I have just finished teaching a course at the School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University on long-run economic development. At the urging of some of my CGD colleagues, I have put together a reading list that should be of interest to a broader development audience because it includes, in addition to the normal academic readings, a large number of fictional and nonfictional books and articles that have enhanced my understanding of economic development.
CGD Policy Blogs
The spread of knowledge and ideas should help close the gap between rich countries and poor. That’s why technology transfer is one of the seven components of CGD’s Commitment to Development Index (CDI).
In an op-ed last week, “Reading Piketty in India,” I noted how poor the U.S. was in the mid-19th century. As best I can determine from the data available, the proportion of America’s population living below India’s poverty line was roughly as high then as it is in India today.
The White House and the House of Representatives have weighed in on how the United States can help bring electricity to millions of Africans and also reposition US engagement with the continent. Supportive legislation is now up to the Senate, and specifically the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Robert Menendez (D-NJ).
Within the last two weeks, top American and Chinese officials completed major trips to Sub-Saharan Africa. In classic Chinese style, Premier Li signed a laundry list of commercial deals and bilateral agreements across four countries.
I have had the privilege of living and working in West Africa for the past 15 years. In 2007, I spent several months in northern Nigeria, interviewing grain traders in cross-border markets. These markets were some of my favorite places in West Africa—bustling, chaotic, open-air markets that brought together hundreds of farmers, traders and consumers, all from different villages and cultures, to exchange, talk and trade. I enjoyed walking through those markets, observing, negotiating and asking questions.
Many governments try to reduce poverty and inequality through a mixture of taxes, transfers, and public services. Individual policies, such as taxation or cash transfers, are frequently evaluated on how well they address these goals. But the overall impact of a country’s fiscal policy package on poverty and inequality has rarely been subject to systematic analysis—until now.
The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the Electrify Africa Act later tonight. This legislation would increase the US government’s efforts to promote reliable and affordable electricity for the roughly 600 million Africans that currently live without it. It aims to mobilize all US development tools, ranging from technical assistance grants to risk insurance to long-term debt financing for private investors.
This past weekend, Secretary Kerry delivered what was billed as a major address on US-Africa policy and a scene setter for President Obama’s Africa Summit in August. Kerry traveled throughout the region over the last week, making stops in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Angola. As the list of countries suggest, the trip focused heavily on security hotspots. However, the so-called ‘Commitment to Africa’ speech was his big opportunity to reach beyond current crises and outline his broader vision for US engagement in the region. So, did he hit the right notes?