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Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

Taxing Kenya’s M-Pesa Picks the Pockets of the Poor

Kenya has instituted a new tax that affects users of M-Pesa -- a widely popular phone-based money transfer service used by more than half of Kenya’s adult population. The new 10 percent excise duty on fees charged for money transfer services applies to mobile phone providers, banks, and other money transfer agencies. Operated by Safaricom, the largest mobile network operator in Kenya, M-Pesa accounts for the largest share of users of money transfer services. Users of M-Pesa products will therefore bear most of the impact of the tax.

Three Questions about Honduras's New Charter City

This is a joint post with Milan Vaishnav.

One of the biggest experiments in development economics is about to begin on Honduras's Northern Coast. Honduras has altered its constitution to open the way to ceding a large tract of land to build a new "Special Economic Zone", modeled on NYU economist Paul Romer's idea of charter cities -- new cities, built up from scratch, where first-world institutions and third-world immigrants can meet and do business.

Oops: Economists in Confused Search for the Middle Class in the Developing World

This is a joint post with Christian Meyer.

With rapid growth in emerging market economies in the last decade, millions of people have entered the new global middle class. That has created new consumer markets in Latin America, Africa, and Asia – a good example: Dunkin’ Donuts going to India – and sparked considerable interest in the global financial and corporate communities.

Finance Lessons from Emerging Markets for Europe and the United States

Last week I was one of a handful of speakers at the annual meeting of the Bretton Woods Committee, a non-partisan group that works to promote international economic cooperation and to foster strong, effective Bretton Woods institutions (i.e. the IMF and World Bank). Other speakers at the meeting, which was titled “From Vicious to Virtuous: The Cycle of Debt, Stability, and Growth” included U.S. Rep.

A Review of the U.S. Government's Review of Its Haiti Quake Response

This post is joint with Julie Walz.

Last week, USAID finally published an external review on its activities in Haiti: “Independent Review of the U.S. Government Response to the Haiti Earthquake”. The report is dated March 28, 2011. Yes, 2011. It took over a year to post the document on the USAID website. The review was conducted by MacFadden and Associates – which operates an $80M Indefinite Quantity Contract from USAID. There are some frank and enlightening assessments of USG response and coordination, but very little discussion of aid accountability.

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