Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

CGD in the News

The IMF and World Bank Are More Democratic Than They Look (Bloomberg Businessweek)


This weekend, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) had their spring meetings in Washington, D.C. As the black limousines stuffed with the world’s treasury officials queued in front of the Bank’s mirror-glassed facade with its spreadsheet-inspired frames, a small band of protestors chanted peacefully outside. Although a long way from the mass arrests of giant-puppet-wielding demonstrators from years past, the protests are a reminder of the swath of opinion that views the two global financial institutions as antidemocratic forces of capitalist evil.

The World Bank and IMF are far from models of transparency and egalitarianism, but they are pretty much the most democratic global institutions we have. And that reality underscores why we need considerable innovation in the governance of global institutions far beyond those based in Washington.

Sweden: The New Laboratory for a Six-Hour Work Day (The Atlantic)


In a 2012 article for Foreign Policy, Charles Kenny explored the complicated connections between output and work hours:

The bottom line is that productivity -- driven by technology and well-functioning markets -- drives wealth far more than hours worked. And very few jobs in developed economies nowadays are classic assembly-line positions, where working 20 percent longer will mechanically produce 20 percent more widgets. Psychology plays a role here too: At least 40 years of studies suggest that people work harder if you limit their time to complete a certain task. In some cases, working too hard can actually reduce output. Long working hours are also associated with ill health, which means lost labor in the long term, as well as higher medical costs for employers and government.

Straight Talk Africa: Power Africa Initiative (Voice of America)


“There is no silver bullet for promoting economic development. But what I think is very clear, and what I think the White House and the federal agencies have come to recognize through [the Power Africa] initiative, is that one of the major, and in many cases the number one, constraint on job growth [and] on economic development in Africa is a lack of affordable and reliable electricity. The data on business constraints is very clear: electricity is the number one constraint in most countries and, as we heard in the opening to the program, the lack of electricity has an effect on people’s health, on people’s education and on their livelihoods. I think it’s very important that the administration pull together all of these tools in a focused effort with specific targets to try to help alleviate this problem.”

“It is both immoral and impractical for us to try and fight climate change through putting restrictions on power projects in places like Sub-Saharan Africa. Just to give you a contrast, in U.S. we have more than 3,000 power plants that run on fossil fuels. Ghana, one of the countries in Power Africa, has two. Ghana would like to build a few more. We are not going to deal with climate change problems by constraining Ghana [from building] two, four, six, eight [plants] when we have thousands of plants online. So the source of the problem is with us, and the demand for energy sources is in Africa. And we need to be sure that we are allowing flexibility for people to do what people everywhere do, which is build the electricity and energy that they need to have modern economies.”

Defining Moments in Climate Change: Hope and Crisis in Copenhagen (The Guardian)


Michele de Nevers was attached to the World Bank delegation. She says the lack of an overarching agreement made setting a carbon price impossible. "Whether it was a high price or a low price didn't matter as much as the fact that there would be an agreement on what the reduction of emissions was going to be … which would make all of these carbon markets for climate finance kick in functionally."

De Nevers says the $100bn per year pledged for developing countries would have been "very easy to reach" had the world had a functioning carbon market. Instead the onus for fundraising has fallen on nation states. So far, the total pledged stands at $37.5bn, almost half of which comes from Japan.

Why Education Spending Doesn't Lead to Economic Growth (Bloomberg Businessweek)


It is college acceptance season, and letters with financial aid offers attached are dropping on doormats nationwide. Many students and an even greater number of parents are facing the sticker shock associated with tertiary education. As college prices rise—the average annual cost hit $18,497 in 2010-11, according to the National Center for Education Statistics—the question inevitably arises: Is it worth it? For the average student in the U.S. and worldwide, the answer is affirmative: Education remains a fantastic investment for individuals. The tougher question is whether education at all levels is such a great investment for societies as a whole.

EU Criticised for Failure to Transfer Technology (Sci Dev Net)


European countries contribute less to global technological development than other developed nations, and are pursuing intellectual property policies that are not “development friendly”, according to a study.

European nations conduct most of the world’s research and development (R&D) and own most of the globe’s intellectual property (IP) rights, and new policy measures are needed to make them contribute more to development, says the paper published by the US-based think-tank the Center for Global Development.


Petra Krylová, programme coordinator at the Center for Global Development, says: “We aim to increase the debate and hopefully arrive at some changes within either European or country-level legislation on technology.”

China Boosts World Bank Aid for Poorest in Bid for More Clout (Bloomberg)


“While they’re certainly not contributing on the scale of the large IDA donors, it’s nonetheless a large increase for them,” said Scott Morris, a former deputy assistant secretary for development finance and debt at the U.S. Treasury Department.

The commitments “demonstrate a desire to be viewed not just as a major borrower of the World Bank but as a major shareholder in the institution,” said Morris, now a visiting policy fellow at the Center for Global Development, an aid research group in Washington.

US Agency Shifts Approach to Global Poverty (Nature)


Some observers are worried that the pendulum at USAID may be swinging too quickly in the direction of research. Casey Dunning, a senior policy analyst at the Center for Global Development, a think tank in Washington DC, says that the wider development community may not have the scientific expertise to hold USAID to account for its spending. And Amanda Glassman, director of global health policy at the Center for Global Development, says that USAID has limited experience in identifying promising technologies. “I’m sceptical of a government agency’s capacity to pick a winner from a portfolio,” she says.

World Bank Shapes Overhaul Toward ‘Solutions Bank’ (Wall Street Journal)


Others are still optimistic. “There are a lot of balls in the air with this restructuring, and I think it’s too early to tell if they will all land successfully,” said Scott Morris, a senior associate at the Center for Global Development and former senior U.S. Treasury official.

“But judged on their individual merits, I think the reforms constitute a pretty compelling and even necessary package compared to the status quo,” he said.

The Paradox That Awaits A Prime Minister Modi (Financial Times)


In India’s forthcoming elections, a government led by Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata party is likely to assume power, and to do so without being too dependent on the support of regional leaders. A vote for Mr Modi will be a vote indicting the Congress-led government, which has overseen India’s most rapid growth: for presiding over epic corruption; emphasising handouts over opportunities; and squandering the opportunities created by the government itself and by easy global liquidity. But it will also reflect abhorrence of the power vacuum at the heart of the nation. Indians want the ditherers in Delhi replaced by the go-getter from Gujarat. How can he wield power to revive the economy, which is his priority?