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Development Agencies: Fit for the Future?

Official bilateral and multilateral development agencies are under strain from opposing forces: on the one hand, they are confronted with a world in which the development challenges are interconnected and daunting, and the risks are systemic and increasing; on the other, they are grappling with a world in which ardent nationalism, protectionism, and populism are rising, and rules-based multilateralism is declining.

A hand reaching for medicine on a pharmacy shelf

Are Other Countries to Blame for High US Drug Prices?

Back in February, the US Council of Economic Advisers issued a white paper on drug pricing implying that other rich countries should stop “free riding” off American innovation by negotiating drug prices to unfairly low levels after the US fronts the research and development costs. Perhaps in response, President Trump recently announced a proposal to bring down US drug prices. But until the US corrects the structural flaws in its own healthcare system, these efforts are bound to fall short.

Indonesia

When Foes Become Friends: Indigenous Rights and REDD+ in Indonesia

Last year, Indonesia’s tree cover loss declined by 60 percent to its lowest level since 2003. This kept some 0.2 gigatons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere which, by itself, represented about 0.5 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions that year. Many factors were involved, but one was a tentative shift in domestic politics toward protecting the country’s forests and its indigenous peoples’ rights. This shift could not have been confidently envisioned even a decade ago.

smiling woman at sewing machine

Helping Poor Women Grow Their Businesses with Mobile Savings, Training, and Something More?

Growing a business is not easy, and for women firm owners the challenges can be acute, especially when they are poor and run subsistence level firms. In developing countries, 22 percent of women discontinue their established businesses due to a lack of funds, and women are more likely than men to report exiting their businesses over finance problems, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. Meanwhile, personal savings are a crucial source of entrepreneurial financing, and nearly 95 percent of entrepreneurs globally state that they used their own funds to start or scale up their businesses. Women, however, face unique constraints in accumulating savings to invest in growing their firms.

computer chip

What Robopocalypse?

The Future of Work is all the rage—the latest World Bank World Development Report is dedicated to the issue, the World Economic Forum and McKinsey have issued multiple reports, and "your job is being stolen by a robot" articles are being churned out at a rate that suggests IBM’s Watson has been reprogrammed to deliver 50 think pieces a day. We’ve been here before, of course: dire warnings of a machine age of mass unemployment have been around for at least a century. Is this time different?

What Have We Learned from Expenditure Conditionality in IMF Programs?

As part of borrowing from the IMF, the IMF and the country that is borrowing agree on the implementation of certain policies (conditions) during the program period. The implementation of some conditions is not essential for the continuation of the program, including some pertaining to budgetary expenditures. Their implementation often vary from country to country, and the empirical analysis shows that certain budgetary conditions achieve their intended objectives over the long term, while others do not. In this blog, I explain which budget conditions work, and which don’t work.

Brazil trade graph

Will Brazil Retreat from Its Role in International Development?

Brazil’s newly elected President Jair Bolsonaro has been characterised as an unsavoury anti-globalist—so, will he unwind Brazil’s progress as a development actor over the last two decades? Below, I will highlight Brazil’s important contributions to international development, and argue that Bolsonaro’s best bid to eliminate corruption, restore trust in government institutions, and reinstate the country’s path of prosperity is to finalise Brazil’s OECD membership—becoming its second biggest member by population—while also strengthening partnerships and commitments to fast growing markets in the Global South.

virus

Financing Outbreak Preparedness: Where Are We and What Next?

This week, global leaders gathered at the 5th Global Health Security Agenda Ministerial Meetings in Bali under the overarching theme of “advancing global partnerships” for greater health security. Alongside this event, the World Bank hosted a discussion on preparedness financing at the country level. The panel acknowledged that while countries have begun to pay more attention to pandemic preparedness, much work remains to increase domestic and donor support to national preparedness systems. As the discussions wrap up in Bali and the World Bank heads to its IDA18 midterm review in Zambia next week, we share a few thoughts.

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