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About this Blog

I write about some ideas, findings, current events and initiatives on Governance, Corruption and Capture, around the world.  Since I also like arts, music and sports, I also contribute some thoughts on the links between these interests and governance.  Mostly I write in english, but from time to time I post an entry in spanish as well (a veces escribo en castellano…).

Until a year ago, sustained improvements in global economic trends had taken place over a decade or so.  We had witnessed relative macro-economic stability, robust short-term growth, and overall gains in health, infrastructure and technology.  But this was in contrast with the quality of governance around the globe, which had not kept apace.

Granted, the evidence shows that some improvements in governance and in controlling corruption had taken hold in a number of countries, suggesting that leadership, political will and civil society can make a difference.  Yet other countries experienced a deterioration.  And many others continued to muddle along.  Corruption and misgovernance is still rife in many countries.  Their citizens are mired in poverty, often living amidst a tiny rich elite.

Now we are in a global economic downturn.  For too long we ignored the global consequences of misgovernance, and even months into the current global financial crisis there was the pretense that its antecedents were due to technical regulatory glitches, or sheer ignorance.

Such illusion is over.  No longer we can afford ignoring the stark reality: problems with governance, capture and corruption did play a role in the determinants of the global financial crisis.  Further, the consequences of the crisis itself, in terms of the emerging new world reality in general, and a different role for government, in particular, do pose major new challenges in the areas of governance, corruption and capture.

Looking back, the good news are that over the past decade our understanding of governance has progressed.  Empirical analysis undertaken over the past decade given insights and some answers about the causes, costs and consequences of what sets good governance and integrity apart from misgovernance and corruption.  We have learnt something about the links between governance, capture, and corruption, on the one hand, and progress on the economic, social, and human rights dimensions, on the other.

The not-so-good news are two fold.  One is that what we have learnt so far is often conveniently ignored when it comes to putting it into practice, because of political constraints and vested interests.  Among the international community, for instance, often there is a failure to acknowledge, let alone address head on, high level political corruption.

The second challenge is that our understanding of governance and anti-corruption reforms that work, and their context, is still incomplete — even if we have learnt a bit.  Crucial questions remain unanswered and open to vigorous debate.

For instance, further applied research and innovation is still needed on:

How do we make sense of the vast and disparate amount of data on governance that exists nowadays?  What are the limits of what can be concluded from the existing data and indicators, and what cannot be inferred?

Why have countries around the globe fared so differently on governance?  Why rapid change takes place in some settings, contrasting many others?  Why clouds in the horizon can transform themselves into a full fledged crisis literally overnight?

What does it mean that ‘governance matters’, and what in particular does matter?

What are the lessons for improving the effectiveness of donor aid to developing countries?

Why so many countries that now hold elections do not yet have a free press?

What are the main governance lessons and implications from the global financial crisis that started in the US?

Lessons from a number of countries are emerging from country experiences, and from rigorous research and evaluation.  But the extent to which they can be replicated in different countries and contexts remains open to debate.  In this spirit, this governance blog tries to bring up difficult issues for discussion.  I would like to provide an open and participatory space to share findings, views, innovations, data, and for debating issues of governance and corruption around the globe.  All are welcomed to contribute.

I live in the United States, and am a native and citizen of Chile, a country that has been successfully developing in recent decades, and where attention has been paid to good governance.  I take the liberty to emphasize the importance of good governance ‘around the globe’, because of the conviction–and evidence–that improved governance by rich country governments and multinationals, alongside improving governance in developing countries, are of paramount importance for sustained growth, stability and security.  Now more than ever, this ought to be a collective global endeavor.