Usually, I look at development issues as a glass half-full. I’m an optimist by nature and thankful to be working on a topic like economic development where there has been so much progress over so short a period.
But this week, I also wanted to highlight two major obstacles and challenges that are generating headwinds for developing countries: the evolving shapes of democracy and globalization in practice.
In the headlines in Washington this week is the issue of cyber-surveillance through everyday consumer products. Technology, of course, is one of the great drivers of progress, so it is sober to consider its downsides. The Scientific American piece “Will Democracy Survive Big Data and Artificial Intelligence?” offers much food for thought.
Another obstacle is the uncertain path of globalization. An unabashedly pro-trade article summarizes the win-win proposition commonly espoused by economists as it relates to the specific case of United States-Mexico ties. Any backtracking on globalization would reverse these processes. The key takeaway: the gains from trade are largely felt by non-traded sectors as higher real incomes that accrue due to trade are spent on non-traded services (mostly). The converse is also true.
For those of you with a Financial Times subscription, an article by Martin Wolf, entitled “India faces another tryst with destiny” (a reference to Nehru’s independence speech in 1947) describes how democracy and globalization apply to India’s prospects.