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45 minutes
First broadcast:
Saturday 14 May 2011

In well-run rich societies it’s something people take for granted: clean water out of a tap, rubbish collections and regular trains and buses. But the question is: Who does a better job of it? The public sector? Or the private? Professor Mildred Warner analysed a mountain of economic data, looking at how thousands of local governments supply water around the world.

The US and China seem to be making little headway on solving their economic disagreements. With me to offer his verdict on how to break the logjam is Economics professor Wing Thye Woo, who’s advised both the Chinese government and the US Treasury.

And a wake up call to business leaders in the Middle East, not to think that they can ignore the current turmoil there from one of the best known entrepreneurs in the region, Fadi Ghandour.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel: state and private hands fight over the soul of business in the midst of the Arab Spring.


4 items
  • Mildred Warner

    Mildred Warner

    When you turn on the tap for a glass of water, who provides that service for you? The local council? Or a private company? Who runs the local buses? And who collects the rubbish?

    Mildred Warner, professor at Cornell University has sifted through a lot of data which shows that a move by some countries to privatize local services hasn’t always turned out to be cheaper and more efficient.

  • Wing Thye Woo

    Wing Thye Woo

    The economic imbalance between the US and China has been in the news again lately and as usual one side is blaming the other for not doing enough to rebalance their respective economies. What’s the way out of this stalemate? Economics professor at UC Davis Wing Thye Woo says that a good starting point would be to recall what happened with the US – Japan imbalance a couple of decades ago.

  • Fadi Ghandour

    Fadi Ghandour

    The turmoil in the Middle East continues, and perhaps it’s not just a threat to governments. A leading Middle-Eastern entrepreneur, Fadi Ghandour of Jordan, tells us it’s time that local business leaders also woke up and smelled the Jasmine. And why the triple bottom line is just a starting point of what each company needs to do in order to make a better contribution to society.


    Cornell Professor Mildred Warner says that we should have a global minimum corporation tax in order to stop companies posting their earnings in tax havens to avoid paying tax.

    This would still allow some nations to offer such tax havens, but there would be a minimum global tax that corporations would have to pay regardless. The funds would go to the UN to invest in critical social and physical infrastructure.

  • In Next Week’s Programme:

    The changing human body with social historian Bernard Harris, geneticist Ross Hardison and choreographer Jasmin Vardimon.


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