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History of Microfinance Impact Research by the Numbers

I gave a book talk last night at an event sponsored by CGAP and the Club de Microfinance de Paris. There were two excellent commentators (and no unexcellent ones): Florent Bédécarrats, who is finishing his Ph.D., and Jérémy Hajdenberg of I&P Conseil, which invests in microfinance. A central point of discussion was how to limit the harm from overly ample outside capital while protecting the constructive role that outsiders can play in building businesses and strengthening governance.

First Edition of the Oxford Companion to the Economics of Africa Features Essays by CGD Staff and Board

This is a joint post with Julie Walz

Since the mid-nineties, many African nations have ushered in dramatic economic and political changes. But growth in other countries is stalled due conflict, repressive regimes, and lack of infrastructure. A new publication captures the diversity across Africa, using an economic lens to evaluate the key issues affecting Africa’s ability to grow and develop. The Oxford Companion to the Economics of Africa is a compilation of 100 essays on key issues and topics across the continent. It includes contributions from young African researchers, longtime researchers on Africa and four Nobel Laureates. Authors were given the freedom to write their own perspectives, thus the result is not a literature review but an engaging snapshot of concerns and possibilities across the continent. With 48 country perspectives (from Algeria to Zimbabwe) and 53 thematic essays, the book rejects a one-size-fits-all approach yet recognizes that there are continent-wide opportunities and challenges. As the first work of its kind, it is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in the field, from graduate students to policymakers.

The Future of the World Bank – Nancy Birdsall

Charles Kenny

Following Robert Zoellick’s announcement that he will step down from the World Bank presidency at the end of June, the World Bank board has called for member countries to submit nominations for his successor, with a fast-approaching  deadline of March 23rd. The board has said it will then narrow the nominations to a short list of three, with the goal of naming a new president before the World Bank/IMF spring meetings in April.

Next World Bank President: Two Non-U.S. Candidates for the Short List

This post is joint with Arvind Subramanian

The next World Bank president will need the legitimacy and wide support that only an open and merit-based selection process can ensure. This is now commonly agreed. The best way to ensure legitimacy is to have more than one serious candidate. The Obama administration is sure to nominate a strong candidate. Obama cannot be seen to be relinquishing the right of the United States to name an American, especially in this election year. But the U.S. has signaled its willingness to participate in an open and competitive and process. And the Bank’s board has called for nominations from all member states, which the board says it will then narrow to a short list of three.

Wanted: Better Sector-Level Aid Data

One of the few things donors agreed on at the High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan was the need for increased transparency: better aid data is needed to help donors channel their aid more effectively and recipient countries hold their donors accountable. Yet despite the shared commitment, data on aid flows remains incomplete, complicated and fragmented, particularly at the sector level.

Don't Be Evil (World Bank & Google Edition)

This post first appeared on Owen Abroad, along with a list of suggested further readings. Please post any comments on the original version.

I am a generally a fan of both the World Bank and of Google, but we should all be worried about their recent deal.

The intention is good: it is to promote crowd-sourcing of maps, to improve planning in disasters and to improve the planning, management and monitoring of public services. This is an important goal, which is now being made possible by new technologies and the spread of the internet. The deal is sufficiently important for World Bank Managing Director Caroline Anstey to write about it in the opinion pages of the New York Times:

Up Next: Secretary Clinton Budget Hearings

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will testify this week before four separate congressional committees on the FY13 president’s budget request for the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development. The hearings will likely run the gamut of U.S. priorities in national security and foreign policy (all through the lens of budget austerity) and can be expected to hone in on hot button issues like Afghanistan, the Arab spring, and family planning.

Akula Admits Error

Vikram Akula, who founded SKS Microfinance in India, and long aggressively defended it in the face of controversy, apparently has publicly stated that he made mistakes. I just have this fragment from a summary of the talk he gave at a Harvard Business School conference (HT @sushmitameka):

akula

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