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Middle Class: Winners or Losers in a Globalized World?

8/3/17

Globalization is under attack in the West. The debate among pundits is no longer about whether globalization is to blame or not. It is about why globalization is now the bugaboo it has become. A common thread are changes, for the worse, in the economic and social standing of the Western middle class.

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What the AIIB Can Do for the Multilateral System

7/24/17

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has enjoyed considerable success in its young life. The challenge going forward is to translate this resounding political success into operational effectiveness and sound strategy. Given the political dimensions of this new institution, it is also worth considering what it will mean for other MDBs like the World Bank and the ADB. There are large questions of political leadership in the multilateral “system” but also an array of issues on which the AIIB could help shape a new system-wide approach, whether defined by some division of labor among the MDBs or by introducing institutional innovations.

Latin America´s Policy Options for Times of Protectionism

4/4/17

A rise in protectionism and increased external uncertainty may compound already existing domestic weaknesses. Latin America cannot run the risk of being unprepared for the significant potential direct and indirect effects of such a menace to its exports, capital inflows and growth.

Meeting Sub-Saharan Africa’s Frontier Market Financing Needs: More Is Better from the IMF

3/9/17

An energizing development for IMF staff working on sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) over the past decade was the region's clear growth uptick and progress in reducing poverty relative to earlier periods. A number of African countries graduated to lower middle-income country (MIC) status and became "frontier economies." This was the essence of the “Africa Rising” story. But since my time at the Fund, I have pondered whether the IMF has fully adjusted to the evolving financing needs of these countries. I think it’s fair to conclude that this adjustment is a work in progress and that SSA frontier countries can themselves do more to accelerate it.

Latin American Currency, Photo Credit: Alex Prolmos

Latin America in a New Global Political and Economic Scenario: What Does It Mean for the Region?

1/30/17

Since mid-2016, a new wave of political developments in advanced countries has been shaking Latin America. This latest assessment of the Latin American Committee on Financial Issues (CLAAF) examines how the anti-globalist movement sweeping the West will affect macroeconomic trends in Latin America.

Author's ancestral home in the village of Jakhan.

Of Sun Gods and Solar Energy

1/6/17

My family’s ancestral home in the village of Jakhan in India’s western state of Rajasthan exemplifies the challenges and opportunities of facilitating energy access in India. Though Rajasthan is perhaps the most densely populated desert on the planet, near Jakhan the population is spread more thinly, and electrification has been slow in coming. The dreams of people such as my grandparents, who wished to see central electricity access arrive at their doorstep, were unfortunately not met in time. My grandfather filed an application to have a grid connection reach his home in the 1970s. The connection came three decades after his passing. Today, over 300 million people still lack access to reliable centralized electricity in this nation of 1.2 billion people.

An Agenda for Harmful Cultural Practices and Girls' Empowerment

12/12/16

Harmful cultural practices and norms—even the seemingly non-violent ones that consign girls to bear the brunt of household labor—have consequences for nutrition, health, educational achievement, sexual abuse, and child marriage. Accordingly, it is critical to develop a research agenda that places girls aged 0 to 10 at the center of policy to address harmful practices. Both as an issue of gender-based violence and as an impediment to girls reaching their potential, we need greater commitments to country-level data, informed and enforced legislative action, and innovative methods to challenging and shifting socially shared definitions of girlhood.

United Europe: A Unique and Inspiring Enterprise

6/21/16
Brian Barder and Owen Barder

The European Union is a unique and inspiring association. We are alarmed that a narrow majority of the British people might choose to destroy that by voting to leave the European Union, undermining our ability to secure our foreign, economic, and international development interests. This would be harmful for Britain and for the rest of the world.

by Carlos Lowry flic.kr/p/Abrxy

Middle-Class Heroes: The Best Guarantee of Good Governance

2/16/16

The two economic developments that have garnered the most attention in recent years are the concentration of massive wealth in the richest one percent of the world’s population and the tremendous, growth-driven decline in extreme poverty in the developing world, especially in China. But just as important has been the emergence of large middle classes in developing countries around the planet. This phenomenon—the result of more than two decades of nearly continuous fast-paced global economic growth—has been good not only for economies but also for governance. After all, history suggests that a large and secure middle class is a solid foundation on which to build and sustain an effective, democratic state. Middle classes not only have the wherewithal to finance vital services such as roads and public education through taxes; they also demand regulations, the fair enforcement of contracts, and the rule of law more generally—public goods that create a level social and economic playing field on which all can prosper.

flic.kr/p/oTbje9

Shine a Light on the Gaps

1/19/16

If Africa’s smallholder farmers are going to lift themselves out of poverty, they need access to formal financial services instead of the unstable, inflexible, informal arrangements that they currently rely on and that keep them poor. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Janeen Madan review the ways in which digital technology is changing how financial services are delivered and made affordable. With the right investments and policies, farmers will be able to access credit, savings accounts, insurance, payment platforms, and other financial products that allow them to invest in their livelihoods without being exposed to exploitation or untenable risks.

flickr user Cho Wah Ye / cc bit.ly/1KEFu1s

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

Strengthening the Addis Accord

7/1/15

There are 20 pages covering the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. And while they are inevitably bubble-wrapped in diplo-speak and hat-tipping, there is a solid package of proposals nestled within. They cover domestic public finance, private finance, international public finance, trade, debt, technology, data and systemic issues. Amongst many other things, the Agenda calls for more tax and better tax (less regressive, more focused on pollution and tobacco). And it is long and specific on base erosion, tax evasion and competition and tax cooperation. It calls for financial inclusion and cheaper remittances. The draft discusses blended finance and a larger role for market-based instruments to support infrastructure rollout, as well as a new measure of “Total Official Support for Sustainable Development.” It calls for Multilateral Development Bank reform including new graduation criteria and scaling up. And it suggests a global compact to guarantee a universal package of basic social services and a second compact covering infrastructure. Finally, the draft has a good section on technology including the need for public finance and flexibility on intellectual property rights.

The Role of Identification in the Post-2015 Development Agenda

The Role of Identification in the Post-2015 Development Agenda

7/1/15
Mariana Dahan and Alan Gelb

The post-2015 development agenda is being shaped as we speak. The role of identification and its importance to development outcomes places it within the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agenda — specifically as one of the proposed SDG targets (#16.9), but also as a key enabler of the efficacy of many other SDG targets. Although there is no one model for providing legal identity, this SDG would urge states to ensure that all have free or low-cost access to widely accepted, robust identity credentials.

Old-World Humanitarianism Faces New-World Challenges

Old-World Humanitarianism Faces New-World Challenges

6/16/15
Mark Malloch Brown

In fact refugees and victims of natural disasters account for such a small fraction of the world population, less than half a percent. There is no excuse for not providing adequate timely funding for disasters whose numbers if not locations are relatively predictable. The costs are manageable, or at least they are a fraction of, say, the costs of ending poverty or combating climate change. This is at the easier end of world problems. And therefore fashioning the political will to act in a timely and effective way should be possible.

MDGs to SDGs: Have We Lost the Plot?

5/27/15

In September this year, world leaders will meet in New York at the United Nations General Assembly. Top of the agenda will be the passage of a resolution laying out global development goals for the fifteen years to 2030, covering progress in areas from poverty reduction to forestry preservation. They will follow on from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which have become a common yardstick of global progress over the past decade and a half.

Corporate Commitments to Deforestation-Free Supply Chains: An Expedition

Corporate Commitments to Deforestation-Free Supply Chains: An Expedition

5/12/15

This essay addresses the challenges likely to be faced by corporations and non-governmental organizations as they collaborate to implement recent commitments to deforestation-free commodity supply chains. The essay takes as its inspiration and a source of lessons learned Theodore Roosevelt’s 1913-14 expedition to explore the River of Doubt, a tributary of the Amazon River in Brazil.

Food Security in Developing Countries: Is There a Role for the WTO?

Food Security in Developing Countries: Is There a Role for the WTO?

5/5/15

Trade is a key tool to bring food security to an estimated 800 million people around the world that remain chronically undernourished. Many countries need reliable access to international markets to supplement their inadequate domestic food supplies. Better policies to make agriculture in developing countries more productive and profitable, including via exports, would also help alleviate food insecurity and reduce poverty. Stronger international trade rules would help by constraining the beggar-thy-neighbor policies that distort trade, contribute to price volatility, and discourage investments in developing-country agriculture.

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