Ideas to Action:

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CGD Policy Blogs



A New Liquidity Fund for Latin America -- Liliana Rojas Suarez

In December, members of the Latin American Shadow Financial Regulatory Committee (CLAAF) convened at CGD to discuss global financial and monetary developments affecting Latin America. The CLAAF, which meets here twice a year, usually offers policy and regulatory recommendations for finance ministers. central bankers and financial regulators in the region. This time the committee proposed something quite different: the five-page statement CLAAF issued after two days of deliberation recommended the creation of a new regional financial institution—a Latin American Liquidity Fund, to supplement the efforts of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) when the next global financial crisis hits.

Development Is Toast

This week, Owen Barder gave an excellent presentation on Complexity and Development and asked whether development is an “emergent property of a complex adaptive system.” After listening to his talk, I fully agree with this definition. On further reflection, however, I decided that development is more like toast. Yes, white, wheat or rye, crisped up with heat. Don’t you agree? Let me explain.

The Ethanol Link between Food and Energy Prices in Pictures

US government promotion of the ethanol industry is an important element in the recent spikes in corn (and other food) prices, but rising oil and gasoline prices are also key contributors.  This is the punch line of a recent presentation I gave on US biofuel policy, and a point that can be clearly illustrated in just two charts:  the first chart provides a crude summary of key elements of US biofuels policy; the second chart shows trends in ethanol production, corn prices, and crude oil prices all starting to move together in the mid-2000s.

Population is Personal: Reflections on Policy Communication from PopPov 2013

In the wonky worlds of economics and demography, quantitative models and regression output tables rule supreme. But with such sterile and aggregated methods, it can be all too easy to forget that those endless p-tests and robustness checks relate to the most intimate and meaningful aspects of human life. If we want population or demographic research to translate into policy significance, it’s worth asking in the most blunt and human terms: What are we really talking about when we talk about population? And relatedly, how can we best be understood by those we’re trying to reach?

A Critical Moment for COD Aid or “The Trouble with Targets”

As mentioned in our last post, aid agencies are experimenting with programs that incorporate the main features of COD Aid: paying for outputs and outcomes, giving the recipient greater discretion to spend as they see fit, independent verification, and transparency. Once these results-based programs are up and running, they face a critical test when the first results are reported. In particular, most programs create expectations by setting annual targets and are then judged relative to those targets rather than to their baseline. And this means that even successful programs will be viewed as failures (a point also made in an earlier blog). By refusing to set targets, a results-based program can avoid this pitfall. How is it that targets can create such a problem?

How Much Health Foregone?

When national governments or global health funders have to decide whether to subsidize a new medical technology (a new vaccine, a new AIDS medication, a new clinical pathway), some ask whether the new technology is “cost-effective”, that is, whether the health gains from the introduction of the new technology outweigh the health given up or foregone as other activities are displaced to accommodate the additional costs.