So, if transparency is good for development, what about development think tanks? Spurred in part by Transparify and the frank constructive discussions about think tank strategy by Enrique Mendizabal’s On Think Tanks blog and Andrew Selee’s book What Should Think Tanks Do?, we also wanted to up our game.
CGD Policy Blogs
The African Development Bank estimates that illicit financial flows have drained in excess of a trillion dollars from Africa since 1980. These flows undermine the tax base, damage political institutions and exacerbate inequality. With major momentum behind global counter-measures, there are clear opportunities for progress at the regional level – including through stronger information exchange and cooperation, tax base harmonization and innovative uses of trade data.
How can donors know if their aid is making a difference? This question is tougher than it seems. Attributing results to donor inputs seems straightforward if the donor pays for progress on a measurable outcome, as CGD has proposed for Cash on Delivery Aid (COD Aid). If the desired results are achieved—say an increase above an agreed baseline in the number of kids completing primary school and taking a competency test—then the program has demonstrated value for money, no?
Here’s a fact about the IMF reform package, agreed in 2010 in a negotiation led by the United States and since approved by 158 countries, but (embarrassingly and cavalierly) stalled in the US Congress: It would increase Ukraine’s access to IMF resources to deal with its financial troubles by more than twice the special $1 billion of loan guarantees for Ukraine that the Obama Administration has proposed to the Congress — and potentially almost six times as much — at virtually no cost to US taxpayers.
Our new analysis Hating on the Hurdle explores the MCC’s use of a hard hurdle for its control of corruption indicator and finds that this strict interpretation – a country must be above the median on the corruption indicator to be considered for eligibility – is doing a disservice to the MCC and its partner countries.
A New CGD Study Group—Beyond the Fence—for a Better Development Relationship at the US-Mexico Border
CGD studies the ways that the richest countries affect the rest of the world, far beyond foreign aid. And the US massively shapes economic development in its neighbors to the south. The 2,000 mile border between the United States and Mexico is an economic cliff, the largest GDP per capita differential found at any land border on earth. Across this fault line, the two nations continue a deep and centuries-old exchange of goods, services, investment, labor, culture, and ideas.
The President’s Budget Request for FY 2015 proposes flat funding for international affairs but it contains priorities and policy reversals that have led at least one observer to describe it as edgy! And indeed, it is edgy on a number of fronts, including a proposal by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to pilot Cash on Delivery Aid (COD Aid).
Our recent paper suggesting that there are stark tradeoffs between energy access and pursuing a renewables-only energy strategy has attracted a lot of attention. We responded to Michael Levi’s post on CFR.org here, but it seems worth addressing some of the other critiques, notably this detailed post by UC Berkeley’s Daniel Kammen, that have challenged our projections and findings.
Benn Steil and Dinah Walker have a baffling post up on the Council on Foreign Relations website, calling out Treasury Secretary Lew for making the factual statement that congressional passage of IMF quota reform “would support the fund’s capacity to lend additional resources to Ukraine.”
Data quality and rigorous measurement is important for any funder using performance-based or results-based aid. Poorly measured or self-reported data are often subject to major biases.