Poverty, growth and baseless anger

The economics of misplaced anger

Fast growing Asian countries have “eliminated” poverty at an astonishing speed, bringing people out of extreme poverty into mere gut-reaching poverty.

At first blush, the numbers are suggesting of a hopeful future. In 1990, about a third of the people in the world lived on less than US$1.90 a day. By 2013, it was just 10.7%. In actual numbers, that is 1.85 billion in 1990 compared to 767 million in 2013. A second glance puts in perspective the anger of many people in the world, and not in a good way.
In 1990, the bulk of global extreme poverty was in Asia, the most populous region in the world. Now it is in Africa, the most troubled region in the world.

We wrote about this with my colleagues in a series of stories in China Daily Asia Weekly last month to mark International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, which falls on 17 October. The World Bank says the number of people living in extreme poverty is falling by 88 million per year.

Before we start celebrating, though, let’s go back to that US$1.90 a day, which adds up to US$57 for a 30 day month or a whopping US$693.50 a year. To meet the threshold, a family of four would have to earn US$2,774 per year or US$231 per month. It is hard to imagine any place in the world where that is anywhere near enough.

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Venezuela’s farcical medical device crisis

BOGOTA, Colombia. The government of Venezuela, which owes medical device companies around the world more than US$245 million, is now calling for the arrest of domestic device distributors.

In an impressive display of do-it-yourselfness President Nicolás Maduro himself led a daring raid into a warehouse full of medical devices, seized them all and swore: “as my name is Nicolás Maduro” the “bourgeois” that dared invest and trade in his country would find themselves in handcuffs.

Among the people in question is an older man who is in charge of the warehouses at Suministros Médicos Jayor (he is the father of the owner) and has been in Miami for four weeks recovering from a heart attack. The Venezuelan Association of Distributors of Medical, Odontological and Lab Devices the company has been in business for a quarter century.

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Vaccines are good

Vaccines are great. They are arguably one of the most important public health tools of the last century.

About 1,000 years ago, the Chinese came up with the first early inoculation process. Six centuries later, Europeans tried to develop one against smallpox. Today, they are in widespread use. Measles, mumps, chickenpox, yellow fever, typhoid fever and many other once crippling diseases are virtually non-issues in much of the developed world.

The value of vaccination, as a concept, is impossible to ignore.

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Latin America: The Forgotten Continent

The chaotic Latin American market is key to publications in a wide range of areas and is one that those with a focus on Asia often overlook. It is difficult to say why people in Asia are so focused on their own backyard, but they ignore an entire continent of some 700 million people that runs from Mexico to Tierra del Fuego, but they do.

There are opportunities there. There are opportunities to develop new markets, to sell more products, to find new ideas and to develop fruitful partnerships and relationships.

Over the past few months our work has taken us to Latin American markets with publications from the U.S. and Europe looking to expand their coverage there. What we have found is opportunities in markets that are often chaotic, frequently bureaucratic, not always law abiding but populated by educated workforces with creativity and drive.

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