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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.

 

Libya: Can Oil and Democracy Mix?

Libya’s oil puts at risk its hopes of becoming a democracy.  If easy oil money is captured by a few people, and they then control politics, Libya will end up  looking more like Angola and less like Norway. 

Ghana Graduating to Middle-Income, Catching Up to Its Own Vibrant Civil Society

I had the pleasure of visiting Ghana again this month to discuss the possible implications for the country of its new middle income status, the result of rapid growth and (a rather significant 63%!) statistical adjustment.  In particular, I was there to talk about Ghana’s looming graduation from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) window.   This is crucial for Ghana, since IDA i

Nigeria, SWFs, and the Resource Curse? Two New Papers

This is a joint post with Stephanie Majerowicz

Nigeria, perhaps the world’s poster child for the oil curse, is the latest country to deploy a sovereign wealth fund as a tool to try to better manage national income. At the same time, Nigeria is struggling with depleted savings and growing fiscal concerns, even in a time of high oil prices. Will the sovereign wealth fund help Nigeria get back on track? What are the chances it won’t be raided by politicians with short-time horizons, as in the past? Could cash transfers help? Two new background papers from CGD’s Oil2Cash Initiative look at these questions from different perspectives.

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.

Of Penn, Pigs and Cod

If there is one thing that Development Experts hate, it is celebrities acting as if they know something about development.  Of course, if there’s another thing that at least some Development Experts hate, it is other Development Experts acting as if they know something about development.  The good news for those folks, at least (and you know who you are): if Development Experts are as clueless on how to promote development as the celebrities, maybe the celebrities aren’t the big problem.

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