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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.

 

A chart showing that commodity prices fell rapidly during the Ebola outbreak

An Epidemic and a Commodity Price Rout at the Same Time? It Happened in 2014

The COVID-19 health crisis has been paired with sharply lower global demand and a Saudi-Russian price war in the oil market that has reduced commodity prices by around a third. While this seems unprecedented, a concurrent economy-halting epidemic and commodity price rout has happened before, in Liberia, West Africa during the Ebola outbreak of 2014.

Stock photo of a man and a woman wearing face masks. Adobe Stock.

An Open Offer for Consumer Masks?

Non-medical masks are a comparatively affordable intervention that could be rolled out at scale in developing countries, were WHO guidance to change. At the moment, apparel firms in developing countries have considerable spare capacity because of cancelled orders. Taking all of this into account, we propose donor support for local cloth mask manufacture and—if WHO guidance were to change—free distribution.

A stock photo of a see-through piggy bank. Adobe Stock.

A Reckoning for China’s Opaque Overseas Lending

We are so accustomed to the Chinese government’s lack of transparency that the opaqueness of China’s overseas loans seems unremarkable at this point. But as we face what inevitably looks like a global debt crisis, one that is likely to hit low-income countries particularly hard, a clear accounting of the scale of the problem is critical. 

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