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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.

 

IMF Leadership: OK for Now, but Fixing the Process Shouldn’t Wait

Christine Lagarde is now firmly in place at the IMF, and her competence, political savvy, and good humor bode well for the institution and the global economy.  Indeed, with the crisis in the eurozone upon us, the results of CGD’s spring survey on how a managing director should be chosen at the IMF may feel behind the moment if not the times—but anyone with five minutes to spare should take a look at David Wheeler’s analysis of the results.

Lagarde and the Dragon: The IMF’s New Head Confronts a Rapidly Changing World

Judging from her first public speech since taking office last July, Christine Lagarde is all that her many supporters say she is: tough-minded, articulate, charming.  In a talk hosted by the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington’s Ronald Reagan International Trade Center, she deftly laid out key challenges facing the global economy: “an anemic and bumpy recovery with unacceptably high unemployment” in the high-income countries, the debt crisis in Europe, and mounting public debt in the United States.

Go On, Hug a Failure

Back in June, I blogged about a meeting with Dr Maura O’Neill Chief Innovation Officer at USAID, and a very interesting discussion of the importance of learning from failure.  The possibility of a USAID FailFaire –or even Fail Summit— was mooted.  We’re not quite there yet.  And maybe we won’t be until there’s a grand bargain o

Is 2012 Iraq’s Last Chance to Get It Right on Oil?

This is a joint post with Steph Majerowicz.

The Arab Spring has grabbed the world’s attention, yet Iraq—the Arab country that not long ago was the very epicenter of American foreign policy—has all but fallen off the front pages. While Iraq’s security has improved greatly, the country is still struggling to consolidate a functional government in the face of strong sectarian tensions. Not least of these big challenges is reaching agreement on oil. Eight years after the fall of Saddam, Iraq has yet to pass a hydrocarbons law, let alone come up with a coherent spending plan for its oil wealth.

Related Working Paper and Podcast

Iraq’s Last Window: Diffusing the Risks of a Petro-State - Working Paper 266

Oil 2 Cash in Iraq: Johnny West (Podcast)

So how could Iraq manage its oil? One idea (and readers of this blog will be shocked to hear) is a universal dividend paid to all Iraqis. Colleagues Nancy Birdsall and Arvind Subramanian proposed just this idea back in 2004 as a way to try to create accountability. The idea of an Alaska-style dividend for Iraq was starting to catch on, for example, this NY Times oped by Steven Clemons, proposals from Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and even former Alaskan governor and dividend godfather Jay Hammond tried to export his grand experiment to Baghdad. Given the political and security climate of the time, the idea was thought too radical.

We Agree! Ugandan Oil Debate Should Take Place in Uganda (Plus a Few Clarifications about Our Paper)

This is a joint post with Stephanie Majerowicz.

How should Uganda use its prospective oil revenues? Our recent paper on this question argued that choices should be considered with an eye towards both their development impact and the implications for governance. We are happy that the paper has sparked debate in Uganda, including discussions in the Daily Monitor by Tabu Butagira and Nick Young. As Nick Young correctly observes, the question of what to do with oil revenues should be debated in Uganda rather than in Washington. In hopes of provoking further informed debate locally, we wish to clarify a few points about our paper that seem to have been misunderstood.

If Randomized Evaluations Are So Great, Why Don’t Businesses Use Them?

This is a joint post with Michael Clemens.

Michael Clemens recently wrote me, saying that he gets asked this question a lot. I do, too. So I was interested when he brought my attention to a 2007 article in Forbes that discusses a number of companies that do use randomized studies. I wasn’t surprised to see Google in the list, but I never imagined that all the junk mail that I receive from Capital One might be guided by sophisticated research (though it hasn’t convinced me to sign up yet!). Progressive Insurance apparently discovered profitable lines of business (middle-aged motorcycle drivers) by randomly accepting a portion of applicants who would normally be rejected and studying their claims behavior. According to Hunt Alcott, other companies that have used randomized studies include H&R Block, PNC Bank, Amazon, Subway and Harrah’s Casino.

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