“Events since the election have only reinforced that pessimism. We have heard lots of rhetoric on democracy, national reconciliation, and economic reform. We can point to a few token gestures of change. But below the surface, very little, if any, meaningful structural change has occurred.”
Testimony on US Sanctions Policy in sub-Saharan Africa. CGD chief operating officer and senior fellow Todd Moss testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health at a hearing examining the utility of sanctions as an instrument for achieving US policy objectives in Africa.
How Does OPIC Balance Risks, Additionality, and Development? Proposals for Greater Transparency and Stoplight Filters
As the U.S. government’s development finance institution, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) provides investors with financing, political risk insurance, and support for private equity investment funds when commercial funding cannot be obtained elsewhere. Its mandate is to mobilize private capital to help address critical development challenges and to advance U.S. foreign policy and national security priorities. However, balancing risks, financial needs, and development benefits comes with tradeoffs.
Todd Moss, Caroline Lambert, and Stephanie Majerowicz offer a well-argued explanation of how oil-to-cash transfers could help countries overcome the corruption, economic volatility, and lack of government accountability that too often plague countries with rich resources but weak institutions.
This paper lists—and attempts to address—the most serious objections to Oil-to-Cash. The response to many objections is to ask about a plausible counterfactual (how do cash transfers compare to the alternative policy options?). Others warrant a clearer articulation of available evidence or ways to mitigate real worries through smart program design.
Reliance on natural resource revenues, particularly oil, is often associated with bad governance, corruption, and poverty. Worried about the effect of oil on Alaska, Governor Jay Hammond had a simple yet revolutionary idea: let citizens have a direct stake. Thirty years later, Hammond’s vision is still influencing oil policies throughout the world.
Direct Redistribution, Taxation, and Accountability in Oil-Rich Economies: A Proposal - Working Paper 281
To enhance efficiency of public spending in oil-rich economies, this paper proposes that some of the oil revenues be transferred directly to citizens, and then taxed to finance public expenditures. The argument is that spending that is financed by taxation—rather than by resource revenues accruing directly to the government—is more likely to be scrutinized by citizens and hence subject to greater efficiency.
Todd Moss proposes that countries seeking to manage new natural resource wealth should consider distributing income directly to citizens as cash transfers. Beyond serving as a powerful and proven policy intervention, cash transfers may also mitigate the corrosive effect natural resource revenue often has on governance.
CGD vice president and senior fellow Todd Moss and reasearch assistant Lauren Young propose direct cash distribution of Ghana's oil profits to help the country avoid the natural resource curse. One positive effect of the plan would be to strenghten democratic pressure on the government to be good stewards of the resource.
Bill Easterly calls Moss's new introduction to Africa "compulsively readable and accessible" and "a masterpiece of clear thinking." Each chapter is organized around three fundamental questions: Where are we now? How did we get to this point? What are the current debates?
Diamonds, long seen as symbols of love and prosperity, are now blamed for war and corruption in some of the poorest places on earth. But do all diamonds fuel conflict and strife? In this CGD Note program associate Kaysie Brown and senior fellow Todd Moss consider the strengths and limitations of industry efforts to break the deadly link between diamonds and conflict, most notably through the Kimberley Process, which certifies that a diamond has been obtained legitimately. They find that the Kimberley Process, which has helped turn conflict diamonds into development diamonds, is a good thing but it could be even better. They also offer consumers tips on how to buy conflict-free diamonds.
An Aid-Institutions Paradox? A Review Essay on Aid Dependency and State Building in Sub-Saharan Africa- Working Paper 74
Does foreign aid help develop public institutions and state capacity in developing countries? In this Working Paper, the authors suggest that despite recent calls for increased aid to poor countries by the international community, there may be an "aid-institutions paradox." While donor intentions may be sincere, the authors conclude that it is possible that aid could undermine long-term institutional development, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.
Zimbabwe has experienced a precipitous collapse in its economy over the past five years. The government blames its economic problems on external forces and drought. We assess these claims, but find that the economic crisis has cost the government far more in key budget resources than has the donor pullout. We show that low rainfall cannot account for the shock either. This leaves economic misrule as the only plausible cause of Zimbabwe’s economic regression, the decline in welfare, and unnecessary deaths of its children.
The Global War on Terror and U.S. Development Assistance: USAID allocation by country, 1998-2005 - Working Paper 62
The launch of the Global War on Terror (GWOT) soon after September 11, 2001 has been predicted to fundamentally alter U.S. foreign aid programs. In particular, there is a common expectation that development assistance will be used to support strategic allies in the GWOT, perhaps at the expense of anti-poverty programs. In this paper we assess changes in country allocation by USAID over 1998-2001 versus 2002-05. We find that any major changes in aid allocation related to the GWOT appear to be affecting only a handful of critical countries, namely, Iraq, Afghanistan, Jordan, and the Palestinian Territories. Concerns that there is a large and systematic diversion of U.S. foreign aid from fighting poverty to fighting the GWOT do not so far appear to have been realized.
Although nearly all poor countries are classified by the World Bank as IDA-only, Nigeria stands out as a notable exception. Indeed, Africa’s most populous country is the poorest country in the world that is not classified as IDA-only. Under the World Bank’s own criteria, however, Nigeria has a strong case for reclassification. IDA-only status would have two potential benefits for Nigeria. First, it would expand Nigeria’s access to IDA resources and make the country eligible for grants. Second, it would strengthen Nigeria’s case for debt reduction. With a renewed economic reform effort getting under way and the emerging use of debt reduction as a tool for assisting economic and political transitions, the UK, the US, and other official creditors should support such a move as part of a broader strategy for encouraging progress in one of Africa’s most important countries.