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Latin America faces old and new development challenges. While, over the last two decades, some countries have implemented solid macroeconomic policies and many have improved their financial regulatory and supervisory frameworks, large segments of the population have not reaped the benefits from economic growth. The COVID-19 crisis has only made things worse—poverty reduction is expected to suffer a setback of more than 10 years and inequality continues to rise.
Structural problems, including very low productivity, the substantial size of the informal economy and the lowest savings rate in the emerging world, remain unsolved. Novel issues, like the migration from Venezuela, or the health and economic challenges that COVID-19 brings about add further pressure to weak social and political consensus—and the looming risk of a financial crisis persists.
CGD’s Latin America Initiative provides sound analysis on these issues and advances recommendations to policymakers and multilateral organizations to support the effort of overcoming these challenges to climb the development ladder and reach shared prosperity.
América Latina afronta, al mismo tiempo, nuevos y viejos desafíos en materia de desarrollo. Aunque, en las últimas dos décadas, algunos países han implementado políticas macroeconómicas sólidas y han mejorado sus marcos regulatorios y de supervisión, amplios segmentos de la población no se han beneficiado del crecimiento económico. La crisis de la COVID-19 solo ha empeorado las cosas: se espera un retroceso de más de 10 años en materia de reducción de la pobreza y la desigualdad continúa aumentando.
Problemas estructurales, como la muy baja productividad, el gran tamaño de la economía informal y los niveles de ahorro más bajos en el mundo emergente, continúan sin resolverse. Nuevos temas, como la migración venezolana o los desafíos sanitarios y económicos generados por la COVID-19, ejercen aun mayor presión sobre un débil consenso social y político. Además, continúa existiendo la amenaza de una crisis financiera.
La Iniciativa Latinoamericana de CGD busca analizar estos temas y proponer recomendaciones que apoyen los esfuerzos de los formuladores de políticas y los organismos multilaterales para avanzar en el proceso de desarrollo de la región y lograr una prosperidad compartida.
Shared growth—growth that helps to build a middle class—is now widely embraced as a central economic goal for developing countries. In this new working paper CGD president Nancy Birdsall reviews how macroeconomic policies shape incentives for inclusive growth, focusing on fiscal discipline; fair revenue and expenditure practices; and a business-friendly exchange rate. Relying heavily on the experience in Latin America and drawing lessons for other parts of the developing world, Birdsall argues that growth that strengthens the middle classes helps poor people, too.
In this working paper CGD research fellow David Roodman explains how the four biggest developing countries -- Brazil, Russia, India and China, a group Goldman Sachs dubbed the "BRICs" -- stack up to their rich-country counterparts on the environment component of the annual Commitment to Development Index (CDI). He finds they generally perform well on greenhouse gas emissions, consumption of ozone-depleting substances, and tropical timber imports. Major weaknesses include low gas taxes, Amazon deforestation and heavy fossil fuel use.
For the past decade, U.S. attention to Latin America has focused mainly on promotion of free trade and opposition to narcotics trafficking and security threats. But there are signs that Washington is beginning to recognize the importance of helping the region tackle longstanding poverty and social inequality. Candidates at this weekend's Democratic presidential debate called for a robust foreign policy in Latin America and the Bush administration has recently shown a renewed interest in promoting development and improving Washington's image in the region. This new brief by CGD president Nancy Birdsall and Inter-American Dialogue president Peter Hakim sets forth a practical agenda for how the U.S. can help. Examples: buttress free trade agreements with aid programs that compensate losers; include land redistribution and alternative employment programs in the so-called "war against drugs."
In this new book, Bill Cline, a joint senior fellow at CGD and the Peterson Institute for International Economics, provides the first ever estimates of the impact on agriculture by country, with a particular focus on the social and economic implications in China, India, Brazil, and the poor countries of the tropical belt in Africa and Latin America. His study shows that the long-term negative effects on world agriculture will be severe, and that developing countries will suffer first and worst.
A White House conference on social justice in Latin America this week may signal a shift to U.S. engagement with the region that goes beyond security, free trade, and anti-narcotics efforts. CGD president Nancy Birdsall and Peter Hakim, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, suggest seven ways that the U.S. could more effectively support Latin American efforts to address persistent inequality--starting with a more effective approach on trade and drugs.
Access to financial services -- ranging from credit to the use of electronic means of payment -- is crucial for growth and poverty reduction. This new working paper by CGD senior fellow Liliana Rojas-Suarez tells why access to financial services is low in Latin America and suggests innovative solutions. Among the recommendations: public-private partnerships to improve financial literacy; training specialized juries to adjudicate financial disputes in ways that protect the rights of borrowers and creditors; and regulatory changes to speed the spread of technology offering financial services to low-income families and small firms.
Senior fellow Liliana Rojas-Suarez presents "How will Latin America Fare after the Current Crisis?" before high-level government officials from Latin America and elsewhere at a forum organized by the Central Bank of Colombia. She argues that key actions taken before the crisis have saved Latin America from what could have been even worse repercussions. Additional reforms are still needed, however—especially those that would enable the implementation of countercyclical fiscal policy to counteract the effects of adverse external shocks.
Update: On March 29, the U.S. Senate confirmed Pamela White to be Ambassador of the United States of America to the Republic of Haiti.
Assuming she is confirmed by the Senate, Pamela White is set to become the next U.S. ambassador to Haiti. In her March 14 confirmation hearing, White and the senators agreed on one message: Haiti’s unstable government is impeding post-earthquake recovery, including U.S. aid efforts. But White could consider alternative approaches—from migration policy to mobile money—that might do more to help Haitians right now.
Prepared by members of the Latin American Shadow Financial Regulatory Committee and Staff of the Center for Global Development.
How should the Inter-American Development Bank respond to the challenges of the new century? This new Report offers six recommendations for IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno to consider, explaining how the Bank is uniquely poised to grapple with the key challenges facing the institution. Read A New Era at the Inter-American Development Bank