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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.


Shortcut to Accountability? A World Bank Call to Try Cash Transfers

This is a joint post with Stephanie Majerowicz

The World Bank’s Shanta Devarajan and Marcelo Giugale in yesterday’s Guardian Poverty Matters blog write:

Except for Botswana, the track record of Africa's mineral and hydrocarbon exporters is sobering. While Africa's central banks are today better equipped to deal with currency appreciation, and its civil society more alert to environmental hazards, the institutions that control graft are not strong. They must be improved. However, this will take time. Is there a shortcut to better accountability in the management of natural resources? Yes, there is: direct transfers of resource dividends to citizens.

Can Christine Lagarde Cut it as IMF Head?

As we all know, the answer has nothing to do with experience, intelligence or global scrutiny, and everything to do with the answer to this question:   How would she do on the Daily Show?  Fortunately we already have the answer, from April, 2009.

For those who missed it.

The verdict’s in:  Mais oui, absolument!

G-20 Endorses World Food Programme Hedging

This post is co-authored by Vijaya Ramachandran

Last week, the G-20 agriculture ministers meeting in Paris issued a communiqué calling for the World Food Programme to develop hedging strategies to purchase food. In a little-noticed section towards the end of a 24-page document, the ministers stated:

We invite the multilateral, regional and national development banks or agencies to further explore, in connection with the private sector as appropriate:

Development of hedging strategies that could help international humanitarian agencies, in particular WFP, to optimize food procurements and maximize the purchasing power of financial resources, building upon forward purchase… (Annex 5)

The Lagarde Saga

This post first appeared on the Peterson Institute's Real Time Economic Issues Watch.

With the United States throwing its support behind Christine Lagarde for the post of managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), it seems that it is all over, except for the shouting (or rather the whim of the French magistrate investigating her role in the Bernard Tapie affair). This result is unfortunate in one respect. Any decision on the Lagarde appointment should have been deferred until she had been legally acquitted in France. Especially, in the aftermath of the Dominique Strauss-Kahn affair, it was imperative that the new candidate be, like Caesar’s wife, beyond reproach. So, we could still have a situation (admittedly a low probability one) where the world decides to appoint Ms. Lagarde while there is an ongoing investigation against her in her own country. Nothing would have been lost by delaying the appointment by a few weeks.

President Sirleaf’s Ambition for Liberia: Aid-Free in a Decade

CGD had the honor and privilege of hosting Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf—the first elected female head of state in Africa—on June 23.  At the event, President Sirleaf set a hugely ambitious goal of being aid-free within ten years. Given that aid currently accounts for more than half of GDP, this would imply serious increases in other sources of revenues, but it’s a well-calibrated message both to Congress and to audiences back home.

The Most Effective, Least Used Tool for Disaster Relief: Limited Humanitarian Entry

This is a joint post with Tejaswi Velayudhan

A year and a half ago, an earthquake wrecked Haiti. So many Haitians were killed that if the same fraction of the U.S. population were cut down, the deaths would outnumber the entire population of Tennessee. Commendable relief efforts are ongoing, supported in large part by U.S. assistance, but economic and political disarray have led to widespread perception that those efforts are inadequate.

Unfortunately, as it proceeds with the hard work of disaster relief for Haiti, the U.S. government has chosen not to use its most powerful tool: migration policy. Migration out of Haiti has caused more poverty reduction for Haitians than all attempts at poverty reduction within Haiti combined. Remittances to Haiti have amounted to at least double foreign aid, for years. Remittances also—unlike foreign aid—go directly into the pockets of needy people, and they rise more quickly after disasters than aid does. While the U.S. government has recently and sensibly suspended the deportations of some Haitians who arrived in the U.S. after the earthquake, it has not systematically used migration policy to help even a small number of Haitians starting out in Haiti arrive in the U.S. as a humanitarian gesture. It could easily do so.

In Memory of Stephen Everhart

We are saddened today with the news that our friend and colleague Stephen Everhart was killed yesterday in Baghdad.  Steve was in Iraq working to introduce a new university business curriculum, part of his life’s work to expand economic opportunities around the world.  We both got to know Steve while he was at OPIC where he helped to invest billions of dollars in the next generation of emerging markets.  After leaving government, Steve went to the business school at the American University in Cairo, and was named Associate Dean in 2009.  He had previously worked at the IFC and on Wall Street.  Our condolences go out to Steve’s family and three children.