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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.

 

The World Needs More Bad Schools

A commission led by the UN's special envoy for education, Gordon Brown, is calling for a doubling of global aid for education, without any clear reform agenda to raise learning levels in the world's failing school systems. That might be ok: bad schools in poor countries still seem to produce big benefits.

Beneficial Openness: Is More Transparency Always Better?

Financial transparency has been promoted as a key solution to improving governance and accountability. Some approaches are targeted such as open contracting (focused on public procurement), and regulations requiring extractive industry companies to ‘publish what they pay.’ Other proposals cast a much broader net such as calls for company owners to be listed on registers of beneficial ownership and mandatory publication of ‘country-by-country’ reports by all multinational corporations.

Defending Development in a Time of Cuts—My Conversation with UNDP’s Helen Clark

On the day the Trump Administration proposed considerable cuts to the US international affairs budget, including US funding for the UN, CGD hosted the outgoing head of the UN’s largest agency, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark. As she prepares to step down after eight years in the post, she will leave behind a UN system facing serious questions about its future capabilities and financing. That idea, in fact, informed the title of our event Facing Future Challenges on Uncertain Ground, the video of which you can watch here.

Does the US Interest Rate Rise Mean Trouble for Emerging Markets? Depends on Your Timeframe

The rate is still very low at 0.75% in the US, and, in addition, there is no perception or expectation that rates are about to rise in other advanced economies such as Japan or the EU. Taken together then, interest rates in advanced economies look set to stay extremely low. So, for now at least, emerging markets may not need to worry too much about capital inflows drying up. But in the medium to long term a problem may loom for emerging markets.

Demonetization Ushers in New Era of Digital Finance in India

It has been more than 100 days since the Modi government declared that the two largest denomination notes in India—the 500 and 1000 rupee notes—would no longer be accepted as legal tender. The announcement of “demonetization” had an immediate and sweeping effect on Indian households, which were no longer allowed to use the notes (outside of a few narrow exceptions) and were given less than eight weeks to deposit or exchange them.

New Leadership at the IFC Aims to Get Us from Billions to Trillions

This week, CGD hosted a discussion with Philippe Le Houérou, the CEO of IFC, the private sector arm of the World Bank. He was enthusiastic about his institution’s role in leveraging private capital and getting from billions to trillions of dollars for development, but he also presented a nuanced and critical judgment about the limitations of the IFC model to date, pointing to a number of ways it needs to change.

Criminal Finances: Should the UK Be Imposing Public Registers of Beneficial Ownership on Its Ex-Colonies?

A new Criminal Finances Bill is making its way through the UK House of Commons which aims to make it harder for criminals and kleptocrats to use the UK financial system to launder ill-gotten gains, while minimising the burden on legitimate businesses and individuals. The bill gives expanded powers to law enforcement agencies and makes banks and other businesses liable for prosecution if they fail to prevent facilitation of tax evasion. It also introduces ‘Unexplained Wealth Orders’ (UWOs). These would allow the authorities to demand explanations about any assets that appear suspicious. These measures should have both domestic and international benefits in tackling illicit financial flows.

Aid in Reverse: Facts or Fantasy?

A comment piece published in the Guardian earlier this week argued that for every $1 of aid that developing countries receive, they lose $24 in net outflows. The 1 to 24 figure is shocking and morally compelling. But it isn’t true.

Can Payment for Results Repair Political Accountability Relations?

When people hear that a foreign aid program is paying for results, they can think about it in two very different ways. Some people think that paying for results is a way to control recipients, making them more strictly accountable to the people or organizations that are paying them. Others think that paying for results is a way to give recipients more autonomy and encourage them to be accountable to their beneficiaries (in the case of service providers) or their constituents (in the case of governments). It turns out that both perspectives are right—depending on just how the program that pays for results is designed.

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