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USAID Administrator Shah has taken another step in his ambitious program of making USAID not only a premier development agency (as Hillary Clinton promised it would be back in her January 2010 development speech) but premier in economic analysis, and in macro as well as micro. Shah could not have been smarter than to recruit Steve Radelet from his job as a senior advisor on development to Secretary Clinton. I had thought Steve would surely end up back at Treasury, where he was the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Africa, the Middle East, and Asia before joining CGD in 2002. But it is hard to imagine a better job for him and for the development community than his new post at USAID.
At USAID Steve will join another CGD alumnus, Ruth Levine in fostering a culture of evidence-based innovation—a key value here at the Center. He will lead the economic analysis on a wide range of hot-button issues: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, Haiti; the economic costs of climate change in India and China; and the role of aid in key countries where the United States spends ever-scarcer taxpayer dollars.
It is great news that USAID will finally have (once again as it did until sometime in the 1990s) a Chief Economist, and damn smart of Adminsitrator Raj Shah to snag Steve for the job. Now maybe USAID economists can join in the debates on development that for more than three decades have been shaped and led by the World Bank and the UK’s DfID. Let’s watch and see.
CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.