Political risk services and political risk yearbook

Political risk services and political risk yearbook

Reviews 186 The report’s structure is based on the three overriding principles that guided the panel’s work: democratic accountability, constitution...

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Reviews

186

The report’s structure is based on the three overriding principles that guided the panel’s work: democratic accountability, constitutional empowerment, and individual autonomy. Recommendations are made in six areas: data subjects, data users, legislation, statistical data for organizations, and managing confidentiality and data functions. Recommendations are conveniently presented in the text within the context of the matters to which they relate; they are then listed separately as a body at the end of the volume. As background, brief historical overview of the development of census collecting apparatus from the nation’s beginning to the present is provided, as is a synoptic discussion of earlier studies dating from the 1970s relevant to privacy, confidentiality, and data access. The mind-set of the panel is clearly that statistical data is beneficial to the public and, therefore, there should be an expansion of the availability and use of statistical data by federal agencies as well as nongovernmental entities. The panel is of the opinion that federal agencies should have increased opportunities to share personal data for purposes of statistical or research person, so long as record confidentiality can be protected (recommendation 4.1). It is recognized, however, that a structure for such assurance does not now exist and that appropriate provisions will need to be made in regulations and statutes that govern the activities of federal agencies collecting or using statistical data (recommendation 5.1). Legal sanctions are recommended for external users or federal agency employees who might violate requirements for the maintenance of data confidentiality. Conversely, a problem exists in providing federal agencies with the legislative protection that they will need to deal with the inevitable requests or demands by government, courts, and citizens for individually identifiable data for nonstatistical purposes. There is considerable discussion of the need to inform data providers adequately about the conditions under which they are providing information (recommendation 3). The panel’s concern is that declining cooperation or response to surveys will erode the integrity of data available. A list of basic information that should be given to any participant in a survey is offered (recommendation 3.2). While it is difficult to quibble with the appropriateness of the panel’s recommendation in this area, one cannot help but question its practicality. The seven points that are offered will unlikely be read, even by the most willing of respondents, nor are they likely to be consistently presented orally by interviewers in the field-fully informed consent will continue to remain an elusive goal. In the final chapter, “Managing Confidentiality and Data Functions,” models used to grapple with these issues in Sweden, the Federal Republic of Germany, and Canada are discussed. There is an overview of recent efforts to create an independent privacy protection board for the United States and the committee explicitly recommends that such an agency be formed (recommendation 8.5). It, however, stops short of recommending muscle for such an agency. It is unlikely that such an agency would be effective in overcoming bureaucratic resistance without powers to audit and subpoena. Private Lives and Public Policies: Conjdentiality and Accessibility ofGovernment Statistics is the product of methodical and thoughtful discussion and capable research done by the panel; it includes commissioned essays by experts on various topics of relevance. This is by no means the final word on the subject of privacy as it relates to government information. It is, however, an important contribution to the continuing debate and search for adequate programs, processes, and safeguards. Answers are made increasingly difficult by government’s and society’s insatiable hunger for quantifiable information combined with constantly improving technologies, which advance the possibilities and potential for both secrecy and intrusion. BRUCE MORTON Montana State University Libraries Bozeman, MT 59717-0332 USA

Political

Risk Services

and Political

Edited William D. Coplin and Michael K. 1994. 7 ~01s. $5,570.00 commercial subscribers (to

Risk Yearbook.

O’Leary. Syracuse, NY: Political Risk Services, the Services), $750.00 (to the Yearbook).

The end of the cold war has witnessed an increase in international cooperation and the breaking down of global barriers, especially in the area of business and economic cooperation. As old structures collapse, countries are looking for new market and investment opportunities and new

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alliances are being formed. We are witnessing the creation of a global economy in which most world entities are actively interconnected. International treaties like GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) and NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) are proof of the importance of economic collaboration among the countries of the world. While the collapse of the Soviet Union and the communist trading bloc represent the most dramatic example of the changes that have occurred in the past decade, other regions of the world, such as Latin America and Asia, have also been undergoing a tremendous transformation toward democracy and market economies. This change is making it easier and more profitable for American companies to expand their markets abroad and to continue being active participants in the global economy. The new markets also present risks. Regimes can be unstable and their business and economic infrastructure underdeveloped; inflation can be high; and despite recent trends in trade liberalization, many governments are still inclined heavily toward protecting their national industries. Companies wishing to invest abroad need to take into account a large number of factors-political, financial, and economic-in order to assess the risk of operating in a foreign country. Polirical Risk Seruices offers an in-depth analysis of political, economic, and social events on 100 countries identified as “key” in the international arena. The service began in 1979. It was started by two professors from Syracuse University, William D. Coplin and Michael K. O’Leary, who also act as its directors. According to the promotional information sent out by the company, over 250 experts from academe, business, and government write the reports. The editors state their satisfaction at being able to bridge the gap between academic analysis and the practical world of politics and economics. It achieves this goal quite well. The risk reports are issued by region and are divided into seven volumes: North and Central America; Middle East and North Africa; South America; Sub-Saharan Africa; Asia and the Pacific; Europe: Countries of the European Community; and Europe: Outside the European Community. There are two kinds of reports: executive reports and the more extensive country reports. Both kinds of reports contain an executive summary, a general briefing, and a five-year political and economic forecast. The executive summary contains political and economic forecasts as well as social data. The genera1 briefing is a geographic and historical sketch, including international relations, social and economic conditions, and the general climate for business. In addition, the country reports, which average 50 pages, contain sections on the major political actors (parties and politicians) and an 18-month forecast. There are 34 executive reports and 66 country reports. The information is gathered from a multitude of primary sources, synthesized, and presented in an easy to use format. The data are then summarized in the PRINCE risk model, based on Coplin and O’Leary’s extensive work in risk assessment. The model provides risk rankings for each country and addresses the risk of terrorism, the stability of the government, and the financial and investment climates, as well as likely scenarios for the future. In general, three scenarios are described, ranging from most likely to least likely. Business conditions are examined under each of the three scenarios. The reports are straightforward and direct. The negatives as well as the positives are presented candidly, a characteristic that increases both the credibility and the usefulness of the reports. In order to assure objectivity, each report is checked against bias by Coplin and O’Leary. The result is a collection of well-balanced, informative, and well-written essays. The statistics, charts, and comparison tables complete the picture. There are two packages available from Political Risk Services. One, which carries the same title as the company, is intended for corporations and provides quite a large assortment of services. The other option, entitled Political Risk Yeurbook is designed for libraries. There is a significant price differential: The Politicul Risk Services costs $5,750 per year, while a subscription to the Yearbook is $750 per year. The publisher will also sell the service to libraries for the same cost that it charges corporations. The two packages are described below. Political Risk Services consists of the seven core volumes, which are updated as needed throughout the year. Each year, a new report is issued for every country. In addition, subscribers to the Risk Service receive the following publications and services: a volume entitled Country Forecasts, which summarizes the updated versions of all the country and executive reports and is issued semiannually; a 14-page monthly newsletter with the latest information on approximately 10 countries and charts ranking all 100 countries; free consultations with the directors or one of the contributors (an unlimited number of 15-minute phone calls); and an annual conference. The conference makes it possible to meet the specialists who write the articles, as well as network with colleagues from around the world. The Political Risk Yearbook is a great resource for academic libraries. The Yearbook consists of the seven core volumes. The information is compiled in December of every year. It does not include

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the update services, the newsletter, the consultation opportunities, or the free conference. The library subscription rate is $750 for the entire set, or $1,000 for a one-time purchase. Alternately, individual volumes can be purchased by libraries for $250 each. It is fortunate that the publishers are aware of the financial limitations of higher education institutions in general and of libraries in particular. The easy format and the vast amount of information all collected in one convenient publication is ideal for students. The company also publishes a volume entitled Internationul Country Risk Guide, which gives succinct financial, economic, and political risk forecasts and ratings for 130 countries. This monthly publication, produced in Great Britain, provides a European perspective on the world. It is priced at $2,995 for corporations and $1,500 for libraries. Subscribers to the World Services received a 40 percent discount. One of the most important traits of the work is its ability to summarize intelligently. One does not have to be an expert on a country in order to understand its concise historical sketch or the analysis of the current social and economic conditions. At the same time the articles provide valuable information for the subject specialist. For those subscribing to the Service, the updates will prove invaluable. For academic institutions the breadth of coverage and the ease of use will prove very attractive. This is a quality product that delivers accurate and practical information to its users in a convenient format. SEVER BORDEIANU General Library University of New Mexico Albuquerque, NM 87 131 USA

Agenda

21: Abstracts,

Reviews

IDRC Books, 1993. 321 p. IDRC6888). $35.00.

and Commentaries.

ISBN

Edited by Theodora O-88936-688-8. (Available from

Carroll-Foster. Ottawa: UNIPUB: Order No.

The purpose of this publication is to provide a succinct analysis of the 600-page global action plan for sustainable and equitable development-Agenda 21-resulting from the 1992 United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development in Rio and to suggest the possible role of Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in implementing the proposals. The IDRC embarked on this analysis as a result of being mandated as one of the major Canadian agencies to implement Agenda 21. The first step taken was to “develop and strengthen strategic partnerships dedicated to working together to improve the quality of life .” (p. 6). This document was an integral part of that process. In many ways its analysis resembles an in-house document that has been sanitized for public scrutiny. It assesses the strengths, gaps, and deficiencies as well as explores what research would need to be done to implement the recommended programs. In 1992, IDRC’s mandate was broadened to emphasize the environment and sustainable development. In June 1993, the IDRC’s president announced that IDRC will channel one-half of its current funding toward the research agenda outlined in Agenda 21. Agenda 21 consists of the following: First, for each of the 40 different topics or sectors of the parent document, there is a review of each chapter delineating the key conclusions in the chapters, any perceived omissions, a critique on the chapter’s design and content, explicit and implicit research proposals that might be inferred, the particular explicit role for IDRC, and recommendations on necessary IDRC action. Second, each section contains an analytical abstract of the review; it summarizes the key conclusions, the research/implementation possibilities, and on-going or new partnerships for IDRC, and suggests niches for IDRC. Finally, for 28 of the chapters a peer-reuielta commentary on both the abstract and the review deals with both major and minor points of agreement or disagreement. Each of these signed endeavors is in an outline form, which, with the legible typeface and layout, makes for easy and quick access. A few chapters include a short bibliography as an appendix to the chapter. Chapter 6 “Protection and Promotion of Human Health,” includes an appendix listing cross-cutting issues that are not adequately reflected in the original, but that are deemed necessary as a focus for IDRC approaches. A valuable addition to this publication are the