Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

David Roodman's Microfinance Open Book Blog

Draft chapters, burning questions, useful sources.


More on the Definition of ODA: Proper Credit for Credits

CGD’s recent publication of my paper on improving the statistical definition of Official Development Assistance (ODA) brought me into contact with several people involved with the ongoing review of this issue. (For the history of that process see my previous post.) Those conversations have stimulated my thinking. They have also helped me appreciate that among the questions in play, the hottest is how to count loans in ODA—where “hot” is some blend of complicated and controversial.

I wrote about loans in my last post. But I focused on arguing against factoring the probability of default into the assessed financial value of a loan. Here, I’ll explain some other loan-related recommendations. In another post, I’ll talk about other questions.

The Crisis in Official Development Assistance (ODA) Statistics: Needed Revamp Would Lift Japan, Lower France

Not to be melodramatic, but the official system for counting foreign aid is in crisis. The longstanding mathematical rule determining whether a loan’s interest rate is low enough to qualify it as aid has gone out of sync with the times. The rule’s benchmark interest rate of 10% per year was reasonable when adopted in 1972, but not now. Today, wealthy governments can borrow below 3%, lend a couple percent higher, come in well under the 10% bar, and count the potentially profitable lending as aid.

I’m Going to Gates

Twenty-five years ago today, I walked into Building 1 of the Microsoft Corporation’s wooded campus in Redmond, WA, and reported for work as a programming intern. I had a pretty good time that summer. What I remember most is wondering whether I should buy a bit of stock in the company—and then spending all my earnings on long-distance calls to my new girlfriend.

A Concrete Abstract

Business training programs are a popular policy option to try to improve the performance of enterprises around the world. The last few years have seen rapid growth in the number of evaluations of these programs in developing countries. We undertake a critical review of these studies with the goal of synthesizing the emerging lessons and understanding the limitations of the existing research and the areas in which more work is needed. We find that there is substantial heterogeneity in the length, content, and types of firms participating in the training programs evaluated.