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A few month's ago, Ruth Levine recommended that I read Steve Berkman’s book “The World Bank and the Gods of Lending” and yesterday I had the chance to listen over the phone while he gave an informal talk about it at the Center for Global Development.
Nigeria is proposing to transfer a 10 percent stake in the national oil company to delta communities; citizens of the delta would then be entitled to cash benefits, delivered through a trust-type mechanism. Read about it here.
That would be a real live breakthrough on a good idea proposed in CGD papers for Iraq and Ghana.
Secretary Clinton will be leaving August 5 for a seven-country tour of Africa. She will hit Kenya, South Africa, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Liberia, and Cape Verde. (Whew!) The itinerary suggests that the theme of the trip will be more real politik than President Obama’s recent visit to Ghana which stressed good governance and was a celebration of Ghana’s recent electoral and economic successes. The Secretary, in choosing the largest economies and the continent’s most influential capitals, is likely to highlight more traditional U.S. economic and security interests. A few thoughts on what to expect -- and what Africa can hope for:
What would Barack Obama be like if he was still president in 2051? We would expect that despite whatever initial good intentions, that four decades in power would inevitably give way to entrenched corruption, mindless sycophancy, and probably destroy our democracy. Such an outcome is not only barred by the U.S. constitution, but sounds like an absurd question today.
Last week, the Aluminum Corp. of China, otherwise known as Chinalco, received regulatory approval to proceed with its investment of $19.5 billion in the Australian-based mining giant Rio Tinto, giving the Chinese access to a large and secure supply of iron ore, copper, aluminium and other resources in Australia and Latin America. Is this a signal that China is losing interest in Africa? Or that African governments are becoming disenchanted with their Chinese partners?
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.
Anne Applebaum’s op-ed today is a reminder that just having a new U.S. administration with a boatload of goodwill won’t necessarily deal with underlying policy differences in our foreign relations, hokey plastic “reset” buttons aside. Applebaum was referring to Russia, but this seems to apply equally to South Africa.