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Most of the world’s poor lack a basic savings account, but the humble cell phone may change all that. Thanks to mobile finance, banks can now offer critical services to more people and in more places than ever before, helping them escape poverty for good.
Ten years ago, eight eastern European states joined the European Union, seemingly locking them onto an upward developmental trajectory. But now this supposed triumph is in serious doubt, as most those countries are experiencing profound political crises.
Last December, India's Supreme Court re-established a colonial era law prohibiting homosexual relations. That will mix poorly with an Indian society that has a long tradition of tolerance for sexual minorities.
The U.S. economy is grinding along, China is slowing, and Europe is stagnant. But the good news in the global economy is that a whole new crop of green shoots is springing up.
Once hidden behind high tariffs, quotas, subsidies, and hundreds of state-owned enterprises, Mexico’s economy is now one of the most open in the world. But the economic dividends of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s ambitious economic reform agenda have yet to appear.
South Korea is a rich, technologically advanced, mature democracy with an impressive record of innovation, economic reform, and sound leadership, so to call it an emerging market is a bit of an anachronism. But the country’s chief economic virtue, its openness, also subjects it to greater market volatility and risk than its fully developed counterparts.
Over the last 25 years, Poland has enjoyed peace, a booming economy, and integration with the rest of Europe. Behind that positive story lie smart economic reforms and the bond Poland formed with Europe’s leading economy, Germany.
With an impressive decade behind it and an important election ahead, Turkey’s biggest challenges are in the realm of domestic politics. As Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan flirts with authoritarian populism, the country teeters between continued growth and a reversion to the Middle Eastern mean.
Indonesia confronts a host of political challenges, and a crucial election in 2014 will determine whether it delivers on its promise or returns to stagnation. Meanwhile, the nearby Philippines, now an outsourcing powerhouse, has been racing ahead under the stewardship of President Benigno Aquino III.
The Southeast Asian countries that line the Mekong River -- Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam, along with China’s southern Yunnan Province -- are finally fending for themselves, and then some. As trade barriers fall and borders open up, the region’s growth depends on an improving transportation network and overdue political reforms.
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