Nina Merchant-Vega


Will Asia Fall Into an Energy Gap?

April 17, 2013


Last week, the Asian Development Bank released its annual “Asian Development Outlook” report for 2013, with Asia’s success story of unprecedented growth in the last decades forecast to grow by 6.6 percent in 2013 and 6.7 percent in 2014.


Networking Essential to Women Entrepreneurs in Asia

February 27, 2013


While many nations limped into the new year under the weight of somber economic forecasts, strong GDP predictions gave Asia a reason to ring in the Year of the Snake on a more positive note. This is certainly good news, but also consider this: over half of Asia’s population is women who, according to UN estimates…


Regional Integration: Asia’s New Frontier in 2013

January 9, 2013


Over the last several decades, Asia has become increasingly integrated with the rest of the world, its rapid development driven largely by exports to the United States and European Union. Yet, as the world’s main economic arteries shift eastward, intra-regional integration within Asia still lags behind.


APEC 2012: Overcoming Challenges to Women’s Entrepreneurship

September 5, 2012


On September 8-9, the heads of 21 Asia-Pacific economies will gather in Vladivostok, Russia, for the 2012 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting to adopt a final declaration outlining prospects for the development of the region. Among the topics that will be integrated into the discussion is how women can more fully participate in APEC economies to foster innovative growth. Earlier this year, APEC held the second Women and the Economy Forum in St. Petersburg, Russia, and released a follow-up statement urging government officials and business leaders to “recognize the crucial role that women play in innovative economic development…


At Davos, Will Asia Be Seen as the Solution to or the Victim of Global Economic Crisis?

January 25, 2012


From January 25-29, the world’s most powerful leaders from the public and private sectors gather in the Swiss town of Davos to try to agree on measures that will eventually impact billions of people across the world. The event is being held against an unprecedentedly gloomy global economic picture. The World Bank recently reported that the world economy will grow by only 2.5 percent in 2012, far below initial estimates of 3.6 percent. In Europe, leaders have yet to come up with a comprehensive solution to the eurozone crisis.


After a Year of Challenges, Asia Emerges Stronger than Ever

January 4, 2012


In 2011, Asia grappled with a host of devastating shocks, both natural and man-made. As challenging and economically harsh as they have been, they have provided an opportunity for Asia’s emerging economies to dramatically assert their economic resilience and regional influence.


Where are Bangladesh’s Businesswomen?

June 8, 2011


Since the 1980s, microfinance institutions in Bangladesh, such as the Grameen Bank, have touted the success of women microentrepreneurs in starting and operating thousands of microenterprises throughout the country. While this is certainly an achievement, Bangladeshi women have not achieved…


Realizing Malaysia’s Economic Potential

May 18, 2011


In a recently released report on Asia in 2050, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) predicted that seven Asian economies – China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, and Malaysia – would be the drivers of Asia’s rise over the coming decades and that the region…


Struggling with the Resource Curse

April 6, 2011


The “resource curse” in development is well known. Countries endowed with valuable natural resources –most notably oil, natural gas, minerals, and diamonds – often also suffer from poor governance, high poverty, and conflict. And, as recent events in the Middle East have reminded us, such countries are frequently authoritarian and highly repressive.


Malaysia’s Middle-Income Trap

January 26, 2011


Many first-time visitors to Kuala Lumpur are quickly impressed by the large highways, ultra-modern shopping malls and, of course, the twin Petronas Towers that dominate the city’s skyline. However, some do not realize just how impressive…


In 2011, Hard-Earned Resilience Will Carry Asia’s Economies through the Crisis

January 5, 2011


One year ago in this blog, Asia Foundation chief economist Bruce Tolentino expressed “cautious optimism” about the prospects for global recovery and Asian growth in 2010. His positive prediction for Asia was more than fulfilled, in spite of a dispiriting lag in U.S. recovery and severe economic crises in the Eurozone. Vietnam is expected to lead So… Read more


Can Greater Regional Economic Cooperation Unite ‘Two South Asias’?

January 5, 2011


South Asia has seen remarkable economic growth since the 1980s, when the region began to adopt pro-growth policies such as foreign investment liberalization, privatization, and the dismantling of onerous business regulations. Since the mid-1980s, South Asia experienced an average annual growth rate of 5.6 percent in its per capita Gross National In… Read more


Are Asia’s Capital Cities Victims of Their Own Success? A Look at Dhaka and Phnom Penh

October 6, 2010


In Bangladesh, where the 2010 Economic Governance Index – which measures and ranks business environments across 19 districts – was just released, the capital city of Dhaka did not perform among the top districts. Of course, in terms of business performance and investment, Dhaka remains Bangladesh’s single most important city. Bangladesh's capit… Read more


Supporting Business Development in Rural Bangladesh: Role of Reliable Information in Policy Reforms

August 4, 2010


Any casual observer walking through the heart of a district capital like Bangladesh’s northeastern city of Sylhet or Rangpur, further north, would be impressed by the bustling economic activity. In the early morning, streets are filled with colorful trucks honking their way toward the market place. Their paths are crossed by overloaded rickshaws de… Read more


Does Women’s Inequality Get Worse Before it Gets Better?

October 28, 2009


Photo: Rita Banerji, Flickr As a student of economics and a development practitioner, I had always assumed that economic development, measured by rising per capita incomes, implied greater gender equality. I had made this assumption because, as Figure 1 below illustrates, there is a strong positive linear relationship between per capita country GDP… Read more


India: A Place of Dreams

July 8, 2009


Recently, on an unbearably hot and steamy day walking down a traders lane in Mumbai, I found myself marveling at how much the country has truly transformed. As a first-generation Indian-American, I have been traveling to the country since I was child, and, while I have noticed the obvious economic changes taking place-the beautiful new Bangalore in… Read more


From Vietnam: Economic Competitiveness in the Provinces

July 23, 2008


On a recent afternoon in Hanoi, I found myself sitting in a crowded conference room sipping tea and munching snacks with a young team of researchers, sifting through stacks of completed surveys looking for small coding errors in the data. Anyone watching would have been hard pressed to imagine we were putting together one of the most highly-anticip… Read more