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Thus far, the “billions to trillions” vision is not coming to fruition. The greatly expanded private capital flows that people hoped for, especially for SDG-related infrastructure and for low-income countries (LICs), have not materialized. Given stagnating aid flows, attempts to accelerate spending have raised public debt, putting macroeconomic stability at risk in many LICs. Many call for more catalytic use of donor resources to mobilize private finance, but others question whether blending public and private monies would just subsidize the private sector, or divert public funds from social and infrastructure investment in LICs and fragile states aimed at reducing poverty. CGD research focuses on building the evidence base for better understanding the challenges and devising innovative solutions in synergizing public and private finance. We are analysing private capital flows to LICs after the global financial crisis; examining the factors limiting the role development finance institutions (DFIs) are playing in mobilizing private finance; exploring the characteristics and sources of finance of infrastructure projects in Africa; assessing the impact of blended finance on poverty; and proposing changes to the development finance architecture to boost DFI risk tolerance, mobilization, and impact.
Since the 2015 financing for development agreement, donor governments and their development finance institutions have all been singing from the same hymn sheet: we must do more to mobilize private investment. Here I will argue that setting leverage targets in isolation might not get us what we want: more investment in developing countries. Overall investment volumes in chosen markets may make a better target, but any incentives must be soft to minimize the temptation to put public money where it is not needed.
Development finance institutions (DFIs) have long resisted the idea that they ought to support coordinated national development strategies in the countries that they invest in, but if conversations around private roundtables at the recent World Bank/IMF meetings are anything to go by, that’s where they may be heading. And if so, it may be the private sector itself that leads them there.
Last week we published a new paper, Can Africa Be A Manufacturing Destination?, that highlights the persistence of high labor costs in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa. This led to a lively debate on Twitter, initiated by Chris Blattman at the University of Chicago.
China has long been the factory of the world. But as wages there rise, manufacturers are looking to other countries and regions. Meanwhile, African countries have a huge and burgeoning population of young people looking for jobs. So now many wonder—could Africa be the next big destination for manufacturers? And if not, then what? CGD senior fellow Vijaya Ramachandran joins the podcast to discuss a new CGD paper on that very question.
There are arguments for and against “spending through the tax system.” On one hand tax incentives are relatively easy to implement; they don’t require an outlay of cash and they make use of information that revenue agencies already collect. But on the other, loading the tax system with too many policy objectives conflicts with the drive for a coherent, simple, transparent tax system. Despite decades of advice from international organisations to curtail tax incentives, they remain a popular tool for governments.
Businesses have unique opportunities to help refugees and improve their bottom line at the same time, says CGD senior policy fellow Cindy Huang. All they need is the right policy framework. Get the highlights from Huang’s latest report, Global Business and Refugee Crises, a collaboration with the Tent Foundation.
The world, as they say, is moving “beyond aid.” As true as that may be in aggregate, however, the trend doesn’t apply evenly across groups of countries. While fairly significant data gaps prevent a complete and unbiased picture, the available data show that ODA remains a comparatively prominent source of external financing for fragile states.
At the end of the 1990s the future of Latin America seemed grim in the face of four devastating problems—slow and unsteady economic growth, persistent poverty, social injustice, and personal insecurity. For 10 years Latin America had pursued—with considerable vigor—the 10 economic policies that make up the Washington Consensus, the growth formula promoted by the U.S. Treasury and the international financial institutions. But performance fell far short of expectations, and a new approach was needed.
The imperative for US development finance has increased significantly due to a number of factors over the last decade. There is growing demand for private investment and finance from businesses, citizens, and governments in developing countries. Given the scale of challenges and opportunities, especially in promoting infrastructure investments and expanding productive sectors, there is an increasingly recognized need to promote private sector-based solutions.
The budget just released zeroes out the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the nation’s development finance institution. In an era where many government agencies are under threat, it may not be surprising that OPIC would come under fire. Yet, none of the arguments often used to justify killing off OPIC are logical. Here’s why.
This paper ties together the macroeconomic and microeconomic evidence on the competitiveness of African manufacturing sectors. The conceptual framework is based on the newer theories that see the evolution of comparative advantage as influenced by the business climate—a key public good—and by external economies between clusters of firms entering in related sectors. Macroeconomic data from purchasing power parity (PPP), though imprecisely measured, estimates confirms that Africa is high-cost relative to its levels of income and productivity. This finding is compared with firm-level evidence from surveys undertaken for Investment Climate Assessments in 2000-2004.
This paper considers what role pull instruments or challenge programs (such as the World Bank's Poverty Reduction Support Credits or the United States' Millennium Challenge Account) could play within the overall framework of foreign aid, asking how they could be designed to function as effective and efficient incentive instruments and how they could best complement other aid modalities.
Bill Easterly challenges a central rationale of the push for the 2015 Millennium Development Goals: the idea that poverty can be overcome with a big push in foreign aid and investment. Instead, change must come from the bottom up, he says.