Inspired Economist: Pick of the Week

This column highlights the top economic stories of the week.

Shell has announced that a new service station in Ottawa, Ontario will quietly begin selling cellulosic ethanol blended into regular gasoline. The biofuel is made locally from wheat straw, and is the first time cellulosic ethanol has been made publicly available. More on this story here.

In 2009 it is expected that 1 billion cell phones will be sold worldwide.  Asia Pacific will increase its uptake from 1 in 4 to 1 in 3.  The New York Times recently reported that India adds more cellphone connections than any place in the world with 15.6 million added in March alone. More how cell phones are becoming a platform for social innovation in emerging markets here.

Global governments are piling up their debt. Economists at the IMF, say that by 2010 the gross public debt of the ten richest countries attending the summits of the G20 club of big economies will reach 106% of GDP, up from 78% in 2007. That translates into more than $9 trillion of extra debt in three years.

Almost as an answer to this, global financial leaders are starting to examine how they’ll unwind their emergency spending packages and bank rescues.  More on this story here.

The leaders of the BRIC countires: Brazil, Russia, India and China, will gather for their first official summit in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Tuesday June 16th. China and India both show promise of growth despite the global downturn, and although Brazil is in recession many expect it to recover soon. Russia has been more significantly affected than the other three.  The universal question is will they come up with an alternative to the US dollar? Let’s see what comes of their discussions.