Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

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April 1, 2002

Delivering on Debt Relief

Over the last several years, the United States and other major donor countries have supported a historic initiative to write down the official debts of a group of heavily indebted poor countries, or HIPCs. Donor countries had two primary goals in supporting debt relief: to reduce countries' debt burdens to levels that would allow them to achieve sustainable growth; and to promote a new way of assisting poor countries focused on home-grown poverty alleviation and human development. While the current "enhanced HIPC" program of debt relief is more ambitious than any previous initiative, it will fall short of meeting these goals. We propose expanding the HIPC program to include all low-income countries and increasing the resources dedicated to debt relief. Because debt relief will still only be a first step, we also recommend reforms of the current "aid architecture" that will make debt more predictably sustainable, make aid more efficient, and help recipient countries graduate from aid dependence.

Brian Deese
March 1, 2002

The Cartel of Good Intentions: Markets vs. Bureaucracy in Foreign Aid - Working Paper 4

The tragedy of foreign aid is not that it didn't work; it was never really tried. A group of well-meaning national and international bureaucracies dispensed foreign aid under conditions in which bureaucracy does not work well. The hostile environment under which such aid agencies functioned induced them to organize a cartel that increased inefficiency and reduced effective supply of development services, frustrating the good intentions and dedication of development professionals. The cartel of good intentions allows rich country politicians to feel that they are doing all in their power to help the world's poor, supports rich nations' foreign policy goals, preserves a panoply of large national and international institutions, and provides resources to poor country politicians with which to buy political support; in short, foreign aid works for everyone except for those whom it was intended to help.

February 2, 2002

External Advisors and Privatization in Transition Economies - Working Paper 3

This paper analyzes privatization and enterprise reform of three major countries in the transition region; Poland, Czechoslovakia (subsequently the Czech Republic), and the Soviet Union (subsequently Russia). For each, it discusses the prevailing ideologies of advisors prior to and during the transition process, the initial conditions faced by reformers and advisors, the policy frameworks that evolved, the results achieved, the mistakes made, and the opportunities missed.

John Nellis
Cover of Washington Contentious: Economic Policies for Social Equity in Latin America
January 1, 2001

Washington Contentious: Economic Policies for Social Equity in Latin America

At the end of the 1990s the future of Latin America seemed grim in the face of four devastating problems—slow and unsteady economic growth, persistent poverty, social injustice, and personal insecurity. For 10 years Latin America had pursued—with considerable vigor—the 10 economic policies that make up the Washington Consensus, the growth formula promoted by the U.S. Treasury and the international financial institutions. But performance fell far short of expectations, and a new approach was needed.

Nancy Birdsall , Augusto de la Torre and Rachel Menezes

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