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Nancy Lee is a senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development and a senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Her work at CGD focuses on the role of development banks in mobilizing private finance and increasing development impact. Previously, she was the deputy chief executive officer of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), an innovative, independent US aid agency that fights poverty through country compacts that support inclusive growth. Key MCC attributes are rigorous country selection, country ownership of compacts, data-driven resource allocation, results accountability, and transparency.
Prior to joining MCC, Dr. Lee was the general manager (CEO) of the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) at the Inter-American Development Bank, the Bank’s laboratory for private sector-led development and a key impact investor in the region. Under Dr. Lee's leadership, the MIF launched initiatives in lending to women-owned SMEs; a public-private partnership to scale youth job training programs; a program to introduce social impact bonds to the region; innovative climate finance models; and a crowdsourcing platform for development solutions.
Previously, Dr. Lee served at the US Treasury Department, where she was deputy assistant secretary for the Western Hemisphere and for Europe and Eurasia. She led Treasury’s work to put financial inclusion, SME finance, and women’s access to finance on the G20 agenda. She co-chaired the G20 SME Finance Group and led the development of the G20 SME Finance Challenge and the SME Finance Innovation Fund. She was a Treasury negotiator in the Uruguay Round of trade negotiations. Dr. Lee is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and holds a PhD and an MA in economics from Tufts University and a BA in economics from Wellesley College.
There is an urgent need to change PSW business models to maintain their financial sustainability while doing much better on mobilization and development impact. Two factors are critical for meeting this challenge: enhanced risk management capability and greater flexibility regarding risk-adjusted returns.
The next U.S. president has a great opportunity to lead regional
economic integration in the Americas, to the benefit of both the
United States and Latin America. For the Americas, the high hopes of a decade ago for a
hemispheric trade agreement have faded, along with confidence
in the region’s ability to act collectively to address fundamental
economic challenges. The model for integration outlined here is a regional investment standards agreement—a collective effort to set common standards for key microeconomic policies affecting both domestic and foreign businesses.
Unlike East Asia and Europe, Latin America lacks a shared integration strategy and continues to struggle with a burdensome investment climate. In this new CGD Note, visiting fellow Nancy Lee suggests a fresh approach to regional integration in the form of a proposed regional investment agreement. The idea is a collective effort to set common standards for reducing specific barriers to domestic and foreign investment. Beyond its benefits for growth, such an agreement could boost the incomes of the poor by helping small businesses trapped in the informal sector move into the more productive formal sector.
Two bills just introduced in the Senate and the House, both called the Economic Growth and Development Act, take on a central challenge in US development policy and programs: lack of collaboration to mobilize private investment among the 12 departments, 26 agencies, and more than 60 federal government offices involved in delivering aid.
As global decision makers meet in Davos, one of the top agenda items should be how to mobilize more private finance to fund the Sustainable Development Goals—particularly how to strengthen the role of one of the most important tools of the international community: the multilateral development banks.
The debate at a recent CGD event eloquently demonstrated once again that this is a moment of deep uncertainty and basic disagreement about the future and purpose of aid programs and development agencies. But even more risk is introduced into this perilous mix if we fail to understand what we already have in the toolkit and how these tools can be used to meet needs.