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December 14, 2018

Global and Local Challenges in Argentina and Brazil

The last presidential elections in Argentina (2015) and in Brazil (2018), represent a change from populism towards more orthodox economic policies in two important countries in the region. This shift is not only economic but also reflects other fundamental changes in the electorate, in particular the growing dissatisfaction of the population with issues such as weak security and growing corruption in political institutions.

The Nepalese army unloads disaster relief supplies after the Nepal earthquake.  Photo by: Kashish Das Shrestha for USAID
December 12, 2018

Joint Humanitarian Operations: How to Bring US Humanitarian Assistance into the 21st Century

The US has long sought enhanced coherence, quality, and efficiency from its UN and NGO partners; it is time that the US government place these same demands upon itself. As the US Government grapples with how best to reconfigure its humanitarian engagement, it should adopt a Goldwater-Nichols approach: a strategy that does not collapse together the distinctive institutional roles and strengths of USAID and State, but rather unifies US humanitarian field operations and policy engagement and builds dramatically greater interoperability between their models.

Cover of "Reading the Missing Profits of Nations"
November 16, 2018

Reading the Missing Profits of Nations

“The Missing Profits of Nations,” by Thomas Tørsløv, Ludvig Wier, and Gabriel Zucman is a recent high-profile study seeking to assess profit shifting by multinational corporations. Headlines such as “40 percent of multinational profits are shifted” are at risk of being misinterpreted as indicating potential revenue gains that are higher than their findings suggest.

Maya Forstater
map of Krishna
November 7, 2018

Digital Governance: Is Krishna a Glimpse of the Future?

Earlier this year we undertook a field study of Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh (AP), together with collaborators from Microsave, to understand the experience and perceptions around digital governance reforms. Our three surveys—of households, ration shop owners, and bank correspondents—find widespread support for digital governance reforms, including the use of Aadhaar authentication to receive food rations through the public distribution system (PDS) and social pensions through the panchayat, as well as for digital land records. However, we also find some areas for improvement. 

emergency medical supplies
October 23, 2018

Fit for the Future: Envisioning New Approaches to Humanitarian Response

For more than a decade, reform efforts have attempted to put crisis-affected people at the center of humanitarian response, and make the system more cohesive and responsive. These reforms have produced ever-heavier coordination systems and technocratic guidance, but have targeted the symptoms of the system’s shortcomings rather than the causes. Traditional humanitarian response remains plagued by deep power imbalances, needless rivalries between organizations, and perverse institutional incentives. A new approach is badly needed—one that builds on the aspirations of earlier reform efforts while explicitly tackling the red-line issues that have long undermined them. A new multi-year research initiative at the Center for Global Development (CGD) aims to do just that: develop concrete, pragmatic, and actionable reform options to overhaul the outdated power structures and institutional incentives that have long skewed the humanitarian system’s behavior.

Stalls in a market in Port Victoria, Seychelles
October 15, 2018

Let’s Be Real: The Informal Sector and the Gig Economy are the Future, and the Present, of Work in Africa

It’s time we recognized the truth about the future of work in Africa: it isn’t in the growth of full-time formal sector jobs. The future of work will be people working multiple gigs with “somewhat formal” entities. This is already true, and it will be for the foreseeable future. When we consider the future of work in Africa the question shouldn’t be whether jobs will be formal or informal, but how digital platforms and new technologies might make this type of work more productive and of a better quality for workers themselves.

Stock photo of the control panel of an airplane
August 13, 2018

The Risks of Dangerous Dashboards in Basic Education

Many countries’ systems of basic education are in “stall” condition.

A recent paper of Beatty et al. (2018) uses information from the Indonesia Family Life Survey, a representative household survey that has been carried out in several waves with the same individuals since 2000 and contains information on whether individuals can answer simple arithmetic questions. Figure 1, showing the relationship between the level of schooling and the probability of answering a typical question correctly, has two shocking results.

August 6, 2018

Knowledge or its Adoption?

I argue that we did learn two very important things from growth research, and these were learned from research in the strong sense that they changed people’s views from a previous view that was incorrect.

Nicolas Maduro speaking at an event. Photo by Carlos Rodríguez/Andes.
August 6, 2018

The Venezuelan Migrant Crisis: Forging a Model for Regional Response

An economic, political, and humanitarian crisis has driven more than one million Venezuelans across the border into Colombia in the past year. Countries hosting Venezuelans have done so with relative welcome, keeping their borders open and offering some services and protection to migrants. But additional significant financial and other support will be required to meet the needs of both migrants and hosts.

Donald Trump speaking at 2017 CPAC conference. Photo by Gage Skidmore
July 10, 2018

Trump’s Protectionist Threat to Latin America

The economic impacts of Donald Trump’s trade dispute with China have so far been limited, but the countries of Latin America are nonetheless paying an early price. For a region where many economies are already constrained by weakened fiscal positions, the additional uncertainty caused by rising protectionism is especially unwelcome.

Fan of Pakistani rupees - Adobe stock photo
July 3, 2018

Why Does Pakistan Have Repeated Macroeconomic Crises?

Over the past 50 years, Pakistan’s record on macroeconomic management has been mixed. The next crisis is now approaching. Most economists agree that the post-election government will have no alternative but to approach the IMF yet again for another bailout with associated policy conditionality. Against this background, this note examines three questions that economists both within and outside Pakistan are asking.

An aerial view of the Za'atri camp in Jordan for Syrian refugees on July 18, 2013. State Department photo/Public Domain.
June 28, 2018

Refugee Spending and the Macroeconomic Program in Jordan

Even with international assistance, the cost of providing refuge to so many people has strained the budget of the Jordanian government. At the same time, international partners, notably the IMF, have been insisting that Jordan take actions to bring down government debt to “more sustainable levels” through increasing fiscal discipline to tame government deficits. These dual imperatives by the international community—host more refugees and tame the budget—seem to put Jordan in an untenable situation as long as the refugee crisis continues. Something will have to give—the question is how, what, and when?

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