Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

CGD in the News

May 4, 2020

WHO's diplomatic balancing act faces new challenge with Trump attacks (The Hill)

From the article:

“President Trump’s attacks on the World Health Organization (WHO) over the coronavirus pandemic are shining a spotlight on the diplomatic balancing act the agency faces as it struggles to navigate the interests of member states that are often working at cross purposes.

The chronically underfunded agency has been at the forefront of the global response to the pandemic, winning praise from public health experts who derided its poor performance just a few years ago during an Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

But many of those same experts say this pandemic has highlighted the fact that the WHO has few real powers. While it can use a megaphone to encourage member nations to take action, agency officials have almost no authority to enforce their guidance — especially when it comes to large nations like the United States or China.

‘The current governance situation requires the World Health Organization to maximize the agreement or assent of the most countries possible to the kinds of actions it takes. So it's always by necessity going to be the lowest common denominator,’ said Amanda Glassman, executive vice president and senior fellow at the Center for Global Development. ‘They have several strategies. One is buttering up, and the other is calling out and shaming…’”

May 4, 2020

Development heavyweights back bigger role for DFIs in COVID-19 response (Devex)

From the article:

“…'[DFIs] need a combination of risk-sharing, capital and new flexibility to respond beyond their capacities in the current stressed situation,” the experts write. “DFIs are the European institutions in the best position to act swiftly in support of the private sector in vulnerable countries by providing emergency credit lines to client institutions before it is too late, something no other institution can do.’

Not everyone is so sure. Mikaela Gavas from the Center for Global Development think tank said it was “rather strong” to portray DFIs as the vital front line in the struggle to preserve African firms.

‘It is going to be local governments and national banks that support their private sectors best,’ Gavas told Devex. DFIs “can certainly play a role,” she said, but cautioned that any capital increases should be contingent on DFIs taking greater risk and being innovative.

The call to action comes at a sensitive time in Brussels, after the European Commission recently decided to postpone budget guarantees intended for smaller DFIs until its next 2021-2027 budget cycle…”

May 4, 2020

What We Know About Crises And Domestic Violence — And What That Could Mean For COVID-19 (FiveThirtyEight)

From the article:

"...Indeed, a 2001 research report from the National Institute of Justice found that rates of violence in couples experiencing high levels of financial stress were 3 1/2 times the rates in couples with low levels of stress — rising to 9.5 percent from 2.7 percent. According to a working paper by the Center for Global Development, the effects of unemployment on IPV vary across populations due to cultural differences, but in the U.S., the NIJ found in 2009 that periods of unemployment by a man in a heterosexual relationship are correlated with significantly elevated rates of abuse. That paper didn’t show a causal link but found that couples in which the man was employed had a 4.7 percent prevalence of abuse, while that figure was 7.5 percent for couples in which the man experienced one period of unemployment and 12.3 percent for couples in which the man experienced two or more periods of unemployment..."

May 4, 2020

More than 90 countries plead for financial lifelines as coronavirus wreaks economic havoc across the globe (Washington Post)

From the article:

“…As global financial leaders prepare for this week’s meetings, the initial focus of the debt standstill talks is a 76-nation group of the world’s poorest countries. The IMF and World Bank want rich country governments to agree to allow countries such as Rwanda, Cambodia and Haiti to delay their debt payments.

‘Going into this crisis, the low-income countries had high levels of debt. … Now this is likely to push a number of them over the edge,’ said Nancy Lee, a senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development.

By rescheduling debt service payments due by the end of 2022, almost $33 billion could be made available for these countries to devote to battling the pandemic. If private bondholders and banks also were brought on board, the total would swell by an additional $18 billion, according to Lee.

At the IMF, Georgieva is the rare economist who can boast of having studied at both the Karl Marx Higher Institute of Economics and MIT. As the pandemic gathered steam, she overhauled the fund’s sometimes lethargic procedures and ordered a halt to nonessential activities.

‘Everything that is not critical for fighting this crisis is set aside,” she said. “ … We have to eradicate [the pandemic] everywhere for the world to breathe a sigh of relief…’”

May 3, 2020

As Latin America and Caribbean seek to reopen economies, Jamaica offers cautionary tale (Miami Herald)

From the article:

“…Unlike many countries in the region, Jamaica never fully shut down its economy amid the global pandemic, even as it aggressively enforced social distancing measures to prevent the spread of the virus. The decision has come with a steep price, and serves as a cautionary tale for others in the region that are starting to ease lockdowns and reopen their economies as cases and fatalities continue to climb.

‘There is no very right answer,’ when it comes to reopening, said Amanda Glassman, executive vice president and senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, a nonprofit Washington-based think tank that focuses on international development.

The key concern is the reproduction rate of the virus. If it can be kept low enough, the disease will dissipate and ‘burn out’— as long as there are no new cases being imported, she said.

‘Of course, all of that depends on the ability of governments to catch [those who are ill] and to do the contact tracing really aggressively,’ added Glassman, an expert on health and social protection in Latin America who previously worked for the Inter-American Development Bank…”

May 1, 2020

10 African Countries Have No Ventilators. That’s Only Part of the Problem. (New York Times)

From the article:

"'We’re thinking about the vaccine, but what if the vials it is stored in, or rubber stoppers in the vial or the plungers in the syringes become the constraint?' said Prashant Yadav, who studies health care supply chains at the Center for Global Development in Washington, D.C.

Timing the orders of medical products like syringes and all the raw materials required to make them will be essential. Medical device manufacturers could increase inventory or find alternative supply chains for products that are running low, but everything will need to be systematically planned. Adding the capacity to make millions more syringes could take a manufacturer as long as 18 months, for example.

'The COVID-19 pandemic is creating industrywide challenges, including expected delays in inventory replenishment for certain products,' said Lucy Bradlow, a spokeswoman for Cardinal Health, a manufacturer that makes vials and syringes as well as other medical supplies."

April 28, 2020

Disease In A Globalized World (NPR)

From the show:

"Globalization has played a strange role in the cycle of pandemics. At first, it made the world more vulnerable to infectious disease. Then, in the nineteenth century, it fueled lifesaving advances in medicine. And those advances, in turn, accelerated globalization further and made the world more and more vulnerable to pandemics like coronavirus.

So, should we give up on globalization? Trade less, travel less, become less interconnected?

Today on the show, we talk to Charles Kenny, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development. He's finishing up a book on the past and future of infectious disease. And one of the most provocative arguments in his book is that instead of trying to reverse globalization, the world should actually embrace it as a powerful force in fighting against infectious diseases."

April 28, 2020

The US is not even ‘remotely’ ready to re-open for business, says outbreak preparedness expert (CNBC)

From the article:

“The U.S. is not even “remotely prepared” to re-open, an expert said on Tuesday as some states are set to lift lockdowns that had been imposed to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

‘We’re not remotely prepared neither in terms of the epidemiology of the outbreak in the United States, nor in terms of our preparedness capacities to begin suppressing this virus in ways other than through social distancing,’ said Jeremy Konyndyk, senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development, a think tank. His expertise includes global outbreak preparedness.

The U.S. has reported more than 988,000 confirmed cases of infection and a death toll of over 56,000 so far, according to John Hopkins University…”

April 24, 2020

'Tough times are ahead': Observers anticipate drop in UK aid budget (Devex)

From the article:

“…The World Bank predicts that remittances — money sent home by migrant workers, which people in many countries depend on — could fall by nearly 20%, the sharpest decline in recent history, as unemployment grows and wages fall.

However, Ian Mitchell, senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development, noted that the drop in ODA is not a given. The 0.7% target ‘is minimum, not a maximum,’ he said via email, highlighting that the government often exceeds its 2% defense spending target.

‘We’re in a global crisis where we’ve rightly massively expanded domestic U.K. spending in spite of the economy shrinking — public [spending] will increase by some £85.5 billion, or 10% according to the OBR — and it follows that poor countries will need support to save lives too,’ he said.”