Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

US Development Policy

CGD experts track US development policy and offer ideas and analysis to improve its impact on developing countries. Also check out our Views from the Center blog and Global Health Policy blog.


John Bolton Wants to Shut Down the World Bank

To say that John Bolton, President Trump’s latest pick for National Security advisor is a well-known UN critic would be an understatement. But it’s well worth noting that he has opinions about the IMF and the multilateral development banks too.

China May Be Paving the Way for America’s Exit

One form of soft power is concrete enough. That is, it’s literally concrete. And by a measure of bricks and mortar, it’s clear that the United States is rapidly losing the soft power game to China. In fact, the contrast between the two countries on display this week in Washington is startling.

Ivanka Trump Spearheads New Fund for Women Entrepreneurs: Four Questions to Answer Before the Cheers

At a recent G20 dialogue in Berlin, Angela Merkel unveiled plans for a new fund—spearheaded by Ivanka Trump—to promote women’s entrepreneurship. But given that President Trump’s draft FY2018 budget proposes major cuts across development accounts, including on spending and activities central to women’s empowerment, there are significant questions to ask about what appears to be a major new development initiative championed by his Administration. Here are four core considerations.

Congress Looks at World Bank, Asks How It Can Do Better

With big cuts to US bilateral and multilateral assistance looming, the House Committee on Financial Services convened a hearing to investigate accountability and results at the World Bank. Scott Morris, CGD’s director of the US Development Policy initiative (DPI), was joined by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ Sasha Chavkin, CalTech’s Jean Ensminger, and BIC’s Elana Berger. It was a thoughtful conversation, with everyone on the panel agreeing that it is in the United States’ interest to continue engagement with the World Bank. Here are my main takeaways from the hearing.

Is OPIC Focused on the Private Sector’s Biggest Constraints?

In an ideal world, development finance institutions (DFIs) should focus on the biggest constraints for businesses in developing countries. This helps to expand their impact beyond a single project or investment, thereby producing more systemic benefits. However, this is a particularly challenging issue for many DFIs given their operating models, which are typically driven by investor priorities.

Pakistan Aid Facts

This is a joint post with Molly Kinder.

As Pakistan struggles to cope with the worst flooding in the country’s history, international donors have contributed upwards of $800 million to humanitarian relief efforts. (See here for the UK’s Guardian newspaper’s ongoing tracking of individual donor pledges to Pakistan’s floods.) The full cost of rebuilding Pakistan’s flooded regions is still being calculated, and will no doubt be staggering. The Asian Development Bank has already pledged $2 billion to the recovery and reconstruction efforts and the World Bank another $900 million. Most other international donors have yet to announce their contributions to the mammoth rebuilding effort that is to come.

As background, this post lays out how much the United States and other international bilateral and multilateral donors were already giving to Pakistan, before the floods. These aid figures were compiled earlier this year, and do not take into consideration any reprogramming or redirection of funds towards flood relief and recovery. As donors adjust their assistance plans, we will continue to track the numbers, and will update our “Aid to Pakistan by the Numbers” page. Check back for more! You’ll find raw data for all of the charts in this post here.

A Long-Term Fix for Pakistan’s Energy Woes

This is a joint post with Wren Elhai.

It is little wonder the Obama Administration has prioritized Pakistan’s energy sector in its $1.5 billion aid program this year. Pakistan is gripped by a very serious energy crisis. Daily black-outs in major Pakistan cities sometimes exceed 12 hours. Businesses are suffering, jobs have disappeared, and quality of life has plummeted. Frustrated Pakistanis are taking to the streets, and the political turmoil threatens to further destabilize the country and weaken the (already fragile) central government. Pakistani citizens and policymakers have turned to the United States for help. The United States sees an opportunity both to improve its public image, shore up a friendly government, and remove a key bottleneck to economic growth. Ultimately, fixing the Pakistani energy sector would go a long way towards stabilizing a critical state and benefiting U.S. national security interests.

However, the ever-present danger in jumping into a crisis situation with wallet in hand is that the desire to make progress quickly can overshadow the need to fix the longer-term problems that caused this crisis and, if not dealt with, will cause others in the future.