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Five years after Africa was centerstage at a meeting of the G7 heads of state in Gleneagles, it has all but vanished from the priorities of policymakers from the rich and emerging economies. At the G20 Summit in London this week, heads of state will debate new resources for the IMF, in the range of $250 billion. But these resources will likely be deposited in the New Arrangements to Borrow (NAB) facility, which will be far too expensive and out of reach of most African countries.
We at CGD warmly welcome president-elect Barack Obama's appointments of Timothy Geithner as Secretary of Treasury and Lawrence Summers to head the National Economic Council. Both are members of the CGD Board of Directors. This is no coincidence.
Everyone says August in Washington, D.C. is quiet. That is of course, unless you are planning to attend the presidential conventions and from what I can tell, just about everyone is sending someone to the conventions. And this time around, CGD is going to both of them.
President Bush is going to Latin America, and that has inspired a round of commentary in the mainstream press. A New York Times editorial urges the President to focus on democracy, human rights and social justice, and applauds the recent doubling of U.S. aid to the region. Democracy and social justice and a dollop of aid (the current budget of $1.6 billion is barely 1 percent of spending by Latin governments on health and education) are good things.
The Copenhagen Consensus Project recently asked a group of 24 UN ambassadors and other diplomats to prioritize a list of 40 global development interventions. The US was there. Their interesting report places heath and sanitation on top, with education and hunger somewhat lower. Trade, financial, and environmental policies received lowest priority, due in part to political infeasibility.
There have been many many bad ideas over the years about how to help Africa, but here’s my vote for the worst one in a long while: UNCTAD’s proposal to create a new UN agency to manage a doubling of aid flows to the continent.
Before we get to the proposed solution, the analysis of the problem is deeply flawed. According to the press release:
I am pleased to announce the release of the 2006 edition of the Commitment to Development Index. Each year the CDI rates and ranks 21 rich countries on how much their policies help or hurt poorer nations. The CDI assigns scores in seven policy areas (foreign aid, trade, investment, migration, environment, security, and technology), with the average being the overall score.
Recently DfID, the British aid agency, issued the third White Paper in its series on Eliminating World Poverty, this one focused on Making governance work for the poor. Yesterday I was privileged to join a panel at the IMF where Mark Lowcock, DfID's Director General for Policy and International, gave an overview of the immensely ambitious and wide ranging Paper and the rationale for the commitments it makes.