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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.

 

Seven Steps to Supercharge OPIC, America’s Unsung Development Hero

This is a joint post with Ben Leo, former CGD research fellow and now Policy Director at ONE.

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation is the best US development agency you’ve probably never heard of. Known as OPIC, it’s often mistakenly confused with the oil cartel. But if you care about promoting economic opportunity around the world, then OPIC should be on your radar. And with a few changes, the Government could make OPIC a whole lot more impactful.

Launched in 1971, OPIC leverages public money to create market opportunities and crowd-in private capital by providing insurance, loans, and seed capital for new private equity funds. Over four decades, OPIC has helped to generate nearly $200 billion in new investment, enabling US investors to enter new markets and building a private sector in support of US policy objectives. The bonus of OPIC is not only that it works, but that it comes at no cost to US taxpayers. In fact, for 34 years in a row, OPIC has generated profits and contributed funds into the US Treasury (the FY2012 budget expects a $188 million contribution).

Send Salads to Ethiopia, and Solar Panels to Senegal

This post originally appeared on Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs' Policy Innovations blog.

Imagine the United States sending low-calorie food aid to Ethiopia in response to the global obesity epidemic. Absurd, right? Even if global waistline trends are worrisome, Ethiopians didn't create the problem. Such a policy would be futile since it would have no noticeable impact on the global aggregate.

India Leading the Way on Biometric ID—and Now Replacing Subsidies with Cash

The Washington Post reported yesterday that India will, starting Jan 1st in 51 districts, pay cash directly into the accounts of poor families as it begins unraveling its convoluted web of food, fuel and other subsidies. India’s been toying with this idea for a while, so it’s good news that it’ll finally kick-off in the New Year. Many others will be watching.

Dodd-Frank, the EU, and the Resource Curse

British Prime Minister David Cameron’s op-ed  in the Wall Street Journal lays out his anti-poverty vision. As my colleague Todd Moss notes, this type of serious, top-down and bottom-up debate about development issues doesn’t make the US look especially good by comparison.

David Cameron’s Antipoverty Agenda: It’s Post-Gleneagles, Post-2015, and Post-Aid, but is it Post-November 6?

While we are desperately trying to decode a strand of insight into US development policy in the Presidential debates, the British are having a full-throated debate about leadership on 21st-century global issues —and, frankly, making us look bad. In today’s Wall Street Journal, British Prime Minister David Cameron lays out his antipoverty vision in this op-ed.  My three takeaways:

On My Wish List for the Next Administration: A US Africa Policy Worthy of Africa

Precisely as Africa is rising on the radar screens of investors and security types, it seems to be falling off the US foreign policy map. With the exception of Governor Romney’s mention of Mali (twice!) in the third debate, Africa hardly featured at all. That’s a shame, since Africa is both a growing opportunity and will become a greater threat if neglected. I’ve been deeply disappointed to see the United States reduce its engagement with the continent under the current administration, losing ground on the progress made under Presidents Clinton and Bush. Regardless of who wins on November 6, the scope for doing better—and more without more money—is obvious.

The following originally appeared on October 1 as “Missing in Africa” on ForeignAffairs.com.

In Tokyo, Kim Should Signal Why IDA Needs to Be Better, Not Bigger

This is a joint post with Stephanie Majerowicz

World Bank presidents have often defined their success in part via ever-larger replenishments for IDA, the Bank’s soft loan window. But at his first ever Bank-Fund annual meetings this weekend in Tokyo, Jim Yong Kim should explain to the gathered illuminati why this is no longer an appropriate metric.

Related Podcast

The Future of IDA

After 52 years, IDA is facing a watershed moment. Drastic changes in both the supply and demand for the World Bank’s cheap long-term loans to governments of poor countries requires rethinking IDA’s purpose, tools, and broad role. In Tokyo, Kim should be sure that shareholders understand that the future of IDA depends, not on its size, but on adapting its mandate and business model to certain new realities:

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