After months of speculation, we are finally getting some clarity on the broad outlines—and internal debates—of development policy under the Trump administration. Here are five main takeaways from hearings with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and USAID administrator nominee Mark Green:
CGD Policy Blogs
The terminology describing economic programs for women has changed—actions to “empower women economically” have replaced efforts to “increase women’s economic participation and income.” This shift in language makes sense intuitively and has solid conceptual backing (in the work of Amartya Sen, for example) but, is there a difference between economic advancement and empowerment? And have measures changed in tandem with this change in terminology?
Misunderstandings about the scale of multinational tax avoidance are common. The origin story for an erroneous $1 trillion figure is a case of bad lip reading, but its proliferation reflects the belief that there are absolutely huge sums of money for development at stake from cracking down on multinational tax avoidance. The figure itself may be ridiculous but these myths are serious—they undermine both trust in revenue authorities and businesses, overheat disputes, and make it harder to judge practical progress on improving tax systems and compliance.
When you read what economists have to say about development, it is easy to be disheartened about the prospects for poor countries. One big reason is that slow changing institutional factors are seen as key to development prospects. I’ve just published a CGD book that’s a little more optimistic: Results Not Receipts: Counting the Right Things in Aid and Corruption.
We present results below from a survey of shop owners who are part of the Indian government’s Akshay Urja Solar Shops program. To our knowledge, the Akshay Urja program has not previously been evaluated. These results build on a case study featured in an upcoming CGD policy paper on clean energy access entitled, “Financing for Whom by Whom? Complexities of Advancing Energy Access in India.”
At a recent budget hearing, committee chairman Hal Rogers drew Mnuchin’s attention to the fact that the “past due” notices from the World Bank and regional MDBs are now approaching a record $2 billion. Mnuchin acknowledged a problem, expressed some degree of mystification about federal budget accounting, and pledged to get things in order. So what’s all of this about?
Why are the world’s scarcest economic resources devoted to economizing one of the world’s most abundant economic resources?
The controversy surrounding the recent purchase of Venezuelan government bonds by Goldman Sachs is a great reminder of the role that “preemptive contract sanctions” could play in the struggle against odious regimes like that of Nicolas Maduro. In 2010, CGD released a working group report explaining in detail how this new sanctions tool could work. The Maduro regime in Venezuela could be the perfect candidate.