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  • Author: Susan Schadler
  • Publication Date: 04-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: Research on links between the level of a country’s public debt and its broader economic developments has been heatedly debated in the economic literature. Two strands of the research stand out — one linking the level of debt to a country’s GDP growth rate and the other examining the debt level as an EWI of economic crises. As a broad generalization, research at the moment favors the view that high levels of debt are not a cause, in and of themselves, of low growth nor are they particularly good predictors of impending economic or even debt crises. In principle, the empirical findings have obvious implications for policy makers confronting the question of how to fashion policies (and fiscal policy in particular) when a country has a high debt burden. The IMF, as both a contributor to the literature and an adviser concerned with preventing or dealing with debt crises, has a particularly important stake in navigating the findings. Whether in its surveillance (routine annual advice to all member countries) or the construction of its lending programs to support countries in or near crisis, the IMF must answer the question “how much does the level of debt matter?” Despite the empirical research that casts doubt on the importance of debt, the level of debt figures prominently in the algebra of debt sustainability and the IMF’s real world policy advice. This policy brief examines the nexus of the relatively strong conclusions coming from the academic research and the IMF’s policy advice. It addresses the following question: given that the broad conclusion from the academic literature is that the level of debt itself is not systematically bad for growth or stability, why does the debt level seem to figure rather prominently in the IMF’s policy advice and conditionality?
  • Topic: Debt, Development, Economics, International Monetary Fund, Financial Crisis, GDP, Global Markets
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Bobby Anderson
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: West Papua is the most violent area of Indonesia. Indonesian security forces battle the country's last active separatist insurgency there. The majority of Indonesia's political prisoners are Papuans, and support for independence is widespread. But military repression and indigenous resistance are only one part of a complex topography of insecurity in Papua: vigilantism, clan conflict, and other forms of horizontal violence produce more casualties than the vertical conflict that is often the exclusive focus of international accounts of contemporary Papua. Similarly, Papua's coerced incorporation into Indonesia in 1969 is not unique; it mirrors a pattern of long-term annexation found in other remote and highland areas of South and Southeast Asia. What distinguishes Papua is the near-total absence of the state in indigenous areas. This is the consequence of a morass of policy dysfunction over time that compounds the insecurity that ordinary Papuans face. The author illuminates the diverse and local sources of insecurity that indicate too little state as opposed to too much, challenges common perceptions of insecurity in Papua, and offers a prescription of policy initiatives. These include the reform of a violent and unaccountable security sector as a part of a broader reconciliation process and the urgent need for a comprehensive indigenous-centered development policy.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Political Violence, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: Indonesia
  • Author: Louise Van Schaik
  • Publication Date: 11-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: This policy brief addresses the opportunities for and impediments to green growth and energy security in Colombia. As a result of renewed international activity and high vulnerability to the effects of climate change, Colombia has embraced ambitious green growth objectives and climate change mitigation goals. Rapid economic growth and rising peak demand centres for energy may well go hand in hand with clean energy uptake. Most Colombian citizens are highly aware of the need for a low-carbon growth trajectory and the country has already invested substantially in renewable energy development. However, dominance of private sector interests within the state, resulting from a powerful transnational alliance of extractive industries, may hamper long-term green growth efforts to succeed. Greening the private sector in a post-conflict Colombia may prove to be one of the crucial steps in consolidating Colombia’s low-carbon growth trajectory.
  • Topic: Development, Energy Policy, Environment
  • Political Geography: Colombia
  • Author: Ries Kamphof
  • Publication Date: 11-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: This policy brief addresses the opportunities for and impediments to green growth and energy security in Kenya. It is part of a two-year research project on energy security and green growth in middle income countries by means of political economy analysis. Other project outputs can be found here. Kenya has taken a leading role in the region on several fronts, including its ambitions to address climate change and boost green growth while improving the country’s energy security. Efforts have been underway to realise this goal. Most vividly illustrated by the execution of large-scale geothermal, hydro and wind power projects. Yet, not all is straightforward. Constitutional reform has led to a new institutional framework which presents both opportunities and obstacles to green growth implementation. Moreover, the presence of oil and coal reserves and the ambition to exploit these threaten efforts to build a low-carbon economy. Kenya is currently at crossroads, and decisions taken today may influence its green growth potential for the decades to come.
  • Topic: Development, Energy Policy, Environment
  • Political Geography: Kenya
  • Author: Owen Barder, Petra Krylová
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The Commitment to Development Index ranks 27 of the world's richest countries on their policies that affect more than five billion people living in poorer nations. Moving beyond comparing how much foreign aid each country gives, the CDI quantifies a range of rich country policies that affect poor people.
  • Topic: Development, Poverty, Foreign Aid, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: King Salman has confirmed his reputation as a religious conservative through the reappointment of traditionalist clerics However he has also made some effort to streamline the Saudi government Recent changes have given considerable power to two men from the next generation: King Salman's son and his nephew The result may be good for hard security measures, but less certain for the soft measures necessary for Saudi Arabia to weather the storm.
  • Topic: Security, Development, Economics, Islam, Political Economy, Governance
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: Turkey will play a significant role in Syria's future, more so than any other neighbor, though the history between the two nations has been a troubled one Although Turkey's President Erdogan was at first keen to have good relations with Syria's President Assad, and succeeded in doing so, since 2011, they have gone sour Turkey is determined to influence the outcome of Syria's civil war, even if it finds no support from its allies The reappointment of Hakan Fidan to head the Turkish Intelligence Service may usher in a more active phase of Turkish involvement in the conflict.
  • Topic: Development, War
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Syria
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: • A multinational joint task force consisting of Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, and Niger has driven Boko Haram from key territorial strongholds in northeastern Nigeria; on June 18, the Chadian military conducted airstrikes against six Boko Haram bases in Nigeria • But the terror group continues to launch deadly, near-daily attacks throughout the region—including on June 15 with twin suicide bombings in Chad—using guerrilla tactics rather than conventional warfare • Nigeria’s newly-inaugurated president, Muhammadu Buhari, has moved quickly to support regional counter-Boko Haram efforts, insisting on Nigerian leadership in the task force and pledging $100 million in financial support • Despite the nascent successes of the joint task force, Islamic State gains in North Africa and, in particular, Libya, could impact the flow of weapons and fighters into Nigeria; Boko Haram pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in March of this year.
  • Topic: Development, Islam, Terrorism, Insurgency, Governance
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 07-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: China’s coal consumption fell marginally in 2014, the first such drop this century, in large part as a result of its policies to address its severe air pollution, develop renewable and alternative energy, and transition its economy away from heavy industry. China should take advantage of its current circumstances to adopt an aggressive national coal consumption cap target and policy to peak its coal consumption as soon as possible, no later than its next Five Year Plan (2016–2020), so that it can peak its CO2 emissions by 2025. It can achieve this target by building upon its existing achievements in developing clean energy such as wind and solar power, and by prioritizing renewable energy development over coal in its western expansion. China can help lead a transition to clean energy that will contribute greatly to global efforts to keep warming to no more than 2°C, and can serve as a model for other developing countries.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Development, Energy Policy, Industrial Policy
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Theodore H. Moran, Lindsay Oldenski
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Japan is reemerging as the most important source of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States. In 2013 Japanese firms were the largest source of new inflows of FDI into the United States for the first time since 1992, injecting almost $45 billion of fresh investment into the US economy in that year alone. Moran and Oldenski show how Japanese investment in the United States differs from that of other countries along several dimensions. These differences not only make FDI by Japanese firms especially valuable but point to some important policy goals for attracting it. Although the automotive sector is the single largest industry for Japanese investment in the United States, the focus should not be on competing to attract the auto industry in particular nor should any active industrial policy of "picking winners" be pursued. Japanese investment is unique because of its research and development intensity, manifested across a number of industries in which Japanese multinationals invest other than automobiles. US policy should focus on reinforcing and expanding the factors that attract high-performing firms and high-value production stages to the United States, regardless of industry.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Foreign Direct Investment, United States
  • Political Geography: Japan