we stay connected to the global team in Atlanta through the finance and marketing communities.

S+B: What do you see as the greatest opportunity in your 90 markets?
BOZER: If you project the demographics of today into 2020, you will find that about half of the favorable changes will be located in Eurasia and Africa: new entrants into the middle class, an increase in the number of teenagers, urbanization. A few of these countries have very high per capita consumption of our beverages. South Africa is about 250 drinks per year per person, which is above the global average. Turkey is higher than 150. But when you take those relatively well-developed markets out and look at India, Pakistan, sub-Saharan Africa, Russia, and central Asia, those markets have very low per capita consumption — for the whole industry. In India, just 4 or 5 percent of the beverages consumed are packaged. People drink tap water, tea, and dairy; vendors squeeze juice on the street. When people start having a bit more money and a middle class emerges, demand for packaged beverages will increase.
In that context, our strategy is not very complicated. We know how to grow “Brand Coke.” It’s about locally relevant brand building with consumers — the right pricing and packaging, with small packs, large packs, or take-home packs. We place new coolers in the market and invest in people, putting “feet on the street,” and activate outlets one by one. At the same time, there is a flourishing juice business and a flourishing water business, and in some of our markets, teas and energy drinks are developing.

S+B: How do you make yourself “locally relevant?”
BOZER: We have very strong consumer marketing teams. We invest a lot in understanding the psyche of the local consumer. In Egypt, during the Arab Spring [uprisings], our marketing people were able to tap into the psyche of the public — especially the teenagers. We understood that despite the uncertainty they were going through, they wanted to create a bright future. Our brand promise is happiness and optimism. Our team quickly put together some excellent consumer communication with the message that if everybody came together, the Egyptian people could build a better future. That message was delivered in a wonderful ad in which the skies over Tahrir Square in Cairo are quite overcast and dark, but people get together and throw ropes to the clouds and start pulling the ropes. The clouds open up and the sun appears. That type of communication resonated extremely well. We tapped into the feelings and emotions that were most relevant to the Egyptian people.
We try to do this kind of thing everywhere. We have good marketers in each country who have access into consumer insight data, and who work with very good agencies, while at the same time working with robust global processes.

S+B: Doesn’t political and social upheaval create a problem for you?
BOZER: Not really. I was in Pakistan recently. When you read the papers and watch television, you hear about terrorism, earthquakes, floods, and sectarian violence. It’s all negative. But we’ve been there for more than 50 years and we have not experienced any problems in running our business. In fact, our business is thriving there. Over the past four years, we have been growing extremely well. The same holds true for the Arab Spring countries.
In our external environment, we may have many headwinds, but we sell simple moments of pleasure that get consumed a million times a day, and that business continues to be vibrant. It’s a very simple product. Yes, growth slows when you go through major political changes, but things settle down and life goes back to normal. Then you start building from there.

S+B: You have a tremendous variation in the type and sophistication of bottlers you work with, ranging from a giant like SABMiller in South Africa to mom-and-pop-type bottlers in other markets. How do you adapt to their different styles and capabilities?
BOZER: This is the bread and butter of our business: being effective with our partnerships. Our partners may be multi-country bottlers, or they may operate within a single country. They may be public or private. In some countries we work with multiple bottlers. We have all kinds of relationships.

With each one, we first establish a shared vision. We have a one-page road map that portrays a very clear destination for 2020, a clear framework about our strategic pillars and metrics. That road map is actually prepared with our bottlers. It guides all our business planning.
Then it comes to capability. Does the bottler have the capability to execute these plans with us?

At the end of the day, we’re trying to create value for the overall system of the Coca-Cola Company and its bottlers, not just ourselves. Otherwise, the system won’t be sustainable in terms of our results.

One of the best examples is our bottler in Turkey, which I used to run. The bottler was built by the Coca-Cola Company and sold to a local shareholder who now owns a majority. It’s a public company with a market value of more than €2.5 billion (US$3.5 billion). It has great alignment with the Coca-Cola Company. It is now 10 times the size of when it started in 1994. This model really works.

S+B: How do you support your partners? Do you train them or lend them money?
BOZER: It depends on the needs of the bottler. The bottlers that operate in multiple countries tend not to need our help. But there might be some emerging area of knowledge — for example, about how to do better category management, in which case we have centers of excellence that the bottlers can access. We have websites where they can download best practices or get our help in building their capabilities. We sometimes support bottlers financially as well, if we are aligned on a fairly aggressive growth plan and want to invest in marketing to build the brands with more intensity. And let’s not forget, we own about 30 percent of our bottlers around the world.

S+B: How do you allow a local bottler and local business unit to differentiate the mix of products they offer?
BOZER: We don’t work in a way whereby every time a business unit wants to launch a product, they have to get my approval. Instead, we share the strategic framework. We have strategy discussions and business plan discussions, and we have other guidelines and rules.
For example, it is understood within the group that I want to know your top three priorities. If you want to launch a new product, but you need to take away [resources] from one of those core priorities to launch that product, then you shouldn’t do it. And if your bottler doesn’t have the capabilities to handle that product, you shouldn’t launch it. But if you can figure out how to do all of that in a way that still funds your core, if you have followed the right process, and if you are in the right marketplace with the right capabilities on the marketing side, then by all means go ahead.

We have Maaza juice in India, for example. The local team wanted to launch a Maaza milkshake, which is a wonderful mango dairy product. Dairy is a very relevant category in India, and Maaza milkshakes were received extremely well by consumers. My group function heads and the global function heads contributed to this by supporting the local team. This is not a bureaucratic approval–based system. Of course, there are approvals, but once the strategy and business plan are approved, local teams can execute.

S+B: Have you had much reverse innovation, in which a local group comes up with an idea that you take to other markets?
BOZER: Yes. One innovation that came out of India is the solar-powered coolers. We’re looking to expand that to other markets. There’s great engineering talent in India. Another product that shows promise is Minute Maid’s Pulpy, an orange juice with pulp that did extremely well in China. We expanded it into many countries. We have also taken communications elsewhere. Turkey, for example, had a very successful Ramadan communication to celebrate the holy month in Muslim countries. We took that to other Muslim countries in our group.

S+B: How do you recruit the talent you need?
BOZER: We look for critical experiences and functional competencies. And we ask about candidates: Do they represent the values of the company? We’re about optimism. A pessimistic person wouldn’t work out.
The nationality and gender don’t really matter. On my group leadership team of 18 people, I have 12 nationalities represented, including individuals from Zimbabwe, Scotland, the United States, Turkey, South Africa, India, Croatia, and elsewhere.
The most important competency is leadership. It takes very strong leadership to be able to explain the environment, establish a vision, and rally the troops. Command and control, in most cases, does not work. If you try to control everything, the system won’t work.

CGFS: The macrofinancial implications of alternative configurations for access to central counterparties in OTC derivatives markets

November 17, 2011
The Committee on the Global Financial System (CGFS) has today released a report on The macrofinancial implications of alternative configurations for access to central counterparties in OTC derivatives markets. It was prepared by a study group chaired by Timothy Lane of the Bank of Canada.

Various alternative access arrangements are under consideration for the central clearing of OTC derivatives trades. Several jurisdictions are exploring the establishment of domestic central counterparties (CCPs) and the possible benefits of establishing links between them.

The conditions under which market participants obtain access to central clearing could have important implications for financial stability and efficiency. The report concludes that:
  • expanding direct access to CCPs may reduce the concentration of risk in the largest global dealers. As direct access is broadened, it is essential that CCPs' risk management procedures be adapted appropriately to ensure their continued effectiveness;
  • both large global and smaller regional or domestic CCPs will probably play a role in meeting G20 commitments. In both cases, developing and adopting international standards will be essential to avoid regulatory arbitrage and promote effective cross-border monitoring of infrastructure and participants; and
  • CCPs and authorities should consider enhancements where needed to strengthen the safety and efficiency of indirect clearing that comply with international standards. Effective segregation, as well as portability of positions and collateral belonging to a direct clearer's clients, will be needed to realise the benefits of systemic risk reduction.
CGFS Chairman Mark Carney, in presenting the report, said that it "provides relevant and timely input to international initiatives related to CCP access arrangements and configurations."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Algeria: structural and other reasons for regime stability

Kal writes:
Richard Phelps argues that Algeria has not seen a popular uprising this year on broad structural lines (‘An Algerian Exception?‘ CMEC Blog): ‘Algerian regime does not have an identifiable leader with whom political power truly lies’.


And the government has focused its strategy toward them based on this reality and avoided the provocative showings of ‘symbolic’ violence that gave fuel to protest movements in Tunisia and Libya and Syria and Egypt (part of this is owed to the government’s relationships with the private media as well). Official and unofficial media has not covered demonstrations extensively to the extent that protesters in one city would necessarily be aware of those in another. The massive showing of ‘force’ at the February demonstrations — which were quite small, using barely a few thousand people if that — was a show of bodies more than anything else, and while protesters were manhandled and some beaten few or none were shot or killed in the way their counterparts elsewhere in the Arab world were. The government issued reforms, after long deliberations, and statements of intent to reform on a range of issues. It acted quickly to buy off organizers and potential participants or to contain and frustrate them rather than making public ‘examples’ of children or attempting to use overwhelming and direct force. The ‘crackdowns’ on protesters in Algeria this year were in large measure qualitatively different from those elsewhere, as were the demonstrations themselves.

Structurally it is important to understand that Algeria’s politics do operate in a diffuse manner, that power is spread through regional and professional and bureaucratic networks which often compete with one another but are also sometimes dependent on one another. (One might quibble with any comparison of the Algerian presidency to the power of any single office in Lebanon or to even its strongest Lebanese za’im; the perception and reality of the president’s power in Algeria is an interesting thing to follow and to try an gage at any one time but the presidency has frequently overwhelmed the military under Bouteflika.) The business class and the military officers and the technocrats and local notables intersect and it would be difficult to ‘purge’ the government as the Tunisians are now trying to do and it would also be difficult to make removing Bouteflika in a coup appear to Algerians as a symbolic act with and the armed forces a trusted ‘care taker’ of some transition process (let alone a ‘savior’) as the Egyptian Army did with Mubarak, since Algerians are generally more cynical and probably distrust their military and opposition more than their cousins in the rest of the region. It is also important to understand the field in which these various networks and factions (‘clans’) interact, overlap and struggle; it involves a great deal of both external and internal opacity and risk. There are enormous uncertainties involved. Longtime Algeria hand John Entelis wrote in September that change of some kind would wind up taking place in Algeria, if only so that the country’s elite could keep its own interests, and that  ’[w]hether this process develops peacefully or violently is ultimately in the hands of le pouvoir’.

But structural reasons are not the only ones Algeria has not seen an uprising. The Algerian military and political class has dealt with uprisings and transitions before and probably had a better idea of how to deal with such problems technically given its experience in the 1988-1990 period and the youth uprising in 2001 and the tens of thousands of youth riots which have struck the country in the last decade. In other words, it is important to recognize that the Algerian regime — like its counterparts elsewhere — made choices this year.

Read the whole post at

Monday, November 14, 2011

IMF Calls for Further Reforms in China’s Financial System

IMF Calls for Further Reforms in China’s Financial System
Press Release No. 11/409
November 14, 2011

China’s financial system is robust overall, but faces a steady build-up in vulnerabilities. While significant progress has been made towards developing a more commercially-oriented financial sector, and supervision and regulation are being strengthened, risks stem from the growing complexity of the system and the uncertainties surrounding the global economy. Further reforms are needed to support financial stability and encourage strong and balanced growth, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) says in its first formal evaluation of China’s financial sector published today.

The IMF’s first Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP) review of China was carried out jointly with the World Bank. China is one of 25 systemically important countries that have agreed to mandatory assessments at least once every five years. The FSAPs are part of the IMF’s activities in financial surveillance and the monitoring of the international monetary system.

“China’s banks and financial sector are healthy, but there are vulnerabilities that should be addressed by the authorities,” says Jonathan Fiechter, deputy director of the IMF’s Monetary and Capital Markets Department and the head of the IMF team that conducted the FSAP. “While the existing structure fosters high savings and high levels of liquidity, it also creates the risk of capital misallocation and the formation of bubbles, especially in real estate. The cost of such distortions will only rise over time, so the sooner these distortions are addressed the better.”

According to the FSAP report, China’s financial sector is confronting several near-term risks: deterioration in loan quality due to rapid credit expansion; growing disintermediation by shadow banks and off-balance sheet exposures; a downturn in real estate prices; and the uncertainties of the global economic scenario. Medium-term vulnerabilities are also building and could impair the needed reorientation of the financial system to support the country’s future growth. Moving along this path will pose additional risks, so priority must be given to establishing the institutional and operational preconditions that are crucial for a wide-ranging financial reform agenda.

The main areas of reform should include:
  • Steps to broaden financial markets and services, and developing diversified modalities of financial intermediation that would foster healthy competition among banks;
  • A reorientation of the role of government away from using the banking system to carry out broad government policy goals and to allow lending decisions to be based on commercial goals;
  • Expansion of the use of market-based monetary policy instruments, using interest rates as the main instrument to govern credit expansion, rather than administrative measures;
  • An upgrading of the financial infrastructure and legal frameworks, including strengthening the payments and settlement systems, as well as consumer protection and expansion of financial literacy.
The Chinese authorities have begun to move on many of its recommendations, and the IMF stands ready to provide technical cooperation in areas relating to strengthening the financial stability framework in China.

Stress Tests
Stress tests conducted jointly by the Fund and Chinese authorities of the country’s largest 17 commercial banks indicate that most of them appear to be resilient to isolated shocks, which include: a sharp deterioration in asset quality (including a correction in the real estate markets), shifts in the yield curve, and changes in the exchange rate. If several of these risks were to occur at the same time, however, the banking system could be severely impacted, the report warns.

About the FSAP
The Financial Sector Assessment Program, established in 1999, is an in-depth analysis of a country’s financial sector. The IMF conducts mandatory FSAPs for the 25 jurisdictions with systemically important financial sectors, and any member countries that request it. Assessments in developing and emerging market countries are conducted jointly with the World Bank. FSAPs include two components: a financial stability assessment, which is the responsibility of the Fund; and, in developing and emerging market countries, a financial development assessment, conducted by the World Bank.

To assess the stability of the financial sector, IMF teams examine the soundness of the banking and other financial sectors; rate the quality of bank, insurance, and capital market supervision against accepted international standards; and evaluate the ability of supervisors, policymakers, and financial safety nets to respond effectively to a systemic crisis. While FSAPs do not evaluate the health of individual financial institutions and cannot predict or prevent financial crises, they identify the main vulnerabilities that could trigger one.

In September 2010, the IMF made financial stability assessments under the FSAP a mandatory part of IMF surveillance every five years for jurisdictions deemed systemically important based on the size of the financial sector and their global interconnectedness. The countries affected by this decision are: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong SAR, Italy, Japan, India, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

For more information on FSAPs, see Press Release No. 10/357

CGFS: Global liquidity - concept, measurement and policy implications

Global liquidity - concept, measurement and policy implications
CGFS Publications No 45
November 2011


Global liquidity has become a key focus of international policy debates over recent years. This reflects the view that global liquidity and its drivers are of major importance for international financial stability. The concept of global liquidity, however continues to be used in a variety of ways and this ambiguity can lead to unfounded and potentially destabilising policy initiatives.

This report analyses global liquidity from a financial stability perspective, using two distinct liquidity concepts. One is official liquidity, which can be used to settle claims through monetary authorities and is ultimately provided by central banks. The other concept is private (or private sector) liquidity, which is created to a large degree through cross-border operations of banks and other financial institutions.

Understanding the determinants of private liquidity is of particular importance. As many financial institutions provide liquidity both domestically and in other countries, globally, private liquidity is linked to the dynamics of gross international capital flows, including cross-border banking or portfolio movements. This international component of liquidity can be a potential source of instability because of its own dynamics or because it amplifies cyclical movements in domestic financial conditions and intensifies domestic imbalances.

Policy responses to global liquidity call for a consistent framework that considers all phases of global liquidity cycles, countering both surges and shortages. Measures to prevent unsustainable booms in private liquidity are linked with micro- and macroprudential policies as well as the financial reform agenda. Country-specific or regional liquidity shocks, in turn, may effectively be addressed through self-insurance in the form of precautionary foreign exchange reserves holdings and existing arrangements which essentially redistribute liquidity. However, truly global liquidity shocks necessitate direct interventions in amounts large enough to break downward liquidity spirals. Only central banks have this ability.

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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Global systemically important banks: Assessment methodology and the additional loss absorbency requirement

Global systemically important banks (G-SIBs): Assessment methodology and the additional loss absorbency requirement
Nov 04, 2011

The rules text sets out the Basel Committee's framework on the assessment methodology for global systemic importance, the magnitude of additional loss absorbency that global systemically important banks (G-SIBs) should have and the arrangements by which the requirement will be phased in. The cover note to the rules text sets out the Committee's summary and evaluation of the public comments received on the July 2011 consultative document. The rules text was finalised following a careful review of the public comments received. The work of the Basel Committee forms part of a broader effort by the Financial Stability Board to reduce the moral hazard of global systemically important institutions.

The rationale for the policy measures set out in the rules text is to deal with the cross-border negative externalities created by G-SIBs which current regulatory policies do not fully address. The measures will enhance the going-concern loss absorbency of G-SIBs and reduce the probability of their failure. 

The assessment methodology for G-SIBs is based on an indicator-based approach and comprises five broad categories: size, interconnectedness, lack of readily available substitutes or financial institution infrastructure, global (cross-jurisdictional) activity and complexity.

The additional loss absorbency requirements will range from 1% to 2.5% Common Equity Tier 1 (CET1) depending on a bank's systemic importance with an empty bucket of 3.5% CET1 as a means to discourage banks from becoming even more systemically important.

The higher loss absorbency requirements will be introduced in parallel with the Basel III capital conservation and countercyclical buffers, ie between 1 January 2016 and year end 2018 becoming fully effective on 1 January 2019. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Some Root Causes of the Arab Revolution: Rising Literacy and a Shrinking Birth Rate (due to the first)

A Look at the Root Causes of the Arab Revolution. Spiegel interview with Emannuel Todd,1518,763537,00.html
May 20, 2011

Rising Literacy and a Shrinking Birth Rate


SPIEGEL: Aren't poverty or affluence also crucial? Tunisia, Syria, Egypt and Yemen don't have bubbling oil revenues.

Todd: Of course, one can placate the people with bread and money, but only for a while. Revolutions usually erupt during phases of cultural growth and economic downturn. For me, as a demographer, the key variable is not the per capita gross domestic product but the literacy rate. The British historian Lawrence Stone pointed out this relationship in his study of the English revolution in the 16th and 17th centuries. He saw the critical threshold at 40 to 60 percent.

SPIEGEL: Well, most young Arabs can now read and write, but how is the birth rate actually developing? The population in Arab countries is extremely young, with half of its citizens younger than 25.

Todd: Yes, but that's because the previous generation had so many children. In the meantime, however, the birth rate is falling dramatically in some cases. It has fallen by half in the Arab world in just one generation, from 7.5 children per woman in 1975 to 3.5 in 2005. The birth rate among female university graduates is just below 2.1, the level needed to maintain a population. Tunisia now has a birth rate similar to that of France. In Morocco, Algeria, Libya and Egypt, it has dropped below the magic threshold of three children per woman. This means that young adults constitute the majority of the population and, unlike their fathers and mothers, they can read and write, and they also practice contraception. But they suffer from unemployment and social frustration. It isn't surprising that unrest was inevitable in this part of world.


SPIEGEL: Why has it taken so long for the values of the modern age to reach the Islamic world? After all, the golden age of Arab civilization ended in the 13th century.

Todd: There is a simple explanation, which has the benefit of also being applicable to northern India and China, that is, to three completely differently religious communities: Islam, Hinduism and Confucianism. It has to do with the structure of the traditional family in these regions, with its debasement and with the disenfranchisement of women. And in Mesopotamia, for example, it extends well into the pre-Islamic world. Mohammed, the founder of Islam, granted women far more rights than they have had in most Arab societies to this day.

SPIEGEL: Does that mean that the Arabs conformed to older local circumstances and spread them across the entire Middle East?

Todd: Yes. The patrilinear, patrilocal system, in which only male succession is considered valid and newlyweds, preferably cousins in the ideal Arab marriage, live under the roof and authority of the father, inhibits all social progress. The disenfranchisement of women deprives them of the ability to raise their children in a progressive, dynamic fashion. Society calcifies and, in a sense, falls asleep. The powers of the individual cannot develop. The bourgeois achievement of marriage for love, and the free choice of one's partner, replaced the hierarchies of honor in Europe in the 19th century and reinforced the desire for freedom.

SPIEGEL: Is female emancipation the prerequisite for modernization in the Arab world?

Todd: It's in full swing. The headscarf debate is missing the point. The number of marriages between cousins is dropping just as spectacularly as the birth rate, thereby blasting away a barrier. The free individual or active citizen can enter the public arena. When more than 90 percent of young people can read and write and have a modicum of education, no traditional authoritarian regime will last for long. Have you noticed how many women are marching along in the protests? Even in Yemen, the most backward country in the Arab world, thousands of women were among the protesters.

SPIEGEL: The family is the private sphere par excellence. Why do changes in its structure necessarily spread to the political sphere?

Todd: The relationship between those at the top and those at the bottom is changing. When the authority of fathers begins to falter, political power generally collapses, as well. This is because the system of the patrilinear, endogamous extended family has been reproduced within the leadership of nations. The family patriarch as head of state places his sons and other male relatives in positions of power. Political dynasties develop, as in the case of the senior and junior Assad in Syria. Corruption flourishes because the clan runs things for its own benefit. The state is of course privatized as a family business. The power of obedience is based on a combination of loyalty, repression and political economics.

h/t ‘A Convergence of Civilizations’,

Francis Fukuyama said very much this same thing in 1999, The Great Disruption. I don't know if he did it independently.

University studies crowdsourcing for intelligence

University studies crowdsourcing for intelligence
Oct 18. 2011

Maybe you've got a hunch Kim Jong Il's regime in North Korea has seen its final days, or that the Ebola virus will re-emerge somewhere in the world in the next year.

Your educated guess may be just as good as an expert's opinion. Statistics have long shown that large crowds of average people frequently make better predictions about unknown events, when their disparate guesses are averaged out, than any individual scholar — a phenomenon known as the wisdom of crowds.

Now the nation's intelligence community, with the help of university researchers and regular folks around the country, is studying ways to harness and improve the wisdom of crowds. The research could one day arm policymakers with information gathered by some of the same methods that power Wikipedia and social media.

In a project that is part competition and part research study, George Mason professors Charles Twardy and Kathryn Laskey are assembling a team on the Internet of more than 500 forecasters who make educated guesses about a series of world events, on everything from disease outbreaks to agricultural trends to political patterns.

They are competing with four other teams led by professors at several universities. Each differs in its approach, but all are studying how crowdsourcing can be used.

At stake is grant money provided by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, part of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which heads up the nation's intelligence community.

Put simply, crowdsourcing occurs when a task is assigned to a wide audience rather than a specific expert or group of experts. The online encyclopedia Wikipedia is one of the most prominent examples — anyone can write or edit an entry. Over time, the crowds refine and improve the product. Crowdsourcing can range from a simple question blasted to a person's Twitter followers to amateur programmers fine-tuning open-source software.

IARPA spokeswoman Cherreka Montgomery said her project's goal is to develop methods to refine and improve on crowdsourcing in a way that would be useful to intelligence analysts.
"It's all about strengthening the capabilities of our intelligence analysts," Montgomery said.

And if analysts can use crowdsourcing to better determine the likelihood of seemingly unpredictable world events, those analysts can help policymakers be prepared and develop smarter responses. In a hypothetical example, a crowd-powered prediction about the breakout of popular uprisings in the Middle East could influence what goes in a dossier given to decision-makers at the highest levels.

The program at George Mason is called DAGGRE, short for Decomposition-based Aggregation. The researchers have used blog postings, Twitter and other means to get the word out about their project to potential participants. No specialized background is required, though a college degree is preferred.

The project seeks to break down various world events into their component parts. The stability of Kim Jong Il's regime in North Korea provides an example. One forecaster might base his prediction based solely on political factors. But what if the political experts could be guided by health experts, who might observe that Kim's medical condition is flagging?

The DAGGRE participants key their answers into forms on the project's website, and also supply information at the outset about their education and what areas they have expertise in. The scholars overseeing the project will then seek to break down the variables that influence a forecaster's prediction, and use the data in a way that people with disparate knowledge bases can help guide each other to the most accurate forecast.

Military and intelligence researchers have long studied ways to improve the ability to predict the future. In 2003, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency launched research to see whether a terrorist attack could be predicted by allowing speculative trading in a financial market, in which people would make money on a futures contract if they bet on a terrorist attack occurring within a designated time frame. The theory was that a spike in the market could serve as a trip wire that an attack was under way. But some found the idea ghoulish, and others objected to the notion that a terrorist could conceivably profit by carrying out an attack, and the research was halted.

Laskey said George Mason's research bears some fundamental similarities with the discontinued DARPA research, with the crucial difference that nobody participating in George Mason's project can profit from making accurate predictions. But participants who make accurate predictions are rewarded with a point system, and there is a leaderboard of sorts for participants to measure their success. Some can also choose to receive a small stipend for their time, but it's not tied to how they answer questions.

Another team, led by psychologists at the University of California and the University of Pennsylvania who are focused on asking questions in ways that minimize experts' overconfidence and misjudgment, said Don Moore, a professor at Cal-Berkeley.

"Small wording changes in a question can have a huge effect" on how a person answers, Moore said.

Twardy said the George Mason study has already drawn more than 500 participants, but only about half are actively participating. The study continues to recruit people as some participants drop out over the four-year course of the study.

Participants come from all walks of life. While Twardy said he'd love to have, say, agronomists, on his team to help forecast European polices and responses to mad cow diseases and the cattle trade, the overriding principle is that people from various backgrounds can contribute to the crowd's collective wisdom, so participation is not restricted by fields of expertise.

George Mason received a $2.2 million grant from IARPA to conduct the study. If the team remains in the competition for the full four years — weaker teams are at risk of being discontinued — the grant will be increased to $8.2 million.

Twardy expects to publish the results of his research and hopes it will ultimately help world leaders make more informed choices when they confront global crises.

"At some level, you cannot predict the future," Twardy said. "But you can do a lot better than just asking an expert."

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Towards Effective Macroprudential Policy Frameworks: An Assessment of Stylized Institutional Models

Towards Effective Macroprudential Policy Frameworks: An Assessment of Stylized Institutional Models. Authors: Nier, Erlend; Osinski, Jacek; Jácome, Luis Ignacio; Madrid, Pamela
IMF Working Paper No. 11/250
November 01, 2011 

Summary: A number of countries are reviewing their institutional arrangements for financial stability to support the development of a macroprudential policy function. In some cases, this involves a rethink of the appropriate institutional boundaries between central banks and financial regulatory agencies, or the setting up of dedicated policymaking committees. In others, efforts are underway to enhance cooperation within the existing institutional structure. Against this background, this paper provides basic guidance for the design of effective arrangements, in a manner that can provide a framework for country-specific advice. After reviewing briefly the main institutional elements of existing and emerging macroprudential policy frameworks across countries, the paper identifies stylized institutional models based on key features that distinguish institutional arrangements. It develops criteria to assess the effectiveness of models, examines the strengths and weaknesses of models against these criteria, and explores ways to improve existing setups. The paper finally distills lessons and sets out desired principles for effective macroprudential policy arrangements.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What drives the global land rush?

What drives the global land rush? Authors: Arezki, Rabah; Deininger, Klaus; Selod, Harris
IMF Working Paper No. 11/251

Summary: This paper studies the determinants of foreign land acquisition for large-scale agriculture. To do so, gravity models are estimated using data on bilateral investment relationships, together with newly constructed indicators of agro-ecological suitability in areas with low population density as well as indicators of land rights security. Results confirm the central role of agro-ecological potential as a pull factor. In contrast to the literature on foreign investment in general, the quality of the business climate is insignificant whereas weak land governance and tenure security for current users make countries more attractive for investors. Implications for policy are discussed.


After decades of stagnant or declining commodity prices when agriculture was considered a ‘sunset industry’, recent increases in the level and volatility of commodity prices and the resulting demand for land have taken many observers by surprise. This phenomenon has been accompanied by a rising interest in acquiring agricultural land by investors, including sovereign wealth and private equity funds, agricultural producers, and key players from the food and agri-business industry. Investors’ motivations include economic considerations, mistrust in markets and concern about political stability, or speculation on future demand for food and fiber, or future payment for environmental services including for carbon sequestration. Some stakeholders, including many host-country governments, welcome such investment as an opportunity to overcome decades of under-investment in the sector, create employment, and leapfrog and take advantage of recent technological development. Others denounce it as a ”land grab” (Zoomers 2010). They point to the irony of envisaging large exports of food from countries which in some cases depend on regular food aid. It is noted that specific projects’ speculative nature, questionable economic basis, or lack of consultation and compensation of local people calls for a global response (De Schutter 2011).  In a context of diametrically opposite perceptions, the objective of the present paper is to provide greater clarity on the numbers involved and the factors driving such investment. This is done by quantifying demand for land deals, and exploring the determinants of foreign land acquisition for large-scale agriculture using data on bilateral investment relationships. This work is an important first step to assess potential long-term impacts and discuss policy implications.

The analysis of large-scale land deals is relevant for a number of key development issues.  One such issue is the debate on the most appropriate structure of agricultural production. The exceptionally large poverty elasticity of growth in smallholder agriculture (de Janvry and Sadoulet 2010, Loayza and Raddatz 2010) that is reflected in rapid recent poverty reduction in Asian economies such as China, and the fact that the majority of poor are still located in rural areas led observers to highlight the importance of a smallholder structure for poverty reduction (Lipton 2009, World Bank 2007). At the same time, disillusion with the limited success of smallholder-based efforts to improve productivity in sub-Saharan Africa (Collier 2008) and apparent export competitiveness of “mega-farms” in Latin America or Eastern Europe during the 2007/8 global food crisis have led to renewed questions about whether, despite a mixed record, large scale agriculture can be a path out of poverty and to development.

Whatever the envisaged scenario, renewed pressure on land raises the issue of whether there is sufficient competition and transparency to ensure that land owners or users are able to either transfer their land at a fair price or hold on to it as opposed to having it taken away without their consent and in what may be perceived an unfair deal. This resonates with recent contributions to the literature that suggest that resource abundance can contribute to more broad-based development only if well-governed institutions to manage these resources exist (Oechslin 2010). This is borne out by empirical evidence both across countries (Cabrales and Hauk 2011) and within more specific country contexts where resource booms may have fuelled widespread rent-seeking and corruption (Bhattacharyya and Hodler 2010) or even violence (Angrist and Kugler 2008) rather than economic development.

To better understand this phenomenon and its potential impact, an empirical analysis of the factors driving transnational land acquisition is needed. To this end, we constructed a global database with country-level information on both foreign demand for land and implemented projects as documented in international and local press reports. We complement it with country-specific assessments of the amount of potentially suitable land and other relevant variables. We then use bilateral investment relationships from the database to estimate gravity models that can help identify determinants of foreign land acquisition. Results confirm the central role of agro-ecological potential as a pull factor but suggest that, in contrast to what is found for foreign investment more generally, rule of law and good governance have no effect on the number of land-related investment. Moreover, and counterintuitively, we find that countries where governance of the land sector and tenure security are weak have been most attractive for investors. This finding, which resonates with concerns articulated by parts of civil society, suggests that, to minimize the risk that such investments fail to produce benefits for local populations , the micro-level and project-based approach that has dominated the global debate so far will need to be complemented with an emphasis and determined action to improve land governance, transparency and global monitoring.  The paper is organized as follows. Section 2 puts recent land demand into broader context, highlighting the importance of governance in attracting investments. It draws on an analysis of how foreign direct investment (FDI) is treated in the macro-literature to suggest a methodological approach, and outlines how we address specific data needs. Section 3 presents our cross-sectional data on land demand, outlines the econometric approach, and briefly discusses relevant descriptive statistics. Key econometric results in section 4 support the importance of food import demand as motivations for countries to seek out land abroad (‘push factors’) and of agro-ecological suitability as key determinants for the choice of destination (‘pull factors’). They also highlight the extent to which weak land governance seems to encourage rather than discourage transnational demand for land. Section 5 concludes by highlighting a number of implications for policy.

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