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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.

 

Three Reasons the Spring Meetings Remained Glum—Despite Better Global Economic News

Each year, as ministers gather from all corners of the world for the World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings, Washington DC resounds with a cacophony of differing perspectives on future prospects, like a giant, multinational orchestra tuning up. Yet this time, in both public and private gatherings, with both developed and developing country dignitaries, as well as leading technocrats from the international financial institutions, one refrain kept recurring, defining the mood of the whole symphony. I would summarize it as 'The numbers are looking better, so why don't I feel good about them?'

Reinhart-Rogoff: The Problem and Solutions

Paraphrasing "jesting Pilate", "what is truth when academic superstars supposedly produce it?" is possibly the most important yet neglected question raised by the recent Reinhart-Rogoff (R-R) affair.

The essential facts of this episode are these: two Harvard professors, Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, used their academic research to become strong advocates in the policy realm, although not among fellow academics, of the need for fiscal austerity when economies approach a threshold level of debt-to-GDP ratio of 90 per cent. Their superstar reputations (deservedly earned through previous work) rendered their advocacy influential, even highly so, in the charged policy debates in the United States and all over Europe. The research - especially the critical and attention-grabbing finding of a sharp growth discontinuity at that 90 per cent threshold - was subsequently exposed as flawed.

Impact Evaluation and Political Economy: What Does the “Conditional” in “Conditional Cash Transfers” Accomplish?

Some economists, with their recent fad for "evaluation", have managed to get themselves deeply confused about what the "conditional" in "conditional cash transfer" (CCT) is really about. They often interpret the "effectiveness" of CCTs relative to the action/behavior/outcome that was conditioned on—for example, the impact of schooling-conditioned transfers on enrollment rates.

Don’t Do Impact Evaluations Because…

Recently, I was called for advice by someone who will be running a workshop attended by people who implement and evaluate programs. She asked me to help her anticipate the main objections raised against doing impact evaluations—evaluations that measure how much of an outcome can be attributed to a specific intervention--and to suggest possible responses.