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Carbon offsets -- granting rights to emit greenhouse gases beyond a stated ceiling in exchange for contributions to cutting emissions elsewhere -- are an important part of the Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill now making its way through the U.S. Congress. Offsets have plenty of appeal, but in practice they have a poor track record. And there are less risky, lower cost ways to achieve similar goals.
The economic crisis is hitting the world’s poorest countries through falling trade and commodity prices. This column argues that the US should respond by further opening its market to exports from small, poor economies. That would not only provide an additional stimulus to those economies but also strengthen US global leadership, give a boost to the Doha Round, and serve broader US national interests by helping to promote political stability in some very shaky parts of the world.
“The World’s poorest developing nations have a special place in the Obama trade agenda.”
-US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Georgetown University, 29 April 2009
While welcome, it is not yet clear how Ambassador Kirk’s words, and the President’s commitment, will be turned into action – and the need for action is urgent.
Sen. John Kerry called for a grand new vision to put diplomacy and development alongside defense at the heart of America's foreign policy in a knock-out speech at the Brookings Institution last week. Sen. Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, spoke of a new generation of global challenges—ethnic tension, religious extremism, financial crises, climate change and poverty—that require a dramatic overhaul of U.S. foreign policy to protect our common security and prosperity.
If you want to understand how poor people in poor countries manage money, invest in Portfolios of the Poor. The new book's four authors---Daryl Collins, Jonathan Morduch, Stuart Rutherford, and Orlanda Ruthven---took up an idea of David Hulme, to compile financial diaries of poor households.
Last week, the Aluminum Corp. of China, otherwise known as Chinalco, received regulatory approval to proceed with its investment of $19.5 billion in the Australian-based mining giant Rio Tinto, giving the Chinese access to a large and secure supply of iron ore, copper, aluminium and other resources in Australia and Latin America. Is this a signal that China is losing interest in Africa? Or that African governments are becoming disenchanted with their Chinese partners?
How long should presidents rule? On Tuesday, Colombia’s senate approved a national referendum to amend the constitution—again—to allow the popular president Alvaro Uribe to stand for election next year to yet another term in office.
You should care because this is representative of a big phenomenon that spans the whole developing world. For good reasons, many developing countries built presidential term limits into their constitutions—the contracts that govern how people agree to be ruled by each other.
The U.S. should do more to support the International Monetary Fund and its efforts to stabilize the global economy, CGD president Nancy Birdsall and three other witnesses told the House Financial Services Subcommittee on International Monetary Policy and Trade last week.
Last fall, as stocks tumbled and credit froze, I blogged on how much foreign aid has fallen in past financial crises. I found that in four previous cases---Finland, Japan, Norway, and Sweden, all in the early 1990s---foreign aid fell 10---62%. The bigger drops happened in bigger crises. The analysis was easy to understand, but crude. One factor it ignored was that the Cold War rationale for foreign aid had just crumbled, so many countries were cutting aid anyway.