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We are at the start of what promises to be an unusually difficult year in the global economy. Policy decisions in the United States and other rich world countries will matter immensely for poor and vulnerable people living in developing 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.
The U.S. Congress launched a new bipartisan Caucus for Congressional-World Bank Dialogue at a packed event on Capitol Hill July 16. The caucus, co-chaired by Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Betty McCollum (D-MN), provides a forum for members of Congress to engage the World Bank, parliamentarians and policy experts on poverty reduction, global development and trade.
A Washington Post editorial today ( A Fight Over Corruption ) says that the new report by former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker on the effectiveness of the World Bank's anti-corruption department, (the Institutional Integrity Department or INT)) "reserved its toughest language for the bank bureaucracy itself." The editorial then quotes from the report:
Today the Volcker Commission released a report with a set of recommendations about how the World Bank can strengthen its anti-corruption procedures by reforming its Department of Institutional Integrity. This is an important and timely conversation and the report will no doubt receive a high level of attention. But it is equally important that the Bank does not put corruption ahead of its central task—the alleviation of poverty.
Yesterday Robert Zoellick was elected by unanimous vote by the Board of the World Bank to become its next president. He now assumes The Hardest Job in the World, as we called it in a 2005 CGD report to the then-incoming president, Paul Wolfowitz. Mr. Zoellick is an avid reader -- and absorbs ideas and issues like a sponge. This bodes well for the Bank and for Bank staff. Informal meetings he has had with officials around the world, activists, and Bank watchers in Washington's leading think tanks indicate Mr.
The FT notes that talks have begun for the IDA-15 replenishment round. This is the latest set of negotiations that take place every three years where the World Bank asks its shareholders for cash to provide grants or to buy down the interest rates for its lending to poor countries--and when the donors typically load up the Bank with new conditions. Although these talks are often tough, the donors almost always increase their contributions.
"giv[ing] more of a voice to less wealthy and poor countries;…find[ing] new ways to mobilize private sector financing; [and] addressing global challenges like epidemics, sustainable energy and post-conflict reconstruction."
*This post is co-authored by Kaysie Brown
The World Bank's Operations Evaluation Division has just released a lengthy report documenting a rise in the world's "fragile states" and drawing a direct connection between state weakness and transnational threats. As Karen DeYoung reports in today's Washington Post,
“Fragile" countries, whose deepening poverty puts them at risk from terrorism, armed conflict and epidemic disease, have jumped to 26 from 17 since the report was last issued in 2000.
Increased attention to development and stability in fragile states by both the World Bank and the U.S. Government signals the importance of and challenges associated with providing assistance in these critical yet vulnerable states. CGD recently launched the Engaging Fragile States initiative to focus on key unanswered questions for the development community working in these tough environments. A quick read of the Bank report raises a number of issues that our work is focusing on: