$50 Billion and Three Lessons from Development Finance CEOs

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Last week, AEI, CSIS, and CGD hosted a terrific forum with the heads of the British, German, Norwegian, and American development finance institutions (DFIs). It was billed as “$50 billion in one room,” a reference to the vast amounts of capital that these organizations bring to the table for development. Here’s what I took away from the session.

Traffic Lights Could Help OPIC Balance its Three Competing Policy Objectives

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America’s development finance agency is constantly being pulled in three directions. The primary mandate of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) is to promote development by catalyzing private capital from US firms in emerging and frontier markets. OPIC is also supposed to support US foreign policy by making commercial investments aligned with diplomatic, security, or democracy objectives. Lastly, OPIC must operate on a commercial basis so projects are both sustainable over the long-term and cost nothing to US taxpayers.

Is OPIC Focused on the Private Sector’s Biggest Constraints?

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In an ideal world, development finance institutions (DFIs) should focus on the biggest constraints for businesses in developing countries. This helps to expand their impact beyond a single project or investment, thereby producing more systemic benefits. However, this is a particularly challenging issue for many DFIs given their operating models, which are typically driven by investor priorities.

There Wasn't a Decent OPIC Database, So We Spent Months Making One

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Even among policymakers, there is plenty of misunderstanding around how the US government’s premier agency charged with advancing a private sector-based development agenda, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), actually operates. When we searched for a database with key OPIC project-level information, we couldn’t find one. So we spent months manually entering all of the publicly available information on OPIC projects into a single location, the OPIC Scraped Portfolio dataset.

Is OPIC Corporate Welfare? The Data Says...

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For years, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) has been attacked by a handful of organizations as corporate welfare. But, were the charges of corporate welfare actually true?  My colleague Todd Moss and I spent months looking at the data to get an answer, and here it is: no

The Little Agency That Could

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Elizabeth Littlefield, President and CEO of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, sits down with me to discuss the agency's success in leading the transition from aid to private finance (despite its modest size), as well as what it has in store for the remainder of the Obama presidency.

Which One of These Things Is Not Like the Other? Hint: OPIC

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Dear Congress:

Just a tiny point of clarification on something that regularly drives me nuts: OPIC is a development agency—not a trade promotion agency.

I know, I know, you want to lump it in with the Export-Import Bank, but if you’re going to lump, USAID and MCC make a whole lot more sense.