Thursday, August 13, 2009

Preventing food crisis

Anticipating and responding to a global crisis on any public issue remains a major challenge, one that defies strait-jacketed, off-the shelf solutions that can be administered across contexts with a reasonable degree of certainty about their success. Policy makers can only apply a whole menu of policy choices to respond to such crises, and at best discriminate and prioritize among them, based on the specific circumstances and needs.

In a Vox article, José Cuesta defines four desirable characteristics of policy intervention alternatives during a food crisis - broad coverage or, if targeted, effective transfers to the poorest sectors; low fiscal costs; low levels of distortion and generation of positive incentives; easily reversible after completing their mission.

The article finds that different program components have variable impacts on different societies in preventing food crisis.

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