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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.

 

Don't Do It, Colombia! Presidential Term Limits Are Good for Development, But Endangered

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.

Missed Opportunities in Port of Spain, But a Step Forward on Cuba

As President Obama was making his way to the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago last week, many hoped for something more concrete than just a fresh start with our neighbors in Latin America, who felt neglected and ignored for the past eight years. Those of us hoping that the president might take the opportunity to announce plans to seek congressional approval for two trade agreements that have been pending for two years or more--with Panama and Colombia--were disappointed.

A Cautionary Note on AIG Bonus Clawback: Is the United States Turning into Argentina?

A friend who works in Wall Street was livid upon learning about the U.S. House of Representatives’ move to tax the controversial AIG bonuses at 90 percent. My friend—who is from Latin America and does not work at AIG—said that it looks like the United States is turning into Argentina. He was referring to last year when, in the midst of the commodity boom, the Argentine government attempted to raise the tax rate on the additional profits to around 90 percent and to increase its access to resources it nationalized the private pension plans.

Regional Investment Agreement: An Idea for the 2009 Summit of the Americas

Last week I had the pleasure of hosting a lively and useful discussion of Nancy Lee's idea for improving economic integration in the Americas -- via a focus now on investment rather than trade. Joining the discussion were economists and regional experts from the public and private sectors, some with a good nose for the politics as well as the economics. (Nancy Lee's proposal is a good example of a "practical idea" grounded in independent research, to invoke the Center's tag line.

President Bush in Latin America: Democracy, Social Justice and a Dollop of Aid

President Bush is going to Latin America, and that has inspired a round of commentary in the mainstream press. A New York Times editorial urges the President to focus on democracy, human rights and social justice, and applauds the recent doubling of U.S. aid to the region. Democracy and social justice and a dollop of aid (the current budget of $1.6 billion is barely 1 percent of spending by Latin governments on health and education) are good things.

María and José Know How to Spend Their Remittances

Nearly every time there is a news story about the billions of dollars flowing to poor countries as remittances, someone worries that not “enough” of that money is being saved and invested. A case in point is today’s piece in the Washington Post. Latin American workers in the US will send home $45 billion this year, but “only a small portion … has gone to economic development.”

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