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Views from the Center

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World Bank Caucus Launched on the Hill

The U.S. Congress launched a new bipartisan Caucus for Congressional-World Bank Dialogue at a packed event on Capitol Hill July 16. The caucus, co-chaired by Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Betty McCollum (D-MN), provides a forum for members of Congress to engage the World Bank, parliamentarians and policy experts on poverty reduction, global development and trade.

World Bank Revisits the Meaning of "Absolute" Poverty

This is a joint posting with Martina Tonizzo
The World Bank has announced a new poverty line on the basis of revised estimates of Purchasing Price Parity (PPP) price levels around the world. In the working paper that explains the basis for the new line, poverty measurement guru Martin Ravallion and his co-authors make two proposals.

President Bush Should Order the EPA to Waive the Ethanol Mandate Next Week

Governor Rick Perry of Texas, representing a major livestock-producing state hammered by rising feed costs, has petitioned the Environmental Policy Agency to suspend half of the mandated level for blending ethanol in gasoline. The EPA has the authority under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 to suspend all or part of the mandate for up to a year if there is a "significant renewable feedstock disruption or other market circumstance" and the administrator is supposed to respond to Governor Perry's petition by July 24.

Another Volley in the Battle over Biofuels

“A leading World Bank economist's claims that biofuels are a major cause of soaring world food prices could further undermine support for the alternative fuel worldwide and cause tensions with the White House, which fervently supports the new industry.

Scrap the G8

Once again the G8 has come up tragically short on climate change and a host of urgent problems affecting poor people in developing countries. The good news is that they are at least discussing the right topics. The first Hokkaido G8 document, on the World Economy spills lots of ink on relations between rich and developing economies, including for example, reaffirmation of support for the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

Albright and Podesta Call for Rich Country Action on Food Crisis, Including Release of Japanese Rice Stockpile

Former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright and John Podesta, former chief of staff to President Clinton and CEO of the Center for American Progress, have urged rich world leaders assembled for the G8 summit in Japan to take action on the global food crisis, including rapid release of Japanese rice stockpiles imported mostly from the US. In an Op-Ed in today's Boston Globe they write:

Another Banner Year for IFC -- NOW Is The Time for A Big Push into Renewable Energy

This is a joint posting with David Wheeler
The International Finance Corporation, the private sector investment arm of the World Bank, is set to have yet another banner year with profits in the range of $2 billion. As the IFC's equity stakes in services, telecommunications and particularly in oil and gas have grown, so have its profits. In FY07, IFC invested more than $8 billion of its own money and mobilized nearly $4 billion more. In Sub-Saharan Africa, it invested about $1.4 billion, doubling its investments from the previous year. In FY08, these numbers look to be even larger. If the IFC continues on its current path, in five years its portfolio will be larger than that of the World Bank itself.

Turning the Beat Around on Foreign Assistance Reform: Two Events Shift Debate From Why to How

Two former administrators of the U.S. Agency for International Development -- Peter McPherson and Brian Atwood -- said the U.S. government should give greater prominence to development and rewrite the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 in their testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week. Their testimony and other events around town signal growing momentum for a dramatic overhaul of U.S. foreign assistance.