While most technical assessments classify privatization as a success, it remains widely and increasingly unpopular, largely because of the perception that it is fundamentally unfair, both in conception and execution. We review the increasing (but still uneven) literature and conclude that most privatization programs appear to have worsened the distribution of assets and income, at least in the short run. This is more evident in transition economies than in Latin America, and less clear for utilities such as electricity and telecommunications, where the poor have tended to benefit from much greater access, than for banks, oil companies, and other natural resource producers.
This paper defines seven principles to guide the design and implementation of the Millennium Challenge Account" (MCA), a new compact for development announced by President Bush in March. It assumes that MCA resources will be targeted to low-income countries that have limited, if any, access to private capital markets for sovereign debt, and for whom borrowing from the World Bank and other multilaterals is limited; and that the MCA will be an additional program to those already financed and administered by the U.S. government, which have related but not identical objectives, and affect a set of countries that is not necessarily the same.