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Unintended Consequences of Anti–Money Laundering Policies for Poor Countries

11/9/15
Money laundering, terrorism financing and sanctions violations by individuals, banks and other financial entities are serious offenses with significant negative consequences for rich and poor countries alike. Governments have taken important steps to address these offenses. Efforts by international organizations, the US, UK and others to combat money laundering and curb illicit financial flows are a necessary step to increase the safety of the financial system and improve security, both domestically and around the world. But the policies that have been put in place to counter financial crimes may also have unintentional and costly consequences, in particular for people in poor countries. Those most affected are likely to include the families of migrant workers, small businesses that need to access working capital or trade finance, and recipients of life-saving aid in active-conflict, post-conflict or post-disaster situations. And sometimes, current policies may be self-defeating to the extent that they reduce the transparency of financial flows.
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Asking What the People Want: Using Mobile Phone Surveys to Identify Citizen Priorities - Working Paper 418

10/19/15

Using an experimental design, we assess the feasibility of interactive voice recognition (IVR) surveys for gauging citizens’ development priorities. Our project focuses on four low-income countries (Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe). We find that mobile phone-based approaches may be an effective tool for gathering information about citizen priorities.

Look to the Forests: How Performance Payments Can Slow Climate Change

10/14/15

Protecting tropical forests is good for the global climate and good for development in forested countries. In the absence of robust carbon markets, performance-based funding to reduce emissions from deforestation is a key way donors can provide the incentives and commitment tropical countries need to curtail forest loss.

Tropical forests are undervalued assets in the race to avert catastrophic climate change. They deliver a global—and very public— benefit by capturing and storing atmospheric carbon.

The Future of the Multilateral Development Banks

10/13/15

From the testimony: “And while the United States was roundly criticized for its handling of this episode, I think much of that criticism was misguided in putting the focus on the short term bungling of diplomatic outreach, or Congress’s failure to pass IMF reform. Both are relevant, and I very much believe that action on the IMF quota package is critical in its own right, but the challenges to US leadership in the MDBs – institutions like the World Bank and Asian Development Bank where the US is the largest shareholder – run deeper and are longer term in nature.”

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Toward Better Global Poverty Measures - Working Paper 417

9/16/15

The paper discusses three problems in measuring global poverty: (i) how to allow for social effects on welfare, recognizing the identification issues involved; (ii) the need to monitor progress in raising the consumption floor above its biological level; and (iii) addressing the longstanding concerns about prevailing approaches to making inter-country comparisons of price levels facing poor people.

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Doing Cash Differently: How Cash Transfers Can Transform Humanitarian Aid

9/14/15
The High Level Panel on Humanitarian Cash Transfers

The Report of the High Level Panel on Humanitarian Cash Transfers shows why giving aid directly in the form of cash is often a highly effective way to reduce suffering and to make limited humanitarian aid budgets go further. We urge the humanitarian community to give more aid as cash, and to make cash central to future emergency response planning.

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Taxes: Price of Civilization or Tribute to Leviathan? - Working Paper 412

8/31/15
Lant Pritchett and Yamini Aiyar

There are two dominant narratives about taxation.  In one, taxes are the “price we pay for a civilized society” (Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.).  In this view taxes are not a necessary evil (as in the pairing of “death and taxes” as inevitable) but a positive good: more taxes buy more “civilization.” The other view is that taxes are “tribute to Leviathan”—a pure involuntary extraction from those engaged in economic production to those who control coercive power producing no reciprocal benefit.  In this view taxes are a bane of the civilized.   We consider the question of taxes as price versus tribute for contemporary India.

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Inequality and Fiscal Redistribution in Middle Income Countries: Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Indonesia, Mexico, Peru and South Africa - Working Paper 410

8/21/15

This paper examines the redistributive impact of fiscal policy for Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Indonesia, Mexico, Peru and South Africa using comparable fiscal incidence analysis with data from around 2010. The largest redistributive effect is in South Africa and the smallest in Indonesia. While fiscal policy always reduces inequality, this is not the case with poverty.

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Food Security Post-2015: What Countries Need to Do So That Regional Collaboration Can Be Effective

7/31/15

To explain why ending hunger has been so hard, Peter Timmer highlights four main themes: the complex role of markets, the importance of government policies, the historical process of structural transformation, and the need to identify the appropriate time horizon for analysis and interventions. These themes are not new, but integrating them into a coherent approach to ending hunger seems to be original

Taking the Lead on Trade and Development

7/20/15

The United States is not using trade as effectively as it might to promote development. The executive and legislative branches of the US government have long recognized that trade can be an important tool to help poorer countries generate resources, create jobs, and reduce poverty. They also recognize that growth in developing countries contributes to global prosperity and growing markets for US exporters as well. Despite that, the few significant US trade barriers that remain often target agricultural and labor-intensive products in which developing countries have a comparative advantage.

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