BOOK REVIEW Selection

Rules on Paper, Rules in Practice: Reducing Discretion and Enforcing Laws in the Middle East and North Africa

by Edouard Aldahdah, Cristina Corduneanu-Huci, Gael Raballand, Ernest Sergenti, and Myriam Ababsa. World Bank.

 

The primary focus of this book is on a specific outcome of the rule of law: the practical enforcement of laws and policies, and the determinants of this enforcement, or lack thereof. Are there significant and persistent differences in implementation across countries? Why are some laws and policies more systematically enforced than others? Are “good” laws likely to be enacted, and if not, what stands in the way? These questions are answered using a theoretical framework and detailed empirical data and illustrate with case studies from Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan. Rule of Law is a theoretical concept social scientists use to describe a political order where laws are predictable and applied equally to all citizens, regardless of their political or economic influence. However, the drafting and implementation of laws and regulations compatible with principles of the Rule of Law depend on the incentives that lawmakers, implementing agencies, and ruling elites have. Realigning the incentive structures among key actors and organizations is therefore necessary to improve the chances for Rule-of-Law institutions to take root. Building the capacity of organizations without first changing institutional incentives is likely to lead to perverse outcomes, with the capacity ultimately channeled toward goals the reformers never envisioned. This book tells the story of how Rule of Law is applied in some countries in the Middle East and North Africa region. 

 

World Bank Reports

 

 

World Development Report 2016 : Digital Dividends

 

Digital technologies have spread rapidly in much of the world. Digital dividends—that is, the broader development benefits from using these technologies—have lagged behind. This report on Digital Dividends assembles the best available evidence on the Internet potential impact on economic growth, on equity, and on the efficiency of public service provision. The report analyzes what factors have allowed some governments, firms and households to benefit from the Internet, and identify the barriers that limit gains elsewhere.

 

 

Migration and Remittances Factbook 2016, World Bank, Third Edition. 

 

The Migration and Remittances Factbook 2016 attempts to present numbers and facts behind the stories of international migration and remittances, drawing on authoritative, publicly available data. It provides a snapshot of statistics on immigration, emigration, skilled emigration, and remittance flows for 210 countries and 15 regional and income groups. The Migration and Remittances Factbook 2016 updates the 2011 edition of the Factbook with additional data on bilateral migration and remittances and second generation diasporas, collected from various sources, including national censuses, labor force surveys, population registers, and other national sources.

 

 

World Development Indicators: 2016. World Bank.

 

The World Development Indicators (WDI) team aims to produce a curated set of indicators relevant to the changing needs of the development community. The new edition includes indicators to help measure the 169 targets of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - these build on the 8 goals and 18 targets of the Millennium Development Goals we focused on in previous editions, but are far wider in scope and far more ambitious. A complementary Sustainable Development Goals data dashboard provides an interactive presentation of the indicators we have in the WDI database that are related to each goal.

 

Making Politics Work for Development: Harnessing Transparency and Citizen Engagement

 

Too often, leaders fail to adopt and implement policies that they know are necessary for sustained economic development. Encumbered by adverse political incentives, they run the risk of losing office should they do the right thing. This book is about how to make politics work for economic development rather than against it. The confluence of transparency and political engagement can be a driving force for countries to transition toward better functioning public institutions. 

General Economics, Development Economics and Aid, Banking and Finance

 

 

Global Inequality: A New Approach for the Age of Globalization, by Branko Milanovic. Harvard University Press.

 

Global Inequality takes us back hundreds of years, and as far around the world as data allow, to show that inequality moves in cycles, fueled by war and disease, technological disruption, access to education, and redistribution. The recent surge of inequality in the West has been driven by the revolution in technology, just as the Industrial Revolution drove inequality 150 years ago. But even as inequality has soared within nations, it has fallen dramatically among nations, as middle-class incomes in China and India have drawn closer to the stagnating incomes of the middle classes in the developed world. A more open migration policy would reduce global inequality even further.

 

 

 

 

Why Save the Bankers? And Other Essays on Our Economic and Political Crisis, by Thomas Piketty. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

 

Why Save the Bankers? brings together selected columns, now translated and annotated, from the period book-ended by the September 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers and the Paris attacks of November 2015. In between, writing from the vantage point of his native France, Piketty brilliantly decodes the European sovereign debt crisis, an urgent struggle against the tyranny of markets that bears lessons for the world at large. And along the way, he weighs in on oligarchy in the United States, wonders whether debts actually need to be paid back, and discovers surprising lessons about inequality by examining the career of Steve Jobs.

 

 

 

The Only Game in Town: Central Bankers, Instability and Avoiding the Next Collapse, by Mohamed A. El-Erian, Random House.

 

In The Only Game in Town, El-Erian casts his gaze toward the future of the global economy and markets, outlining the choices we face both individually and collectively in an era of economic uncertainty and financial insecurity. Beginning with their response to the 2008 global crisis, El-Erian explains how and why our central banks became the critical policy actors—and, most important, why they cannot continue is this role alone. They saved the financial system from collapse in 2008 and a multiyear economic depression, but lack the tools to enable a return to high inclusive growth and durable financial stability. The time has come for a policy handoff, from a prolonged period of monetary policy experimentation to a strategy that better targets what ails economies and distorts the financial sector—before we stumble into another crisis.

 

 

Inequality: What Everyone Needs to Know, by James K. Galbraith

 

Inequality expert James K. Galbraith has compiled the latest economic research on inequality and explains his findings in a way that everyone can understand. He offers a comprehensive introduction to the study of economic inequality, including its philosophical and theoretical origins, the variety of concepts in wide use, empirical measures and their advantages and disadvantages, competing modern theories of the causes and effects of rising inequality in the United States and worldwide, and a range of policy measures.

 

 

 

 

 

Progress and Confusion: The State of Macroeconomic Policy,

by Olivier Blanchard, Raghuram Rajan, Kenneth Rogoff, and Lawrence H. Summers. The MIT Press.

 

What will economic policy look like once the global financial crisis is finally over? Will it resume the pre-crisis consensus, or will it be forced to contend with a post-crisis “new normal”? Have we made progress in addressing these issues, or does confusion remain? In April of 2015, the International Monetary Fund gathered leading economists, both academics and policymakers, to address the shape of future macroeconomic policy. This book is the result, with prominent figures—including Ben Bernanke, Lawrence Summers, and Paul Volcker—offering essays that address topics that range from the measurement of systemic risk to foreign exchange intervention.

 

 

The Pursuit of Development: Economic Growth, Social Change and Ideas

by  Ian Goldin, Oxford University Press.

 

This is a concise account of what development means and how it can be achieved. The book identifies how our understanding of development has changed as the pendulum has swung from arguments for state-led development to a preoccupation with market forces. It examines the role of governments, international institutions, business and civil society, and explores how the notion of development itself has evolved from a preoccupation with incomes and economic growth to a much broader understanding of development.

Middle East and North Africa

 

 

The Morning They Came for Us: Dispatches from Syria, by Janine Di Giovanni. Liveright.

 

The Morning They Came for Us bears witness to one of the most brutal, internecine conflicts in recent history. Drawing from years of experience covering Syria, di Giovanni gives a tour de force of war reportage, all told through the perspective of ordinary people―among them a doctor, a nun, a musician, and a student. What emerges is an extraordinary picture of the devastating human consequences of armed conflict, one that charts an apocalyptic but at times tender story of life in a jihadist war zone.

 

 

 

 

 

Unfinished Revolutions: Yemen, Libya, and Tunisia after the Arab Spring, by Ibrahim Fraihat. Yale University Press.

 

Post-revolution states often find that once a transition process begins, challenges can arise, such as political polarization and the threat of civil war. A respected commentator on Middle Eastern politics, Ibrahim Fraihat compares three countries grappling with political transitions in the wake of the Arab Spring: Yemen, Libya, and Tunisia. He argues that to attain enduring peace and stability, post-revolution states must engage in inclusive national reconciliation processes which include a national dialogue, a truth seeking effort, the reparation of victims’ past injuries, dealing with the former regime, and institutional reform. Women, civil society, and tribes, among other social forces, can support the transition process. His research shows how some aspects of transitions have been politicized and that each country has taken a specific approach, raising or diminishing the chances of civil war or a healthy transition.

 

 

Uneven Odds, Unequal Outcomes: Inequality of Opportunity in the Arab Region, by Nandini Krishnan, Gabriel Lara Ibarra , Ambar Narayan , Sailesh Tiwari, and Tara Vishwanath.

 

Perceptions of eroding living standards and low life satisfaction are widespread in the Middle East and North Africa region today, along with pessimism about prospects for economic mobility. Conventional measures of economic well-being offer little in the way of explanation. In most countries in the region, extreme poverty is low and declining and economic inequality is lower than in other parts of the world.

 

 

 

 

Circling the Square: Stories from the Egyptian Revolution, by Wendell Steavenson. Ecco.

 

Circling the Square is the extraordinary story of the recent Egyptian Revolution as experienced by Cairo’s citizens. Steavenson takes us to the heart of the Revolution and paints indelible portraits of ordinary Egyptians grappling with hope and change amid violence and bloodshed. He captures the cacophony of dizzying events as violence and elections ebbed and flowed around the revolution, tipping it towards democracy and then back into the military’s hands. Mixing reportage and memoir, anecdotes and incidents and conversations, he shows how the particular and the personal can illuminate more universal questions: What does democracy mean and what happens when a revolution throws everything up in the air?

 

 

 

The Reawakening of the Arab World: Challenge and Change in the Aftermath of the Arab Spring, by Samir Amin. Monthly Review Press.

 

 

Al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and the Global Jihadist Movement: What Everyone Needs to Know, by Daniel Byman. Oxford University Press.

 

 

A History of the Modern Middle East: Rulers, Rebels, and Rogues, by Betty Anderson. Stanford University Press.

 

 

Breaking the Oil Spell: The Gulf Falcons’ Path to Diversification, by Reda Cherif, Fuad Hasanov, and Min Zhu. IMF.

 

 

A Rage for Order: The Middle East in Turmoil from Tahrir Square to ISIS, by Robert F. Worth. Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

 

 

Egypt: Contested Revolution, by Philip Marfleet. Pluto Press.

 

             

Governance, Civil Society and Participation

 

 

Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security, by Sarah Chayes. Norton.

 

The world is blowing up. Every day a new blaze seems to ignite: the bloody implosion of Iraq and Syria; the East-West standoff in Ukraine; abducted schoolgirls in Nigeria. Is there some thread tying these frightening international security crises together? In a riveting account that weaves history with fast-moving reportage and insider accounts from the Afghanistan war, Sarah Chayes identifies the unexpected link: corruption.

Through deep archival research, Chayes reveals that canonical political thinkers such as John Locke and Machiavelli, as well as the great medieval Islamic statesman Nizam al-Mulk, all named corruption as a threat to the realm. In a thrilling argument connecting the Protestant Reformation to the Arab Spring, Thieves of State presents a powerful new way to understand global extremism. And it makes a compelling case that we must confront corruption, for it is a cause—not a result—of global instability.

 

 

Public Access to Information for Development: A Guide to the Effective Implementation of Right to Information Laws by Victoria L. Lemieux and Stephanie E. Trapnell, Directions in Development Series. World Bank.

 

With more than 100 right to information (RTI) laws (also called freedom of information or access to information laws) now in place globally, there is a distinct need to ensure that laws are implemented effectively. This guide, published by the World Bank in 2016, explores the historical development of RTI laws, the factors that drive passage and effective implementation of these laws, the operation of the laws, and the impact of these laws in different country contexts and sectors. Also included is a discussion of sequencing reforms and specific operational and monitoring issues within the public sector. It is based on two years of research studying how RTI has been implemented in countries in different regions and with varying income levels. The research aimed to develop a theoretical framework to identify the drivers of effective implementation of RTI laws and to support the measurement of effective implementation.

 

 

IMF Staff Discussion Note - Corruption: Costs and Mitigating Strategies

 

In an environment in which growth and employment prospects in many countries remain subdued and a number of high-profile corruption cases have fueled moral outrage, and amid a growing consensus that corruption can seriously undermine a country’s ability to deliver inclusive economic growth in a number of different areas, addressing corruption globally—in both developed and developing countries—has become increasingly urgent. When corruption impairs government functions, it can adversely affect a number of important determinants of economic performance, including macrofinancial stability, investment, human capital accumulation, and total factor productivity.

 

 

Transformation Index BTI 2016:Political Management in International Comparison

 

Managing the peaceful transition of authoritarian states to democracy and a market-economic system represents a tremendous challenge. Whether it comes to reconstituting the coherency of the state following armed conflict, expanding participation rights and the rule of law in emerging democracies, overcoming corrupt structures, fighting poverty and inequality, or establishing clear rules for stable market-economic competition, the requirements are enormous, and the pressure on responsible leaders is intense. After all, the quality of political management makes an essential contribution to the success or failure of transformation processes.

 

 

 

Governance, Natural Resources and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding,

6/e, by Carl Bruch, Carroll Muffett, and Sandra S. Nichols. Routledge.

 

 

Corruption in Public Administration

An Ethnographic Approach

Edited by Davide Torsello.

Despite the growth in literature on political corruption, contributions from field research are still exiguous. This book provides a timely and much needed addition to current research, bridging the gap and providing an innovative approach to the study of corruption and integrity in public administration.

 

 

Is Decentralization Good for Development? Perspectives from Academics and Policy Makers.

Edited by Jean-Paul Faguet and Carol Poschl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sin Tax Reform in the Philippines: Transforming Public Finance, Health, and Governance for More Inclusive Development

by Kai Kaiser, Caryn Bredenkamp, Roberto Iglesias