Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity


CGD's weekly Podcast, event videos, whiteboard talks, slides, and more.

A Universal Basic Income for India? – Arvind Subramanian

The Indian Ministry of Finance’s 2017 Economic Survey considers—though does not commit to—the idea of a large-scale experiment in UBI, or universal basic income. How would it work? What effects would it have? Arvind Subramanian—lead author of the Survey, chief economic adviser to the government of India, and a CGD senior fellow on leave—joins me to discuss the big ideas currently shaping India’s economy. 

From Local to Global Action in the Fight Against Antimicrobial Resistance

Since the advent of penicillin in the 1920s, antimicrobial drugs have become the foundation of modern medicine. Yet growing antimicrobial resistance (AMR)—the increasing ability of pathogens to withstand and survive treatment with antimicrobial drugs—threatens to erode and reverse almost a century of health gains. The United Kingdom’s Review on Antimicrobial Resistance suggests that AMR could cause 10 million deaths each year and drain over $100 trillion from the global economy by 2050. Heads of state set precedent at the G20 summit in 2015 by affirming AMR is a serious threat that will require a coordinated international response. 

Ask Arvind: India’s Economic Priorities and Global Cooperation

The Center for Global Development is proud to host Arvind Subramanian, Chief Economic Adviser to the Government of India since October 2014. In an open forum event, Subramaniam will discuss and take questions on India's economic priorities and global cooperation.

US-India Intellectual Property Rift - Arvind Subramanian and Kimberly Elliott

With the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) reported to be considering a downgrade of India, trade ties between the two countries are even rockier than usual. Worse, the decision could be announced soon after a newly elected Indian government takes office in May, potentially starting a new relationship on a very sour note.  Arvind Subramanian, a senior fellow at CGD and the Peterson Institute, recently warned about these risks in a piece in India’s Business Standard

The Historical Origins of Democracy and Autocracy in India and China (audio)

In his widely-acclaimed 2011 book Origins of Political Order, Fukuyama explores the divergent trajectory of political and institutional development across societies. His new CGD Working Paper "What is Governance?" presents a framework for quantifying governance across countries. As part of the Understanding India Series, Fukuyama will contrast the evolution of political institutions in India and China.

A New Leader for the WTO –Kimberly Elliott and Arvind Subramanian

Candidates to succeed Pascal Lamy as the Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) presented themselves before the general council last week. All but one of the nine candidates are from developing countries, in sharp contrast to those who led the WTO in the past, all but one of whom were from high-income countries. Is this a good sign for the WTO or not? Does this leadership succession process have implications for trade and development?

Whiteboard Video -- Greenprint: A New Approach to Cooperation on Climate Change

International cooperation on climate change has floundered. With mutual recrimination between rich and poor countries, the zero-sum arithmetic of a shrinking global carbon budget, and shifting economic and bargaining power from old CO2 emitters to new—what Aaditya Mattoo and Arvind Subramanian call the “narrative,” “adding up,” and “new world” problems—the wonder is not the current impasse but belief that progress might be possible at all.

Each of these problems must be addressed in a radically different way. First, the old narrative of recrimination must give way to a narrative based on recognition of common interests. Second, leaders must shift the focus away from cutting emissions to generating technology. Third, the old “cash-for-cuts” approach must be abandoned for one that requires contributions from all countries calibrated in magnitude and form to the countries current level of development and future prospects.

On Populism and (Electric) Power in India -- Arvind Subramanian

Electric power has been restored across northern India to the 600 million people who recently found themselves sweltering in the dark. But the massive blackouts have left lingering questions about the country’s ability to provide the infrastructure necessary to sustained growth and poverty reduction.

CGD Fellow Arvind Subramanian puts the blame on populism—a tendency of politicians to promise free or heavily subsidized electricity and officials to turn a blind eye to power theft—that has left India with an undercapitalized, inefficient power sector that has much higher transmission and distribution losses than other countries at a similar level of development.

What to Do About U.S. Aid to Pakistan -- Nancy Birdsall and Arvind Subramanian

The debate over U.S. foreign assistance in Pakistan has grown hotter lately, with Stanford political scientist Stephen Krasner arguing in Foreign Affairs that the United States should get tough by threatening to halt aid to Pakistan to force the country into cooperating better on security matters. CGD president Nancy Birdsall responded with an article in Foreign Policy. Drawing on the recommendations of a 2011 CGD study group report, Beyond Bullets and Bombs: Fixing the U.S. Approach to Development in Pakistan, she argued that U.S. development assistance should be focused on helping to create a stable, prosperous Pakistan—goals that are in America’s own best interest and would be ill-served by trying to use the aid as a bargaining chip.

Cleaning up the Clean Tech Fund

Johnny West

In this short video clip, CGD senior fellows David Wheeler and Arvind Subramanian tell how CGD influenced the World Bank to stop financing coal-burning power plants through the Clean Tech Fund and instead focus on solar thermal power. Drawing on Wheeler’s research, Wheeler and others in CGD engaged directly with senior management at the World Bank, enlisted NGO support, and made the argument for the funding shift in newsletters, blog posts, and Congressional testimony. Watch the film, then learn more about CGD’s work on climate and development.

Eclipse: Living in the Shadow of China's Economic Dominance: Arvind Subramanian

Arvind Subramanian

“February 2021. It’s a cold blustery morning in Washington. The newly inaugurated president of the United States is on his way to the office of the Chinese managing director of the IMF to sign the agreement under which the IMF will provide 3 trillion dollars in emergency financing to the U.S. and the conditionality to which the U.S. will have to adhere.”

Sound like science fiction? To Arvind Subramanian, a joint-fellow at the Peterson Institute and the Center for Global Development, it’s more like economic inevitability – a world in which the United States has no choice but to cede global leadership to China—and accept it’s terms, which in this imaginary case includes withdrawal from the Western Pacific. Arvind joins me on this week’s Wonkcast to explain the careful quantitative analysis that underpins that startling opening passage from his new book Eclipse: Living in the Shadow of China’s Economic Dominance.

Egypt’s Next Big Challenge: Overcoming Reliance on Rents

Arvin SubramanianAfter the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak last Friday, I invited Arvind Subramanian, a former IMF resident representative in Cairo and a regular columnist for the Business Standard, the leading business daily in his native India, to share his views on Egypt’s economic prospects.

In the interview, Arvind argues that Egypt’s biggest economic challenge is reliance on rents, which he defines as wealth derived from historical and geographical legacies rather than job-generating economic growth. Arvind includes among these the Suez Canal, which I was surprised to learn generates some $5 billion a year in fees; aid received in exchange for peace with Israel; the pyramids and other antiquities that draw tourists, and even remittances, which he says are the result not of Egyptian success but of failure that forces its citizens to seek work abroad.

Beyond Relief: Helping Haiti

Arvind Subramanian, a senior fellow jointly appointed at the Center for Global Development and Peterson Institute, participated in the recent event Beyond Relief: Helping Haiti hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations.

The panel discussed medium- and long-term goals for Haiti’s recovery, including Subramanian's innovative idea for donors to give cash and mobile phones directly to Haitians instead of routing aid through the Haitian government.