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As travelers cancel flights, businesses ask workers to stay home, and stocks fall, a global health crisis becomes a global economic crisis. What are the channels of economic impact we can expect from COVID-19? Here we attempt to lay them out.
On World AIDS Day in 2003, WHO and UNAIDS launched a campaign called the “3 by 5 initiative,” with the objective to “treat three million people with HIV by 2005.” At that time, AIDS treatment was still prohibitively expensive for poor countries, where only a few thousand people had access to treatment. Thanks to President Bush’s creation of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program that same year, the number of people on antiretroviral therapy (ART) began to rise dramatically. While the total number of people on ART reached only one million in 2005, the objective to reach three million people was attained in 2007, and the numbers have continued to climb. The numbers have now surpassed 11 million in low- and middle-income countries and 13 million worldwide. (See bottom trend line in figure 1.)
I recently proposed that any assessment of a country’s statistical capacity be structured around the functions of government, such as those offered by the UN statistical office here. When this list is fully expanded, it includes all of the data that advanced countries like the US or Japan use to manage government and inform citizens. Most developing countries will fall below such an ambitious standard. So how should investments in improved statistical capacity be prioritized?
The new World Bank Group Strategy posted this week for discussion by the Development Committee, the ministerial-level forum that oversees the World Bank and the IMF, provides a solid analytical foundation for what has so far been a messy and disjointed re-organization effort. The release of the paper coincided with a speech by bank president Jim Kim that covered much of the same ground, but the strategy paper digs deeper. For those of us who believe that the World Bank has a crucial role to play in addressing the problems of the 21st Century, there is much to applaud.
In response to our August 5 blog criticizing the World Bank’s current reorganization plans, a few readers wrote to ask us if we could come up with a better idea. This is a daunting challenge. We’ve heard that the Bank has spent millions over more than a year to generate more than 40 ideas about how to tweak the Bank’s organization and has intensively discussed three overarching ideas, for none of which we have actually seen a background paper – or even a PowerPoint. So with brains unfettered by facts, uncluttered by concept papers, bereft of briefings and emboldened by ignorance, here goes…
The World Bank is reorganizing. Bloomberg reports that president Jim Yong Kim has written staff about a shake-up at the bank’s highest levels in preparation for implementing an as-yet-to-be-announced new institutional strategy. Such can be unsettling for bank employees, some of whom will find their jobs on the line and others who may get new bosses. Is there any reason for the rest of the world to care?
Although President Obama will be plenty busy during the remainder of his first term working with Congress to avoid the fiscal cliff, he need not wait until the start of his second term to further his vision for making US policy more supportive of global poverty reduction.
This blog post is co-authored with Martin Ravallion, who has been the Director of the World Bank’s Development Economics Research Group for several years and is currently Acting Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of the Bank. The blog is cross-posted on the World Bank site here.
These days there is a lot of discussion within development organizations and governments across the globe (including the World Bank) about how to assure a greater emphasis on development impact. It would no doubt help if senior management gave stronger verbal signals on the ultimate goals of the institution, and more actively supported staff to attain those goals. But such “low-powered incentives” have been tried before, and the problems seem to persist.
At a recent CGD breakfast with Johnny West on his new book Karama! Journeys Through the Arab Spring, our colleague Mead Over asked how women would benefit from the Arab Spring. Though he speaks Arabic and has spent 20 years in the region, West didn’t have much to share about the role and prospects of women. As West explained, he had very few opportunities to interact with women. Unfortunately, this is a piece of a broader reality: even when women have played a huge role in protest movements, they are rarely represented in accounts of the revolution.