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On Friday evening, the governors of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) selected a new president: British civil servant Sir Suma Chakrabarti. The decision is important because the EBRD has recently taken on a major global challenge: assisting the countries of the Arab Spring. It also matters because the selection process raised the bar for open, transparent and merit-based leadership selection at other international institutions, including the World Bank, IMF and the other regional development banks.
This is a joint post with David Roodman.
The Dominique Strauss-Kahn debacle has unexpectedly forced the first leadership turnover at a Bretton Woods institution since the global financial crisis—the first leadership transition in what we might call the G-20 world. The tacit deal that has long put an American atop the World Bank and a European in charge of the IMF, rooted in the geopolitics of the 1940s, looks more archaic than ever. That’s why this time around, the calls have grown even louder to make the leadership selection process of the World Bank and IMF open, transparent, and meritocratic. Owen Barder suggests on his widely read blog that transparency and merit are key to maintain the reputation and relevancy of these international institutions, and Nancy Birdsall agrees that the decision needs to be based on merit, not nationality. The Financial Times and others news media say that it is time for everyone to acknowledge that we are in the 21st century with several emerging powers that must have a larger role in the Bank, the Fund and other multilateral organizations. One of us (Vij) has made this argument too, constructing a model of global governance that factors in GDP and population as of 2011, not 1941.
In testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade last week, CGD president Nancy Birdsall argued that support for the G-20 commitments to increase lending resources at the IMF is a critical part of ensuring U.S. recovery from the economic crisis and global prosperity and security. She was, however, confronted with a host of concerns about whether multilateral lending would go to governments like Iran, Sudan, and Syria, and with one member of Congress’s view that he “is a citizen of the United States, not the world.”
We at CGD warmly welcome president-elect Barack Obama's appointments of Timothy Geithner as Secretary of Treasury and Lawrence Summers to head the National Economic Council. Both are members of the CGD Board of Directors. This is no coincidence.
Here's my wish list (as a development economist especially concerned with the effects of the financial crisis and a subsequent global downturn on poor people in emerging markets and low-income countries) for the G-20 Summit. I’ll return to ask how they did next week.
G-20 countries announce a combined global fiscal stimulus of at least 2 percent of global GDP. That would be on the order of $2 trillion.