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OPIC is a little-known agency that helps U.S. allies develop into more stable and prosperous partners by providing loans and risk insurance to crowd in—that is, to incentivize—American investors. As the sole development finance institution of the U.S. government, OPIC was built to support U.S. foreign policy objectives by creating economic opportunities in developing nations.
That leaves worries about OPIC potentially distorting free markets. Conservative critics, including the new Office of Management and Budget Director, have long argued that OPIC can use its pricing and clout to crowd out private investors. Does this argument hold water? We argue no, for at least three reasons.
First, look at the markets targeted by OPIC. The agency is confined to frontier emerging economies where pioneering businesses and investors see potential for growth but where no commercial investment is available to co-invest.
Frontier markets are volatile and risky. Investors face problems from currency volatility to lousy infrastructure to the threats of military coups or expropriation. That’s why having an institution like OPIC is so important to opening up new markets and crowding in capital to these risky environments—like Jordan, Kenya, Iraq, or Cambodia.
When markets mature and risks diminish, other players like commercial banks step in and OPIC exits. For example, OPIC was once a major provider of political risk insurance in markets like India and South Africa. Now that gap is mostly filled by private insurers increasingly offering such coverage in the more mature emerging markets. OPIC has instead focused its political risk insurance to the most challenging markets such as Ukraine, Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Egypt.
Worries about market distortions are also misplaced because of OPIC’s mission and model. OPIC is required by its statute and its board of directors to maximize, not minimize, the private co-investment in each project. For every $1 that OPIC invests in a project, the borrower and other co-investors bring, on average, an additional $2.60 to the table.
Moreover, OPIC’s involvement in a market can crowd in others beyond bringing additional capital. The agency often helps (or insists) a host country implement market-friendly reforms. For instance, some of the biggest investor roadblocks in places like the Middle East or North Africa are crony capitalism, nepotism, and red tape. OPIC works to remove market distortions—such as local content requirements or onerous regulations—that thwart private investors.
Finally, OPIC’s role is far more than simply generating market access. The true litmus test of OPIC’s success is whether its activities support economic development and American foreign policy objectives. When the White House needs to marshal investment to support an ally—after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Arab Spring uprising, or to bolster our counterterrorism partners in East Africa—OPIC gets the call. What better way to demonstrate U.S. commitment than an American business investing in a much-needed power plant, housing project, or hospital?
Jordan, for example, is a longtime friend of the U.S. and a cornerstone of regional stability. OPIC has helped crowd in private American investment into housing, water and energy. It has likewise spurred investment in Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, and Pakistan.
Could OPIC inadvertently distort a sector? In theory, yes. In practice, there’s no sign of it. The agency’s $22 billion portfolio is diversified across sectors, clients, and regions. Indeed, experts and commissions with bipartisan support have not only backed the agency, but even proposed scaling up and modernizing OPIC.
Development finance is a valuable foreign policy tool that pays for itself. Mobilizing viable private investment to tackle some of the hardest problems in developing nations—building infrastructure, creating jobs, and getting capital into the hands of the next generation of entrepreneurs—advances U.S. interests at no cost to taxpayers. The White House should take a deep breath and a closer look. OPIC doesn’t distort markets, it builds them.
Joseph O’Keefe is a former senior advisor to the President of OPIC. Todd Moss is senior fellow at the Center for Global Development and a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.
The Trump administration has had very little to say about foreign assistance, apparently preferring to let the budget knife do its talking. But if we want to discern some sort of guiding philosophy to aid coming from this White House, perhaps we should look no further than aid to Israel and Egypt, the number one and number two overall US foreign aid recipients. In a budget that imposes double-digit cuts to programs aimed at disease eradication and response to humanitarian crises, military aid to these two countries has been cut not even by a whisker.
To be fair, grant-based military support has little to do with non-military aid that supports poverty reduction, disease eradication, or responses to natural disasters. And yet, these programs all reside in the same foreign assistance budget account, which means that maintaining military aid, and at a level that already makes Israel and Egypt the largest aid recipients overall, requires even deeper cuts everywhere else.
And this is where a guiding philosophy seems to reveal itself. There is clear conviction behind funding for Israel and Egypt, which is driven by a variety of factors that probably hasn’t varied much from administration to administration. In contrast, there seems to be no conviction behind the objectives of all other non-military aid programs in this budget.
By any measure of the Trump administration’s first budget, many of the long-standing aims of foreign assistance are simply not much of a priority. This can have a perverse effect for those who are used to thinking of foreign aid in terms of long-standing goals like poverty reduction or more recent goals like addressing climate change in lower income countries. When these are your aims, you tend to develop some rigorous standards around questions of need—eg, countries with lots of poor people, high incidences of disease, and few domestic resources will tend to be prioritized for US assistance.
Consider then that the largest recipient of US assistance, and one of just a few countries to avoid cuts in this budget, also happens to be wealthier on a per capita basis than 93 percent of US counties and 42 of the 50 US states. That is not a defining vision of foreign aid that would seem to have most US taxpayers on board.
Emerging from the president’s budget proposal is an approach that sees foreign aid overwhelmingly as an instrument of geostrategic interests. Protecting military aid to Israel and Egypt amidst deep cuts elsewhere is one striking element of this approach. But it’s also reflected in the elimination of the USAID-based “development assistance” account, which has had clearly defined development-related objectives, in favor of a more strategically-oriented “economic support and development fund” based at the State Department.
This is a troubling path to be starting down, both for the opportunities lost if we abandon the priorities that have guided foreign assistance in recent years and for the risks that arise as we expose more of our aid budget to the loose objectives of “geostrategic” interests. Setting aside particular countries like Israel and Egypt, a great deal of US taxpayer money has been spent over the years in the name of these interests with too little accountability, clearly defined objectives, or scrutiny of outcomes. Let’s hope Congress is willing to step in and make a course correction with this misguided first year budget. And to be clear, the sensible path has less to do with making Israel and Egypt share the pain of the foreign aid cuts than it does with questioning the basis for the cuts to begin with.
A joint analysis with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows the Trump Administration’s proposed budgets cuts could leave US development spending further behind than ever on its fair share.
The Trump administration’s March budget proposal contained dramatic cuts to foreign aid programs, defending these reductions by implying that the United States is paying more than its “fair share” of such aid. The underlying facts contradict this assertion. The United States currently contributes just 0.18 percent of its economy to developmental aid, compared to an overall average of 0.32 percent among the 29 countries examined by the OECD. This means the US already pays $26 billion a year less than its fair share of development aid, as the term is commonly understood, than other developed nations. Rather than closing at least some of this fair share gap, which is nearly unprecedented in magnitude, the initial Trump budget proposal, as well as the likely full budget the administration is expected to release May 23, would widen it considerably, to the largest gap on record. The United States would become the most deficient ever when it comes to providing its fair share of foreign aid.
The administration’s position on foreign aid
On March 16, the Trump administration laid out some of its budget priorities for the upcoming fiscal year. This initial so-called “skinny budget” cut foreign aid by about 28 percent next year—which would reduce ODA by approximately $9 billion, assuming the 28 percent reduction would apply to all development aid funding. President Trump’s personal introduction to this budget justified this dramatic cut in the following manner:
This [budget] includes deep cuts to foreign aid. It is time to prioritize the security and well-being of Americans, and to ask the rest of the world to step up and pay its fair share.
This language implies that other countries are paying less than their fair share of foreign aid while the United States is paying more than its fair share. The budget did not present any facts to justify this characterization.
What constitutes a “fair share”?
The best and most commonly used source on the amount of foreign or development aid provided by high-income countries is the OECD. It collects information on Official Development Assistance (ODA)—“government aid designed to promote the economic development and welfare of developing countries”—provided by 29 countries that are members of its Development Assistance Committee (DAC), which includes most of the world’s major donor countries.
Following international norms advanced by the United Nations and others, the OECD’s main metric of ODA commitment is how much aid a country provides as a percent of its available resources (as measured by its gross national income, which is one way to assess the size of a nation’s economy). The OECD thus assesses a nation’s aid commitment relative to its wealth or ability to make such a commitment.
From this standpoint, the average of all donor countries’ ODA as a share of their economies could be viewed as a reasonable “fair share” measure. This measure does not reflect any negotiated agreement on the “right” level of assistance, nor do we put it forward as the correct level, but it does measure countries’ actual assistance spending in relation to each other, something that President Trump himself seems to be calling for. And by this measure, the United States comes up short.
The US devotes $33.6 billion or 0.18 percent of its economy (using OECD’s gross national income measure) to ODA. In contrast, DAC countries on average devote 0.32 percent (Figure 1). The United States would need to have spent $26 billion more on ODA in 2016 to bring its spending up to 0.32 percent of the US economy. In other words, the United States now contributes $26 billion less than its fair share relative to comparable countries.
By the OECD measure, US assistance lags that of all the other most highly industrialized countries on the list—Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom. The United States ranks 22nd out of the 29 countries examined in terms of ODA as a percent of gross national income.
The US is the largest donor in absolute terms, contributing one-third more than Germany (the second-largest). But the US economy is more than five times the size of Germany’s. Thus, Germany contributes 0.7 percent of its economy to ODA, well above the US’s 0.18 percent.
Figure 1: Net ODA as a Percentage of GNISource: OECD
As Figure 2 indicates, until 1972 the United States contributed its fair share or more of foreign aid. The current gap (0.14 percent of the economy) between US ODA and the DAC average is wider than in all but three years (1989, 1994, and 1995) on record since data collection began 57 years ago.
Figure 2: US ODA Spending Well Below DAC Average; Trump Proposes Cutting It Further
Spending on ODA as a Percentage of GNI
Note: The Development Assistance Committee (DAC) is an OECD forum for major bilateral providers of development cooperation.
Source: OECD and US Office of Management and Budget. CBPP calculation for Trump proposal.
Proposed cuts on the order of $9 billion would increase the annual fair share gap to roughly $35 billion. When measured as a percent of the economy, the gap between ODA funding from the United States and from all DAC countries would grow to the largest amount on record, with data back to 1960.
US aid would fall further short of need
Despite remarkable gains in poverty reduction globally in recent decades, largely in China, the need for grant-based assistance remains high in Sub-Saharan Africa and in poor countries in other regions. According to the United Nations, 836 million people still live in extreme poverty, with incomes of less than $1.25 a day; 795 million people are undernourished; and nearly 1,000 children die every day due to preventable water- and sanitation-related diseases. The famine threatening the Horn of Africa, with an estimated 20 million people at risk of starvation, dramatically underscores the need for adequate humanitarian relief.
US foreign aid is essential not only because of its humanitarian benefits but also because it addresses the root causes of many conflicts. As 121 retired generals and admirals wrote congressional leaders earlier this year:
The State Department, USAID, Millennium Challenge Corporation, Peace Corps and other development agencies are critical to preventing conflict and reducing the need to put our men and women in uniform in harm’s way. As [current Defense] Secretary James Mattis said while Commander of US Central Command, “If you don’t fully fund the State Department, then I need to buy more ammunition.”The military will lead the fight against terrorism on the battlefield, but it needs strong civilian partners in the battle against the drivers of extremism—lack of opportunity, insecurity, injustice, and hopelessness.
Importantly, this viewpoint reflects an understanding that US foreign assistance dollars are spent effectively overall. While not immune to failures, the body of evidence demonstrates clear, significant successes and an approach to foreign assistance spending that has focused increasingly on program effectiveness and results.
International efforts to target “0.7 percent” of donors’ economies as the correct standard for aid spending has its critics in the development community, and it is not realistic to expect the United States to soon meet this standard, even as leading donor countries like the United Kingdom, Germany, and Norway have. But if President Trump truly wants countries to pay their “fair share,” then the United States has some considerable stepping up to do under a reasonable approximation of this standard. Unfortunately, the president’s budget is a big step in the wrong direction.
Isaac Shapiro is a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
With cuts to foreign aid on the horizon, the United States, now more than ever, needs to sharpen its tools to operate in a constrained budget environment. Key to this approach is a strong development finance institution that can leverage private investment to achieve development outcomes, as well as create opportunity for American companies abroad—all at less than no cost to the US taxpayer. At this event, Congressman Ted Yoho of Florida addresses the vital role the Overseas Private Investment Corporation plays in US development policy, and discusses how he came to support its mission. An expert panel discusses the conservative rationale behind OPIC, why its critics are wrong, and what can be done to strengthen the institution and leave it better prepared to address future development challenges.
Policy guidance issued recently by Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney on “Reforming the Federal Government,” along with Secretary of State Tillerson’s plans to streamline and reorganize the Department of State and US Agency for International Development (USAID), have set off rampant speculation across the development and foreign aid community. Many aid watchers fear this process will be used as cover for a pre-cooked outcome: perhaps providing an opportunity to subsume USAID into the State Department, retroactively justify plans to slash the foreign aid budget (already proposed in the Trump administration’s FY2018 budget blueprint), or wipe out a range of development tools and agencies.
These fears are probably premature. The announcement of President Trump’s intent to nominate Mark Green to be USAID administrator is a hopeful sign that the administration does not intend to do away with the agency (Green was reputedly seeking assurances to this effect before taking the job). And at the recent confirmation hearing for President Trump’s pick to fill the role of deputy secretary of state, the nominee, John Sullivan, spoke thoughtfully about the distinct missions and cultures of USAID and State. Looking past the OMB reform memo’s aggressive tone, the practical guidance it provides is actually quite sensible: agencies are to review their functions to identify any that are duplicative, non-essential to their mandate, inefficient, or provide a poor cost-benefit ratio. Additionally, they are to seek ways to maximize employee performance. These are reasonable requests, and not that different from prior reform efforts under past administrations.
As former senior officials at USAID and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), we—like most supporters of US foreign assistance—agree that there is room for improvement in the system (some of our colleagues at CGD have proposed specific reforms). But the devil is in the details. There is extensive evidence that development aid has saved lives and improved standards of living (nicely summarized by Steve Radelet here). And when deployed effectively, US assistance can be an important tool for addressing a range of global challenges: state stability, pandemics, urbanization, violent extremism, climate change, the youth bulge, and record levels of displacement and humanitarian suffering. Any review of the US foreign assistance structure should focus on how to enable that assistance to be deployed as effectively as possible.
So, how to judge whether this process is truly focused on improving effectiveness, rather than just justifying cuts or rationalizing a predetermined re-org? We have our eyes on six key elements to watch:
Does it address the changing global context? The world has changed dramatically since the passage of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, and the US foreign aid apparatus needs to keep pace in order to remain relevant. In the coming decade, extreme poverty will be increasingly concentrated in fragile states, while the poor-but-stable states will become decreasingly reliant on aid. US assistance will be most needed in the difficult and risky environments that have traditionally been consigned to humanitarian relief flows. In these countries a more “expeditionary” development approach will be required: one that is more rapid, nimble, and risk-tolerant than traditional USAID programming. The rising economies, meanwhile, will need less US money but will still need our partnership, technical support, and private sector facilitation. In an era of rising private flows to developing countries and constrained donor budgets, there is need for greater coherence across the USG’s array of financial tools—grants, risk-sharing tools, lending, and equity—to better mobilize private finance. A serious review should focus on adapting US development capabilities to this new landscape—and equipping government experts and institutions to operate effectively within it.
Does it roll back aid fragmentation? The biggest structural question on US foreign aid is not whether USAID and State should fully merge (short answer: no. Development and diplomacy are distinct disciplines, requiring differing timelines, expertise, training, and experience). Rather, it is how to streamline a badly fragmented US development architecture. There has been an awful lot of uncoordinated tweaking of the core aid architecture since 1961. While diplomacy is relatively unified under the State Department, development functions have evolved across 20-plus USG entities. The result is a messy spaghetti bowl of objectives and organizations, with a whole that is less than the sum of its parts. There is scant efficiency to be gained from folding USAID into State (and, the record shows, a lot of potential waste when assistance is focused on political deliverables rather than development results). But much could be gained by tackling the dilution and duplication of development policy authorities and resources across an alphabet soup of federal entities and initiatives. A serious review should take a hard look at these issues. There is no inherently correct number of agencies, but the test should be whether agencies and offices have clear and distinct roles, tied to clear capacities and comparative advantages, with an efficient system for coordinating efforts among them.
Does it engage the full State/USAID team? Any meaningful government review process depends on the interplay between seasoned career staff who know their institutions, and political appointees who can provide leadership, framing, and overall policy guidance. Get this wrong and it’s likely that this effort will be among the 70 percent of change management projects that fail. The fact that there are no senior political appointees in place at either agency apart from Secretary Tillerson himself does not augur well on this front (nor do media reports of tense relations between Tillerson and State’s career leadership). Online surveys, word clouds, and outside consultancies won’t do the trick here—meaningful reform can only flow from a sincere and substantive partnership between career staff and appointees. Deep involvement of the career teams at State and USAID is critical on two fronts. First, these are the people who know their institutions inside and out. They can see around corners, and draw on institutional memories, that the appointees simply can’t. (We say this as former appointees!) If they are engaged in a sincere and substantive way, they can provide a wealth of knowledge on potential improvements. A brand new (and still very thin) team of political appointees will struggle to generate serious reform ideas—or to have any realistic gauge of feasibility—without this input. Second, the career staff will ultimately be the frontline implementers of any changes. Without their buy-in, the reforms are less likely to have staying power.
Does it set clear targets and emphasize cost-effectiveness? As the saying goes, form should follow function: look out for clear targets vis-a-vis agency goals and units. It sounds basic, but a shockingly low number of government re-orgs (8 percent) have set detailed unit-by-unit targets. These are essential in the public sector, where benefits like pandemics halted and youth employed cannot be easily captured in dollar terms. Over the past 10-plus years, foreign assistance agencies—especially the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), MCC, and USAID—have increasingly focused on setting measurable targets, tracking progress and impact, and incorporating cost-benefit analysis into decision-making. Notably, this progress contrasts with much of the aid delivered by State and the Defense Department, where objectives may be more difficult to quantify and monitoring and evaluation policies and implementation have lagged. While there is still significant room for improvement at USAID and elsewhere, any proposal should recognize recent advances in measurement and accountability—and emphasize evidence of results and cost-effectiveness over simple cost-cutting.
Does it have buy-in beyond the administration? Recent history shows major structural changes to US foreign assistance need buy-in from key external constituencies and from Capitol Hill in order to endure. President George W. Bush’s tenure illustrated both scenarios. In launching both PEPFAR and the MCC, his administration did the hard work of cultivating strong stakeholder buy-in from NGO and faith leaders, who could continue advocating for the programs long after he left office. He also worked with Congress to build ownership on the Hill, leading to legislation that enshrined the programs into law. As a result, the initiatives are still going strong two presidencies later. On the other hand, the Bush administration’s “F process” reforms, which consolidated USAID budgeting in a new State bureau, were initiated with little outside consultation and scant support from the Hill. Thus, the reforms were vulnerable to reversal, and when President Obama jettisoned most of them after taking office, no one in Congress was inclined to defend them. There is strong bipartisan support for increased aid effectiveness and accountability, so the critical question is whether the administration will engage champions and build broad support for whatever reforms it decides to pursue.
Does it seek reasonable efficiencies or debilitating cuts? The FY2018 “skinny budget” released by the Trump administration in March envisions dramatic cuts in US foreign aid and diplomatic spending. These cuts were proposed well before any strategic review was underway, much less completed. This is cart-before-the-horse budgeting—letting an arbitrary budget level set strategy rather than matching resources to strategic aims. At less than 1 percent of federal outlays, the foreign aid budget has a comparatively negligible impact on overall US spending, and rolling it back by a third is a rounding error in the broader budget context. There are certainly efficiencies that can be gained, and there may be plausible arguments for cutting budget and staffing levels (though our own view is that both remain too low). But a re-org plan that proposes major changes to budget or staffing should have a correspondingly robust strategic rationale explaining how those cuts would affect US foreign policy objectives.
In the next few weeks, we’ll propose some ideas that respond to these principles and have strong potential to increase efficiency and effectiveness . . . stay tuned!
With cuts to foreign aid on the horizon, the United States, now more than ever, needs to sharpen its tools to operate in a constrained budget environment. Key to this approach is a strong development finance institution that can leverage private investment to achieve development outcomes, as well as create opportunity for American companies abroad—all at less than no cost to the US taxpayer.
The people have spoken: Emmanuel Macron will be France’s new president. He was elected with a majority of around 66 percent in the run-off vote against right-wing candidate Marine Le Pen. Although never elected into a public office before, he and his movement ‘En Marche’ had remarkable success with their open, reformist and pro-Europeanist policies. However, with the parliamentary elections coming up in June, Macron needs a comfortable victory or a broad, robust coalition both for France’s role in international development and his presidency in order to be successful.
The challenge and opportunity of division and crisis
With 10.6 million votes for the right-wing candidate as well as 12 million voters abstaining and a further 4 million voters casting a white or invalid ballot, the results show a deeply divided country. With the numbers of people abstaining from the run-off vote, Emmanuel Macron’s policies did not convince the majority of voters. Marine Le Pen has promised more security, control, and protection. Protection from many forces of the modern world—such as migration and free trade. Le Pen, doubling the amount of votes her father achieved in 2002 (he won 18 percent in the run-off vote against Jacques Chirac in 2002), said—after admitting the defeat—that her Front National party would henceforward be the main opposition. This is yet to be seen, but in order to put in place the many changes promised in reform-adverse France, Macron will undoubtedly have to reach out to the almost 27 million voters that decided against him.
With a nation still in a state of emergency, with lagging productivity and a lingering unemployment rate around 10 percent (and an alarming one out of four among the youth unemployed), Macron inherits a country in crisis. Such a crisis presents a huge challenge, but also a unique opportunity for reform and reunification. Macron has to address the popular concerns of the third of French voters supporting the protectionist policies of Le Pen. Indeed, Macron declared in his victory speech that national reconciliation is his main challenge.
Macron’s victory also comes in times of vast global challenges and political rupture. In his conclusion of the presidential debate, he said that his main goal for the presidency was to counter France’s identity crisis with courageous policies and actions. Having in mind the numerous challenges the world faces and which can only be solved by global cooperation, a young French leader not bound to the policies and programs of the established parties—even in the event of a coalition government with other parties—presents a real opportunity, which includes deepening France’s commitment to international development.
What now for President Macron on France’s role in international development?
Despite the challenges ahead, this election result—in line with previous victories of open, pro-European parties in Austria and the Netherlands—is a strong sign for international solidarity, a reinforced Europe and open, inclusive policies. As laid out in my previous blog post on the French election and international development, Macron has committed to the 0.7 percent aid target and the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. As an outspoken supporter of the European integration, his victory is good news for multilateral aid and the world’s poor. African countries were identified as the focus of international development under President Macron. On overseas aid, Macron’s commitment to Africa is highly important, especially after a first glimpse at President Trump’s vision for foreign aid, where many countries take a hit (e.g., Ethiopia down by US$140 million or Mozambique by US$142 million). However, Macron’s plans to keep aid separate from migration, increasing overseas aid and giving dedicated support to the Least Development Countries (LDC) in the way he suggested will not be enough. Macron should extend his courageous approach in more than just reconciling French voters’ concerns. As called for by the ONE campaign and contrary to international trends of decreased aid to the world’s poorest, the French president should give more than the suggested 0.15 percent overseas aid to the LDCs. Global solidarity should first and foremost include the world’s poorest, also by abolishing protectionist measures, thereby unconstraining free trade.
France is already highly committed to security on the African continent. After the vote, Macron signalled that his first visit abroad would be to the French troops in Mali, a strong sign that he wants to continue the various French missions in Africa. Confirming its commitment to the United Nations, as a permanent security council member, France plays an important role in providing and maintaining international security under the umbrella of the existing multilateral system.
Macron should also be ‘en marche’ with regards to the environment. The fight against global climate change was the grand absentee in the more than two hours of presidential debate a few days prior to the election. For a country whose capital lends its name to the most extensive climate agreement in history, this is worrisome. Climate change affects us all, but the world’s poorest are most vulnerable and most immediate in suffering its consequences. France is not a leader in environment-friendly policies—ranking 15 out of 27 in CGD’s Commitment to Development Index 2016—and could step up its efforts by significantly cutting its greenhouse gas emissions and working towards an increase in the use of renewable energies, amongst others.
Can Macron build on French voters’ views on development?
While he will undoubtedly meet fierce opposition to parts of his national reformist agenda, in terms of international development, he can count on the overall support of the French people. In the most recent Eurobarometer, a survey conducted by the European commission on international development, the French are among the European nations agreeing most strongly with the statement that tackling poverty in developing countries should be one of the main priorities of their respective national governments (Table 7). However, at the same time, out of all 28 EU nations, the French are among the least persuaded that supporting developing countries contributes to a fairer and more peaceful world (Table 11). This mirrors French voting behaviour—a nation that believes in international solidarity but is skeptical about the local benefits of both aid and globalisation.
While Emmanuel Macron has an immense task ahead, by creating a new and extremely successful political movement within months from scratch, and by becoming France’s youngest president, he has already demonstrated that he can achieve a great deal—sometimes with an unorthodox approach. He will now have the unique opportunity to deliver the change the French voters crave.
Last year more than 83 million people in low- and middle-income countries were affected by natural disasters. We may not know when or where the next disaster will strike, but we know it will. So why do we still treat disasters like surprises? A new CGD report urges a different approach: make disasters predictable, using the principles and practices of insurance. Hear from four members of the working group in this week's podcast.