Friday, April 25, 2008

Where We Stand

I have been doing some research on Millennium Challenge Corporation, a U.S. government owned corporation that allocates development money to a bunch of countries around the world. I fully expected Egypt to be on their list of countries, but it was not. I thought maybe that Egypt (again my only source of information now is Egyptian media) is well beyond the development stage that calls for such petty aid!
Until I saw this page which has their criteria for assigning aid to the countries. It had different metrics, each relying on ratings by independent institutions, and I was, to say the least, appalled. Not because I thought that we were really well developed already, but because of the extent to which we are not.
Here is a run down of some of those indicators:

  1. Civil Liberties and Political Rights: You don't need to be a genius to figure out that these are not our strongest points. But to be categorized behind Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Sierra Leone (with all due respect to them of course) is shocking. Freedom House.
  2. Governess Matters: We score consistently below the 50th percentile (meaning that in every single indicator, including rule of law, at least half the countries in the world are doing better than us) and it is getting worse with time. World Bank Institute.
  3. Inflation. My favorite topic for now. I didn't even bother to look up the data sources. Our Central Bank says it's 15.8%!!!
  4. Economic Freedom. We're the 127th in the world. Financial freedom is 30%! Heritage Foundation.
You can look through the indicators' page for a list of all other indicators.
I suspect that there is nothing there that everybody didn't know in a sort of intuitive sense, but the comparison with some countries which we always considered as way behind us in terms of development is stark to say the least.