Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

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December 22, 2015

The Role of Industrial Policy as a Development Tool: New Evidence from the Globalization of Trade-and-Investment

Emerging market countries that manage to diversify and upgrade their production and export base grow more rapidly and enjoy greater welfare gains than those that do not.  Foreign direct investment in manufacturing is concentrated in middle- and upper-skilled activities -- not lowest-skilled operations -- and thus offers many opportunities for structural transformation of the host economy.  But the challenge of using FDI to diversify and upgrade the local production and export base is fraught with market failures and tricky obstacles.  Contemporary debates about industrial policy as a development tool focus on how best to overcome these market failures and other difficulties.

December 15, 2015

Aligning Incentives, Accelerating Impact: Next Generation Financing Models for Global Health

Founded in 2002, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (the Global Fund) is one of the world’s largest multilateral health funders, disbursing $3–$4 billion a year across 100-plus countries. Many of these countries rely on Global Fund monies to finance their respective disease responses—and for their citizens, the efficient and effective use of Global Fund monies can be the difference between life and death.

December 8, 2015

Focus on FY2016: Which Countries Will MCC Select This Year?

The Millennium Challenge Corporation’s (MCC’s) board of directors is scheduled to meet on December 16. When it does, the members will vote on which countries will be eligible for MCC assistance for fiscal year (FY) 2016. As always, the board is faced with some hard decisions.

December 8, 2015

Doing Business Differently with Subnationals: Recommendations for Global Health Donors in Highly Decentralized Countries

In the big decentralized countries where global disease burden is concentrated, such as India and Indonesia, most public money for health isn’t spent by the national ministry of health, the traditional counterpart for global health funders and technical agencies. Instead, most money is programmed and spent subnationally.

Greater subnational public spending reflects growing democratization, power-sharing, and local self-determination. It also responds to the conviction that local decision-makers understand local realities better than a bureaucrat sitting in the capital city. Yet evidence on the effectiveness of subnational spending on health care and outcomes is mixed at best, and incentives for greater spending and better performance can be weak.

December 7, 2015

Modernizing US Security and Development Assistance in the Middle East

US strategy in the Middle East and North Africa has not changed in the past 40 years, favoring security approaches over political and economic development, narrow partnerships with select regime elements over broader engagement with governments and people, and short-term responses and interventions over long-term vision. Symptomatic of this strategy is the fact that US security assistance vastly outstrips economic assistance.

December 7, 2015

Power to the States: Making Fiscal Transfers Work for Better Health

Most money and responsibility for health in large federal countries like India rests with subnational governments — states, provinces, districts, and municipalities. The policies and spending at the subnational level affect the pace, scale, and equity of health improvements in countries that account for much of the world’s disease burden: India, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Pakistan.

December 6, 2015

Global Public Goods That Matter for Development: A Path for US Leadership

The United States has been at the forefront of providing several development-related global public goods, including peace and security via its contributions to international peacekeeping, the monitoring of international sea trade routes, its engagement in forums such as the Financial Action Task Force to stem flows of funding to terrorist organizations, and more. Yet it has not fully capitalized on its comparative advantage in research and development at home that matters especially for the world’s poor, or on its opportunities for globally transformative investments abroad in such areas as clean power and disease surveillance. We propose two areas where the United States should lead on providing even more transformative global public goods.

December 4, 2015

Commitment to Development Index 2015

The Commitment to Development Index ranks 27 of the richest countries on their dedication to policies that benefit poorer nations. Denmark takes first in 2015. The UK is tied for sixth while the United States is 21st. Japan takes last of 27.

World Bank Photos flic.kr/p/5dokDX
November 30, 2015

Better Hospitals, Better Health Systems, Better Health – A Proposal for a Global Hospital Collaborative for Emerging Economies

Hospitals are central to building and maintaining healthy populations around the world. They serve as the first point of care for many, offer access to specialized care, act as loci for medical education and research, and influence standards for national health systems at large. Yet despite their centrality within health systems, hospitals have been sidelined to the periphery of the global health agenda as scarce financial resources, technical expertise, and political will instead focus on the expansion of accessible primary care.

WP420 Cover
November 20, 2015

Changes in Funding Patterns by Latin American Banking Systems: How Large? How Risky? - Working Paper 420

This paper investigates the shifts in Latin American banks’ funding patterns in the post-global financial crisis period. To this end, we introduce a new measure of exposure of local banking systems to international debt markets that we term: International Debt Issuances by Locally Supervised Institutions. In contrast to well-known BIS measures, our new metric includes all entities that fall under the supervisory purview of the local authority.

Flickr user Kigali Wire - bit.ly/1GPriSG
November 9, 2015

Unintended Consequences of Anti–Money Laundering Policies for Poor Countries

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.

working paper 418 cover
October 19, 2015

Asking What the People Want: Using Mobile Phone Surveys to Identify Citizen Priorities - Working Paper 418

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.

October 14, 2015

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

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.

October 13, 2015

The Future of the Multilateral Development Banks

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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