CGD in the News

U.S. Foreign Aid Boss Highlights Success in Exit Memo, but Critics Say It's Time to Overhaul the Agency (Los Angeles Times)


Scott Morris, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Center for Global Development, said much would depend on the Trump administration’s pick for leadership of USAID. “We just don’t know,” he said ... Morris, who also directs the Center for Global Development’s U.S. Development Policy Initiative, said Feed the Future and Power Africa stood out as key accomplishments. “Frankly, it would not have been obvious eight years ago that one would want to empower USAID with these major presidential initiatives in terms of the capacity of the agency,” Morris said. “I think that really has been a mark of change that they have successfully led these major presidential initiatives.”

Kicking out Immigrants Doesn’t Raise Wages (The Economist)


Michael Clemens and Hannah Postel of the Centre for Global Development, and Ethan Lewis of Dartmouth College, have used archived records of American agricultural jobs and wages to test whether Kennedy was right. Did ending the bracero scheme in 1964 in fact lead to higher wages and more work for Americans in the fields? 

Gambia Stands Up (Foreign Affairs)


As multiparty democracies come under increasing pressure around the world, West Africa has emerged as a bright spot. In recent years, Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia, and Sierra Leone have successfully used elections to help recover from civil conflicts. Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal have experienced peaceful transitions of power between competing political parties. And just last month, Gambia, mainland Africa's smallest country, ousted a longtime tyrant, Yahya Jammeh, and installed a democratically elected president, Adama Barrow.

Trump's Expanded Mexico City Policy Could Affect Fight Against Zika, HIV/AIDS (NBC Washington)


Charles Kenny, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, noted that with the Mexico City Policy in place, foreign NGOs are forced to choose between private and European donors, who require full access to reproductive care that includes abortion, and American aid. This cuts the overall resources at their disposal. “You are asking them to make a choice about, ‘Are we going to let some of our clients die?’” he said. “It’s a moral conundrum that I think is horrible.” Kenny also recognized that restricting abortions usually doesn’t stem demand. Young women without legal options tend to seek illegal, unsafe, or traditional alternatives that often lead to health complications, he said. “It seems a policy without any kind of empirical justification and with all sorts of terrible effects,” Kenny said. “Just google stick abortions. It’s not pleasant.”

Visas as Aid (The Economist)


A new study by Michael Clemens and Hannah Postel of the Centre for Global Development compares those Haitians who secured visas through the project with unsuccessful applicants left behind. The benefits were mind-boggling: the temporary migrants earned a monthly income 1,400% higher than those back in Haiti. Most of their earnings flowed back home in the form of remittances. For comparison, a 10-30% raise would normally be cause for celebration. The sample for the study was small. But its findings match those for a similar scheme that offered temporary agricultural work in New Zealand to people from Tonga and Vanuatu. That policy was assessed by economists at the World Bank as “among the most effective development policies evaluated to date”.

How Do You Know If Aid Really Works? Turns out ... We Often Don't (NPR)


Even at the World Bank and USAID, only a small portion of projects are subject to impact evaluations, agreed Amanda Glassman, chief operating officer and senior fellow at the Center for Global Development. Every year, her group does an exhaustive review to identify large-scale health programs that made a big impact. Of about 250 that they looked through this past year, "only 50 used rigorous methods to establish the attributable impact. And none of the very largest programs in global health had done any impact evaluation" of the type she argues are needed — including two major international nonprofit organizations: Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis as well as GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance. This doesn't mean the health products that these health programs use — medicines or vaccines, for instance — haven't been proven effective through, say, medical trials or studies of what happens to the incidence of disease when you vaccinate a certain population, explained Glassman.

Trump, Mnuchin Could Use Obscure Committee to Ignite Trade Wars (The Hill)


During his confirmation hearing Thursday, Treasury Secretary-designate Steven Mnuchin offered a glimpse into an obscure, but powerful government committee that could join an emerging toolkit the Trump administration could use to launch a global trade war.Asked about the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), an interagency committee chaired by the secretary of the treasury, Mnuchin tipped his hand by referring to the committee’s role in “protecting American workers.” But CFIUS is decidedly not about worker protections or economic protectionism.

Britain Gambles on Free Trade Deal with Europe (CNN)


The fact that the U.K. and EU are starting from a position of completely free trade may help the process, said Ian Mitchell, a senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development in Europe. "The fact we already have tariff-free trade with the EU may make the negotiation easier," he said ... Britain could set the same tariffs that the EU has in place, including on dairy products, meat, autos and textiles, said Mitchell. Or it could set tariffs at zero to boost trade with international partners, he said.

Tom Hiddleston at Golden Globes: Maybe Not the Best Charity Spokesman (NPR)


Rajesh Mirchandani, the vice president of communications at the Center for Global Development, agrees. But there is a down side, he notes: Celebrities can be distracting because of their celebrity. "If they [celebrities] are too famous, or infamous, the media is going to be more interested in their personal doings than the project they are supposed to be fronting," he said. 

What Does the Trump Administration Mean for Power Africa? (Forbes)


Power Africa, President Obama’s signature African electrification push, is in limbo. The initiative was launched in June 2013, but—consistent with the nature of large-scale long-term infrastructure investments—is really just getting started. Until we see key appointments (e.g., OPIC president, USAID administrator, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs) we probably won’t know what’s in store for Power Africa under a Trump administration.