Links for "developing countries in the multilateral trading system"? Anyone?
January 24, 2007 9:12 AM   Subscribe

The most useful, economics & developing countries in the multilateral trading system links for a web-based "interview"?

The place I want to work for has an intelligent recruitment procedure. On a given time and date, they email me a question related to "developing countries in the multilateral trading system" and exactly 5 hours later, I must send them back a short essay, footnoted and referenced. It's an open-book, "use whatever information you want", drafting and research type of test.

I hope I'll be able to secure a comfy place at my local economics library, but atm I'm looking for a bunch of very useful research portals, international-trade & developing-countries and WTO links that I can pre-load on firefox and keep in the background.

All help will be greatly appreciated, and maybe after the test results, if anyone wants, I think I could probably post the question and my essay. Thanks hivemind!
posted by ruelle to Work & Money (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Are you affiliated with or a graduate of a University? In the UK we have an on-line portal called Athens that provides access to several thousand academic journals.

If not currently enrolled or employed by a university sometimes you can get access by an alumni programme.

Access to a resource such as Athens would take your work to a much higher level as you're not simply performing an internet trawl, but including information from peer reviewed journals.
posted by Mutant at 11:13 AM on January 24, 2007

You may not agree with their politics, but World Bank and IMF have very good research and hard numbers that you may want to use.

But what a smart way to approach hiring. Can you give a hint to the organization?
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 12:55 PM on January 24, 2007

Best answer: I get work assignments kind of like that (mostly focused on the US and Asia, though) on a regular basis, so here are some sources that have worked well for me:

The WTO Trade Statistics and research reports are great. If you are at all comfortable with Excel and numbers, doing a nice chart or graph of stats to back up/illustrate your points or assertions can be extremely useful.

The same goes for the IMF World Economic Outlook Database, which has more macroeconomic data, and the World Bank's development indicators database.

Some other statistics and useful research documents are also available on the OECD site. If you are doing countries in Asia, then the ASEAN site could be good.

Although I usually don't end up using UN stuff, since I'm more focused generally on trade, the developing country site at the UN may be useful for background info, as could the UNCTAD.

I might also suggest that you look at some of the international think tanks that do research on these types of topics, like the Globalization Institute and others.

If you end up looking at a specific country in your research, don't forget to see if their equivalent to a Department of Commerce or Customs authority has stats and links to reports on that country's policies for multilateral/bilateral trade. Just be aware that not all national stats are created equal. Looking at official stats from China, for example, can be really frustrating.

From the US side, the Census Bureau, the International Trade Commission and the DoC Bureau of Economic Analysis all have great stats.

Sounds like a fun "interview". Good luck!
posted by gemmy at 1:02 PM on January 24, 2007

Best answer: Hey, I feel your pain.

The only thing I can remember off the top of my head is this directory of international econ/politics resources. Has all the think tanks, NGOs, and gov'tal/intergov'tal orgs and breaks it down by subject, so it may be helpful now or for a future assignment
posted by CAnneDC at 2:36 PM on January 24, 2007

Response by poster: Mutant: I'm afraid I don't have access to Athens...
RandlePatrickMcMurphy: It sure is a smart approach because it tests exactly what they want you to be good at: research and drafting within a strict deadline. But like all interviews, it's not perfect. For instance, a student with access to Athens would probably do better than one without. And sorry, no hints.
gemmy: THANK YOU! That's exactly what I had in mind.
CAnneDC: also THANK YOU! Same reason!

Bonus question if any of you check back:

Is there a trick in producing graphs or statistics in a mere 5 hours? I'm asking because gemmy and Co. makes it sound obvious and yet, in my humble experience, defining a model, looking for relevant data, transforming it to fit my model, running regressions, correcting for heteroscedasticity and other crap, etc, etc.. is an IMMENSLY time-consuming deal!!
Although I know my paper would "look better" with some data, is this really a viable option?
posted by ruelle at 5:44 AM on January 25, 2007

ruelle, the key to producing the stats quickly is practice. Graphs can be done quickly in Excel. For multiple regression I recommend MegaStat, which is a plugin for Excel (but I'm not sure if it's available over the web). If you already know what kind of data is available to you on UN/WTO sites, you know what kind of things you could model and what to avoid. I would stick to really simple models (presumably you aren't expected to come up with an original model for international trade here...) which map well to the data available to you. Keep an econometrics textbook by your side (Wooldridge's Intro Econometrics is great) — obviously this will be easier if you are in the library.
posted by matthewr at 1:46 PM on January 25, 2007

Yea, I second matthewr. Get familiar with the type of data available, and try to think creatively about how it might fit into your assignment.

Many of those sites offer the output of queries in Excel format to download, so all you have to do is some formatting (removing headers, etc.) to have a great dataset to work with. Even if they don't, you may be able to (depending on your Office version) export the data from a plain table on the page directly to Excel, by just right-clicking on the table.

Even if all you end up with is an illustrative chart that took you 10 minutes to put together (of trade imbalances, say), it still adds a little "oompf" to the paper (if you know what I mean)!

YW, and good luck!
posted by gemmy at 6:38 PM on January 25, 2007

Response by poster: Guys, thank you all for your help.

I just finished this gruelling test a few hours ago and I'm still mentally exhausted.
Five hours is a damn tight timeframe to research and write up a paper from scratch!
I handed mine in exactly three minutes before the deadline.
All in all, I'm pretty proud of my output.
Of course, rereading the paper, I now cringe at some obvious errors: a mal-cited author here, a typo there, a sentence I should have proof-read better, etc, etc..

One resource that really helped me was and their excellent Bridges Monthly reviews.

Also, having access to Athens would have speeded up my research phase, but then again it may have also distracted me from sticking to the outline and following the logic of my paper. I dunno.
I'll see in a few weeks whether the job liked what I wrote. (There were some honest moments during those bleak 5 hours where I thought I'll never hand it in..)
posted by ruelle at 10:23 AM on February 1, 2007

and maybe after the test results, if anyone wants, I think I could probably post the question and my essay

I would be interested in it, if it's possible to post it.
posted by matthewr at 10:26 AM on February 1, 2007

Response by poster: Sorry matthewr, but I think I will not post it - I hope you don't mind much. Mainly because I don't really need feedback (except from the job) and I don't see what posting my essay could possibly bring to me (except cringes some time down the line).

Otherwise, if you are keen to read up on the relations between the WTO and developing countries, I would recommend the latest Bridge report.
I like these reports so much that I'm reading all the back issues, especially the ones pre and post the Nov 1999 Seattle Ministerial... fascinating stuff!

Also, if you ever check back, thank you once again for your suggestions. :)
posted by ruelle at 3:07 PM on February 2, 2007

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