Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity



May 24, 2005

Ten Myths of the International Finance Facility - Working Paper 60

The British proposal to create an International Finance Facility in order to 'frontload' $50 billion in aid per year until 2015 has generated a lot of attention and will likely be a major topic at the G8 meeting this July. But the IFF has also been shrouded in confusion and misconceptions. This paper explains the IFF proposal and highlights some of the common misunderstandings surrounding it, including the mechanics of the scheme itself, the potential for a U.S. role, and the expectations of aid which underlie the IFF’s premise. The UK deserves plaudits for elevating global poverty on the international agenda and for seeking ways to better harness the power of private capital markets for development. But the IFF, as currently conceived, is an idea that merits more scrutiny and a healthy dose of skepticism.

May 20, 2005

Financial Regulations in Developing Countries: Can they Effectively Limit the Impact of Capital Account Volatility? - Working Paper 59

After more than a decade of financial sector liberalization, both of domestic markets and of international financial transactions (capital account liberalization), policymakers in many developing countries remain concerned about the effects that large and highly volatile capital flows have on their financial systems. However, in spite of the tremendous costs associated with the resolution of crises and signs of discontent among the population with the outcome of some reforms, to date there is no significant evidence indicating a reversal of the reform process. While one could advance a number of hypotheses explaining this "commitment to reforms," developing countries’ decisions and actions seem to indicate that policymakers perceive capital inflows as a necessary component to achieve growth and development.

Cover of A Better Globalization: Legitimacy, Governance, and Reform
March 1, 2005

A Better Globalization: Legitimacy, Governance, and Reform

A Better Globalization: Legitimacy, Governance, and Reform by Kemal Dervis is a reformist manifesto that argues that gradual institutional change can produce beneficial results if it is driven by an ambitious long-term vision and by a determination to continually widen the limits of the possible.

Kemal Dervis and Ceren Özer
February 18, 2005

Business Environment and Comparative Advantage in Africa: Evidence from the Investment Climate Data - Working Paper 56

This paper ties together the macroeconomic and microeconomic evidence on the competitiveness of African manufacturing sectors. The conceptual framework is based on the newer theories that see the evolution of comparative advantage as influenced by the business climate—a key public good—and by external economies between clusters of firms entering in related sectors. Macroeconomic data from purchasing power parity (PPP), though imprecisely measured, estimates confirms that Africa is high-cost relative to its levels of income and productivity. This finding is compared with firm-level evidence from surveys undertaken for Investment Climate Assessments in 2000-2004.

June 10, 2004

Is Africa’s Skepticism of Foreign Capital Justified? Evidence from East African Firm Survey Data - Working Paper 41

The world has increasingly recognized that private capital has a vital role to play in economic development. African countries have moved to liberalize the investment environment, yet have not received much FDI. At least part of this poor performance is because of lingering skepticism toward foreign investment, owing to historical, ideological, and political reasons. Results from our three-country sample suugest that many of the common objections to foreign investment are exaggerated or false. Africa, by not attracting more FDI, is therefore failing to fully benefit from the potential of foreign capital to contribute to economic development and integration with the global economy.

Todd J. Moss , Vijaya Ramachandran and Manju Kedia Shah
July 29, 2003

Economic Policy and Wage Differentials in Latin America - Working Paper 29

This paper applies a new approach to the estimation of the impact of policy, both the levels and the changes, on wage differentials using a new high-quality data set on wage differentials by schooling level for 18 Latin American countries for the period 1977–1998. The results indicate that liberalizing policy changes overall have had a short-run disequalizing effect of expanding wage differentials, although this effect tends to fade away over time.

updated 07/04/2006

Jere R. Behrman and Miguel Székely
April 1, 2003

From Promise to Performance: How Rich Countries Can Help Poor Countries Help Themselves

At the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000 the nations of the world committed to join forces to meet a set of measurable targets for reducing world poverty, disease, illiteracy and other indicators of human misery—all by the year 2015. These targets, later named the Millennium Development Goals, include seven measures of human development in poor countries. At the same summit, world leaders took on several qualitative targets applicable to rich countries, later collected in an eighth Goal. The key elements of the eighth Goal, pledge financial support and policy changes in trade, debt relief, and other areas to assist poor countries'domestic efforts to meet the first seven Goals. Combined, the eight Goals constitute a global compact between poor and rich to work today toward their mutual interests to secure a prosperous future.

December 20, 2002

World Bank Capital Neither Complements Nor Substitutes for Private Capital - Working Paper 20

What should the World Bank optimally do with the US$10 to $20 billion it can loan each year? Has it, in fact, done what is optimal? This study suggests a simple framework within which to measure the World Bank against an optimal international public financier for development. It goes on to argue that a careful treatment of the empirical evidence on Bank lending strongly contradicts optimal behavior under different assumptions. The evidence, in fact, rejects any notion that the Bank has substituted for private capital or that it has successfully catalyzed private development finance.

Michael A. Clemens
December 19, 2002

Do Rich Countries Invest Less in Poor Countries than the Poor Countries Themselves? - Working Paper 19

Global private capital flows have barely touched the poorest nations; the rich invest mostly with the rich. It is possible that failures in the global capital market prevent capital from exploiting high returns in poor countries; it is also possible that fundamental returns to investment are lower in poor countries. In this paper, a novel empirical framework uses standard data to conclude that 85% of wealth bias, whether caused by market failure or not, is domestic in origin. That is, poor country lenders are deterred from investing in poor countries to nearly the same degree that rich-country lenders are.

Michael A. Clemens
October 30, 2002

Policy Selectivity Foregone: Debt and Donor Behavior in Africa - Working Paper 17

We assess the dynamic behind the high net resource transfers of donors and creditors, IDA, bilaterals, IBRD, IMF and other multilateral creditors to the countries of sub-Saharan Africa in the 1980s and 1990s. Analyzing a panel of 37 recipient countries over the years 1978-98, we find that net transfers were greater in poorer and smaller countries. The quality of countries' policy framework mattered little, however, in determining overall net transfers.

Ishac Diwan
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