Examining Mongolia's Debt

Speaker of Parliament Z. Enkhbold recently provided another tweet worth examining in detail. He posted a graph showing "Total debt-to-GDP ratios in select countries." Mongolia was not one of the select countries in the graph, and the Speaker facetiously noted that "It seems we have no debt." At least I hope he was being facetious, because the truth is quite the opposite.

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Respecting Objectivity

When I began this blog a year ago, I had a basic idea in mind. I would attempt to write objectively about political, social, and business issues and to support my arguments with clear and verifiable evidence whenever possible. I would also aim to make learning about Mongolia rewarding not only for my readers but for me. I even went as far as developing a formal statement about the editorial standard for the blog:

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Friendliness is the Least of the Tourism Industry's Problems

Gobi RoadThe World Economic Forum (WEF) recently published its "The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2013," and you may have noticed, as I did, that the big story in the local news about the report was that Mongolia ranked in the bottom ten countries in terms of friendliness towards foreign visitors. What the, wha?! This is literally a place in which you can show up on an unfamiliar doorstep and expect to be treated to a cup of tea before you're even asked why you're there. One of the least friendly countries in the world? Preposterous! I had to look at the report for myself to see how WEF could have gone so terribly wrong. What I discovered was far more interesting and useful than the local news coverage of the report let on.

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Spending Money to Make Money in the Gobi

Khankhongor Taxis c. 2004The World Bank recently published a report analyzing public infrastructure investment in Mongolia (highlights here).1 The authors of the report argue that as the economy grows the challenge of scaling up the country's infrastructure in cost-effective and targeted ways will be a significant determinant in whether Mongolia avoids the dreaded "resource curse." Mongolia's current transport and energy systems are inadequate to meet present, let alone future, needs, dragging down productivity and pushing up costs in every sector of the economy. The report puts in words and graphs what is clearly visible in everyday life, that for a country with jaw-dropping GDP growth there is a serious infrastructure problem.

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Instant Analysis (Sort of): The OT Dispute

Instant analysis of the major news stories of the day is something I take for granted until it's not there. The last few days I have been craving substantive analysis of the Oyu Tolgoi (OT) shareholders meeting and the many side issues associated with the project, but it has only come in drips and drabs of information from many different sources. It is easier for me to get caught up on Jennifer Lawrence's stumble at the Oscars ceremony than the OT dispute. I may not be alone, so I thought a summary of the information I have gathered could offer some sustenance to others with the same craving.

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