In my book, The Bottom Billion (2007), I argued that some 60 low-income countries, with a population of about a billion people, have missed out on the recent decades of global prosperity. But does their exclusion from growth mean that the worst of the economic crisis will pass them by too?
Sadly not. The countries at the bottom still suffer from what economists call “transmission shocks” from the west. These forces are not the same as those devastating our own economies. Poorer countries were never sufficiently creditworthy to benefit from substantial private credit: during the wild, late phase of irrational exuberance our bankers were only just preparing to begin lending to them, but few transactions were consummated. So what they never had, they are not going to miss. Nor did the web of global financial interconnectedness stretch to these banking systems. African banks are not stuffed with toxic assets and