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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.

 

Post-2015: Zero Is the Comely-est Number

One thing we emphasized in the Karver/Kenny/Sumner paper on MDGs 2.0 was that the MDGs are far better remembered, and have been far more influential, than the rest of the Millennium Declaration from which they were drawn.  We suggested that was because the MDGs were easy to understand, self-evidently important, numerical and time bound, and we called for any follow up goals to keep those vital features.  That point seems to be w

The New Indian Politics: No Slowdown, No Panic

This piece originally appeared in the Financial Times on September 23, 2012 (gated) and is posted here with permission.

The Indian government’s recent reforms to reduce government subsidies and embrace greater foreign direct investment were unexpected and bold. Markets have rewarded them with surging stock prices and a rebound in the value of the rupee. The reforms may yet be reversed or diluted because of the political backlash. Their impact may be more symbolic than substantive. Nevertheless, they are significant in that they reflect changes in the operating assumptions of Indian politics.

Counting Haiti’s Private Sector

This is a joint post with Vijaya Ramachandran.

The first-ever National Business Census began in Haiti this month. A census of formal and informal businesses has never been conducted and there is no comprehensive business database. Although a daunting task, the census will likely help to strengthen small and medium enterprises and increase local procurement.

The survey began September 3rd and will be conducted by 500 interviewers recruited by 42 supervisors from across the country – at a cost of 26 million gourdes (around $600,000). Wilson Laleau, the Minister of Trade and Industry, explained that this survey will enable the government to assist entrepreneurs with access to credit, help meeting standards, and entering new markets. Maintaining crops, inventories, and production is notoriously difficult with disasters such as Hurricane Isaac. A comprehensive census could improve access to credit and insurance coverage for natural disasters. Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe said: “Everyone recognizes the importance of such an activity… [a census is a] prerequisite to any policy to support the development of entrepreneurship in Haiti.”

Put the UN General Assembly on The Daily Show! (Or Maybe Not?)

Last week I gave a speech at the UN General Assembly (UNGA).  I was the keynote speaker for a session on the global economy and the Millennium Development Goals. I came away with mixed feelings. On one hand, the inefficiency of the UN can be maddening—the place is badly overdue for a good skewering on The Daily Show.

I’ve Gone Back to School

Colleagues and friends of CGD:

This week I started leave from CGD for three-plus months, to teach at Williams College. For those of you from the US west coast and outside the United States, Williams is among America’s most selective (and expensive!) small liberal arts colleges.  It’s nestled in a tiny town in the Berkshire mountains in western Massachusetts.

All That Glisters: The Golden Thread and Complexity

David Cameron co-chairs the UN Panel on the future of the development agenda, so his 'golden thread' view of development is likely to have a global impact. In the second of three blog posts looking at development policy through the lens of complexity thinking, Owen Barder asks whether the British government's golden thread is good development policy. He concludes that though it has much to commend it, it also has significant weaknesses.

The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, wants us to stop talking simply about the quantity of aid we give, and:

“start talking about what I call the ‘golden thread’, which is you only get real long-term development through aid if there is also a golden thread of stable government, lack of corruption, human rights, the rule of law, transparent information.”

This is not a new wheeze: Mr Cameron has been talking about the golden thread since before he became leader of the Conservative party. Given that he is a co-chair of the UN High Level Panel on the global development agenda after 2015, we can expect to see some of this thinking in that panel’s recommendations.

What Is Development?

This is the first of three blog posts looking at the implications of complexity theory for development. These posts draw on a new online lecture by Owen Barder, based on his Kapuscinski Lecture in May 2012 which was sponsored by UNDP and the EU. In this post, Barder explains how complexity science, which is belatedly getting more attention from mainstream economists, gives a new perspective to the meaning of ‘development’.

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.

EBRD Raises the Bar for International Appointments

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.

Interviews with EBRD Candidates

On Friday the Governors of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) will decide who will be the Bank’s next President.  Today we are publishing interviews with four of the candidates.

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