Globalization is under attack in the West. The debate among pundits is no longer about whether globalization is to blame or not. It is about why globalization is now the bugaboo it has become. A common thread are changes, for the worse, in the economic and social standing of the Western middle class.
The two economic developments that have garnered the most attention in recent years are the concentration of massive wealth in the richest one percent of the world’s population and the tremendous, growth-driven decline in extreme poverty in the developing world, especially in China. But just as important has been the emergence of large middle classes in developing countries around the planet. This phenomenon—the result of more than two decades of nearly continuous fast-paced global economic growth—has been good not only for economies but also for governance. After all, history suggests that a large and secure middle class is a solid foundation on which to build and sustain an effective, democratic state. Middle classes not only have the wherewithal to finance vital services such as roads and public education through taxes; they also demand regulations, the fair enforcement of contracts, and the rule of law more generally—public goods that create a level social and economic playing field on which all can prosper.
Last year, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) management proposed a major financial restructuring that would increase the amount of bank capital available for investment. This proposal offers many benefits in and of itself. But it also creates an opening for additional and complementary changes in governance that would greatly strengthen the bank and would ensure all of the benefits of the restructuring are fully captured. The merger proposal represents a highly credible down payment by the ADB on a set of innovations that can greatly expand the institution’s ability to respond to the region’s needs and opportunities—and in the process, stimulate similar dynamics at other MDBs.
The current size of the income-secure middle class and its likely future growth, suggest that optimism is indeed warranted for many of today’s middle-income countries. But it is not warranted for all of them, and especially not for most of the low-income countries of South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa — even if they continue to grow at the relatively healthy rates they have enjoyed in the last decade and more.
J. Brian Atwood, chair of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC), analyzes the process and achievements of the Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, held in Busan, South Korea, in 2011.
A new focus on measuring development results would have far-reaching benefits for U.S. development strategy, for U.S. public diplomacy efforts, and for the strength of Pakistan’s democratic institutions. In this essay, Nancy Birdsall and Wren Elhai suggest five possible indicators that illustrate the type of measurable targets that could help the United State and Pakistan meet shared goals for effective and transparent development.
This essay draws on the work of the Center for Global Development's Study Group on U.S. Development Strategy in Pakistan and on the ideas in the group's open letters to Ambassador Richard Holbrooke to present five recommendations for spending aid money well in Pakistan.
In this CGD Essay, Birdsall and Subramianian argue that the World Bank faces twin crises of relevance and legitimacy in a rapidly changing world. The solution, they argue, is for the bank to become a more active catalyst for generating global public goods and knowledge and a more reluctant lender to governments. The World Bank should move, in effect, from being a bank to being a global development cooperative. The essay suggests specific, practical steps for such reforms.
In this Essay, CGD president Nancy Birdsall describes the World Bank as a global club with a structure close to that of a credit union in which the members are nations. Its mission, as originally conceived–-to promote broadly shared and sustainable global prosperity--serves the common interests of all its country members. In light of this idea of the Bank as a global credit club, Birdsall addresses the issues that arise with respect to its current governance structure and how these issues affect the Bank's legitimacy, effectiveness and relevance in the global system.
As the Bush Administration prepares to announce the reorganization of U.S. foreign assistance, Nancy Birdsall, Stewart Patrick and Milan Vaishnav argue in a new essay that making a dent in global poverty will require that the U.S. address four flaws: low volume and poor quality of aid; incoherence in non-aid development policies; lack of a strategy for weak and failing states; and a penchant for unilateral over multilateral action. Related event: Transformational Diplomacy, a talk by Steve Krasner, Director of the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff.