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Candidate for IDB President

Contents of this page

  • Press Release
  • Vision Statement
  • Selected Blogs
  • Selected Papers
  • Interviews
  • Recently Published Books
  • Video Presentations and Interviews
  • Selected Audio Files

Press Release from Bolivia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, February 28, 2020

(Comunicado de Prensa del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Bolivia, 28 de Febrero, 2020)

View Statement

Augusto Lopez-Claros(Photo credit: Kayla Mahood, 2020)
Augusto Lopez-Claros(Photo credit: Kayla Mahood, 2020)

I broadly support the Bank’s current strategy of promoting greater social inclusion and equality. At least some of the disquiet seen in 2019, prior to the onset of COVID-19, reflects concerns on the part of broad segments of the region’s population about slowing economic growth, and perceptions that its recent modest benefits have not been equitably distributed. Latin America has worrisome levels of income inequality, which engenders political instability and undermines the resilience of democratic processes and institutions. Moreover, the link between inequality and social breakdown has become more acute in recent decades because of developments in communication technologies: income disparities are much more glaring—and dispiriting—than they were three decades ago.


The IDB should, therefore, promote public policies that will help restore a more inclusive vision of development in the region and play a leadership and catalytic role in engaging with the private sector and civil society in support of innovative new approaches to social inclusion. The challenges are formidable and span a broad spectrum of issues. But the good news is that there is a vast treasure trove of relevant knowledge drawn from the experiences of other countries in the world that can be tapped for insight and potential application. These include: (a) better management of scarce public resources, with greater priority given to investments in education and the nurturing of skills, particularly among the young; (b) modernization of dilapidated infrastructure; and (c) improving the quality of public health systems, which COVID-19 has shown to be in a state of disrepair in many countries in the region. Addressing these challenges will also involve a fundamental rethinking of current government spending priorities, as many countries in the region now misallocate resources in poorly targeted subsidies and waste substantial resources in other “unproductive expenditures.” Furthermore, there must be a stronger commitment to the use of public policy to foster a more efficient deployment of budgetary resources with due regard to the sustainable management of public finances, as too many countries in the region are already operating well beyond prudent levels of indebtedness.


The region must further promote the empowerment of women. The education of girls has proven to be especially effective for delivering a demographic dividend that boosts per capita economic growth. As growing numbers of women join the workforce, they contribute more to family income, resulting in higher savings, more productive investment, and better use and repayment of credit, all beneficial for economic growth. Other studies show that greater female power in the household fosters higher investment in children’s health and education, thereby planting the seeds for the accumulation of human capital in the next generation. Judging by the experience of other developed countries, the political empowerment of women, who remain underrepresented in parliaments and on company boards, will also improve the quality of governance in the region. Gender equality is fundamental for human prosperity.


Corruption, as shown by many publicly available governance datasets, remains a serious problem in Latin America. We now better understand the destructive consequences of corruption, which reduces government revenue, fosters an underground economy, discourages private sector development, worsens income distribution, increases uncertainty, and leads to various forms of crime. In short, corruption is devastating for human prosperity. There already exists a vast arsenal of effective instruments for helping countries tackle the challenges of endemic corruption, from greater transparency and openness in government spending, to reducing cumbersome and opaque regulations, deploying smart technologies, and stimulating stronger international cooperation in the context of various multilateral anticorruption initiatives. The stakes for the region could not be higher, as corruption reduces the legitimacy of government in the eyes of civil society and the business community and sharply undermines support for public policies, however well-designed. The IDB should continue to strengthen institutional capacity and the rule of law in the region, recognizing that laws should be of general application, well-known to all affected parties, understandable, not subject to internal contradictions or retroactive application, nor subject to frequent or arbitrary change—all key elements of an effective rule-of-law framework.


Over the next several decades, Latin America and the Caribbean will be increasingly affected by climate change and its collateral effects, including rising sea levels, biodiversity loss and disruptions in weather patterns, with potentially destabilizing consequences for the region’s agriculture. Significant investments will be required to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies, transform transportation networks, adapt industrial processes and agriculture, increase community resilience to natural disasters, and anticipate the displacement of coastal populations and those vulnerable to drought.


Confronting these challenges will require more effective mechanisms of international cooperation, both globally and within the region, particularly against the backdrop of COVID-19. The IDB has a unique opportunity in coming years to take the lead in promoting greater regional economic integration. Latin America and the Caribbean would benefit greatly from freer mobility of the factors of production, and from creating an enlarged economic space where synergies and complementarities could be exploited to improve productivity and efficiency. It is my firm conviction that the vision of a more united region could be a powerful cohesive force, serving both as an effective catalyst for change and modernization, and providing the impetus for a new stage in the economic and social development of the region.


Selected Blogs

The Ends & Means of Development
click links to read blog articles
  • Responding to COVID-19: Priorities Now and Preparing for the Future
    (31 March 2020)
  • What have we done so far and what are some of the early lessons? Some thoughts on these two vital questions follow.

    The crisis now

    The COVID-19 crisis is the largest shock to the global economy since the 2008–09 global financial crisis, maybe since the Great Depression of the early 1930s. To avoid overwhelming their health care systems, governments have sought to slow down the spread of the virus by implementing various suppression policies. They have made the case that social distancing measures are central to these efforts, as shown by the recent experience of Korea, Singapore and Taiwan, where various combinations of lockdowns, testing and contact tracing appear to have slowed down the rate of infections.
    Responding to COVID-19: Priorities Now and Preparing for the Future
    PDF version – English
    Respondiendo a COVID-19: Prioridades Ahora y Preparándonos para el Futuro
    PDF version – Spanish translation

  • Latin America under Fire! What is to Be Done?
    (16 November 2019)
  • The past few months have witnessed violent demonstrations in several Latin American countries, including Chile, the only country from the region (other than Mexico) to have joined the OECD, the rich-country club. Moises Naim and Brian Winter recently published a thoughtful article in Foreign Affairs, titled “Why Latin America Was Primed to Explode” (October 29), in which they make a strong case that following the commodity boom of the early part of the previous decade the recent past has seen a sharp deceleration of economic growth. “Against the backdrop of stagnating wages and rising costs of living, indignities such as inequality and corruption have become more difficult for many people to swallow,” they persuasively argue. I put forward here some reflections on the economic growth debate and what this means for Latin America.
    Latin America under Fire! What is to Be Done?
    PDF version – English
    América Latina en el punto de mira: ¿Qué se ha de hacer?
    PDF version – Spanish translation
    Selected audio highlights
    Audio de varios puntos relevantes
  • Why Gender Equality is not a Zero-Sum Game Implying Loss for Men
    (May 14, 2020, published in the Comparative Jurist, William & Mary School of Law)
  • The single greatest antidote to poverty and social stagnation is the emancipation of women. Failed economies have been critically analyzed since the early twentieth century, with dedicated researchers analyzing problems ranging from the role of education in poverty alleviation, to the benefits of macroeconomic stability, to the advantages of an open trade system, to the consequences of corruption. The role of women, however, has been relegated to the periphery when assessing the effectiveness of economic policy.
    Why Gender Equality is not a Zero-Sum Game Implying Loss for Men
    PDF version – English
    PDF version – Spanish translation

  • Nationalism as an Infantile Disease
    (30 October 2017)
  • I was a young economist at the International Monetary Fund in the mid-1980s, working on the IMF’s Spanish economic team. A group of us would travel to Madrid periodically to consult with the government on their economic policies and to issue reports that identified the main economic challenges facing the authorities and to take a thorough look at what was being done to address them.
    Nationalism as an Infantile Disease
    PDF version – English
    El Nacionalismo Como Enfermedad Infantil
  • International cooperation, ethics and climate change
    (14 November 2016)
  • In pursuing meaningful sustainable development, and investing in conservation and redressing the environmental damage caused by decades of neglect, we need to better explore and understand the role of international cooperation and why human values and ethics are central to this debate.
    International cooperation, ethics and climate change
    Cooperación internacional, ética y cambio climático
    PDF version – Spanish translation
  • Six Strategies to Fight Corruption
    (15 May 2014)
  • Having looked at some of the ways in which corruption damages the social and institutional fabric of a country, we now turn to reform options open to governments to reduce corruption and mitigate its effects. Rose-Ackerman (1998) recommends a two-pronged strategy aimed at increasing the benefits of being honest and the costs of being corrupt, a sensible combination of reward and punishment as the driving force of reforms. This is a vast subject. We discuss below six complementary approaches.
    Six Strategies to Fight Corruption
    PDF version -English
    Seis estrategias para luchar contra la corrupción
    PDF version – Spanish translation
  • Nine Reasons Why Corruption Is a Destroyer of Human Prosperity
    (31 March 2014)
  • In an earlier blog post, we commented on the sources of corruption, the factors that have turned it into a powerful obstacle to sustainable economic development. We noted that the presence of dysfunctional and onerous regulations and poorly formulated policies, often created incentives for individuals and businesses to short-circuit them through the paying of bribes. We now turn to the consequences of corruption, to better understand why it is a destroyer of human prosperity.
    Nine Reasons Why Corruption Is a Destroyer of Human Prosperity
    PDF version – English
    Nueve razones por las que la corrupción destruye la prosperidad humana
    PDF version – Spanish translation

  • What Are the Sources of Corruption?
    (10 February 2014)
  • In a previous blog we discussed the factors that have pushed issues of corruption to the centre of policy debates about sound economic management. A related question deals with the sources of corruption: where does it come from, what are the factors that have nourished it and turned it into such a powerful impediment to sustainable economic development? Economists seem to agree that an important source of corruption stems from the distributional attributes of the state. For better or for worse, the role of the state in the economy has expanded in a major way over the past century. In 1913 the 13 largest economies in the world, accounting for the bulk of global economic output, had an average expenditure ratio in relation to GDP of around 12%. This ratio had risen to 43% by 1990, with many countries’ ratios well in excess of 50%.
    What Are the Sources of Corruption?
    PDF version – English
    ¿Cuáles son las Fuentes de la Corrupción?

    Selected Papers

  • Global Financial Architecture and the International Monetary Fund
    (Chapter 15 in Global Governance and the Emergence of Global Institutions for the 21st Century, Cambridge University Press, 2020)
  • We review the role the IMF has played over the past several decades in managing financial crises and suggest possible areas for reform. We examine the background to the 2008-09 global financial crisis and analyse many of its implications, particularly the sharp increase in the burden of public debt which was a consequence of the crisis and identify this as a source of systemic risk. We argue that our current financial system has a number of vulnerabilities which pose a major threat to financial stability and economic prosperity and could, in a crisis, interact in highly destabilizing ways with other aspects of our governance system. The UN Charter clearly introduced the concept of economic and social development as a key responsibility of the international community and two of the UN leading agencies, the IMF and the World Bank, are very much at the centre of implementing the UN’s mandate in this area. We focus on the IMF because of the central role the organization plays in the management of the global monetary system, a system whose weaknesses were dramatically revealed during the 2008-09 financial crisis. We present several proposals for reforms aimed at improving the global financial architecture. [pdf].
  • The Moral Dimension of the Fight Against Corruption
    (The Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, Summer/Fall 2017)
  • From the sidelines of economic research twenty-five years ago, corruption has now become a central preoccupation of development thinkers and policy makers. Postwar experience and insight, reflected in a growing body of academic research, highlight the causes and consequences of corruption in the development process and its remedies. [pdf].
  • Removing Impediments to Sustainable Economic Development: The Case of Corruption
    (Journal of International Commerce, Economics and Policy, January 2015)
  • This paper examines causes and consequences of corruption within the process of economic development. Drawing on experiences and insights accumulated during the post-war period and reflected in a growing body of academic research, the paper analyzes institutional mechanisms that sustain corruption and the impact of corruption on development. It argues that many forms of corruption stem from the distributional attributes of the state in its role as the economy’s central agent of resource allocation. It also addresses the question of what can be done about corruption and discusses the role of economic policies in developing incentives and institutions to reduce its incidence. [pdf].
  • Does Culture Matter for Development?
    (Policy Research Working Paper, The World Bank, November 2014)
  • Economists have either avoided or struggled with the concept of culture and its role in economic development. Although a few theoretical works—and even fewer empirical studies—have appeared in the past decades, this paper tries to build on a multidisciplinary approach to review the evidence on whether and how culture matters for development. First, the paper reviews available definitions of culture and illustrates ways in which culture can change and create favorable conditions for economic development. Second, the paper discusses the challenges of separating the effect of culture from other drivers of human behavior such as incentives, the availability of information, or climate. Finally, the paper argues that globalization has led to the emergence of a set of progressive values that are common cultural traits of all developed economies.. [pdf].
  • Fiscal Challenges After the Global Financial Crisis: A Survey of Key Issues
    (Journal of International Commerce, Economics and Policy, May 2014)
  • The global financial crisis and the response to it have contributed to a sharp increase in public indebtedness in a large number of countries. While there have been episodes of high debt in the past, there are a number of long-term challenges today that are likely to complicate the implementation of sustainable fiscal policies in the coming years. Population ageing and climate change are factors that are likely to contribute to rising fiscal pressures and the crisis has highlighted the risks and vulnerabilities stemming from reduced fiscal space. This paper argues that heightened fiscal challenges can only be dealt successfully by adopting a long-term fiscal planning horizon. The paper analyzes a range of available policy tools that countries have used in the past to improve fiscal management. [pdf].
  • The Innovation Capacity Index: Factors, Policies, and Institutions Driving Country Innovation
    (Chapter 1 in The Innovation for Development Report: 2009-2010, Palgrave Macmillan, 2009)
  • The relative importance of various drivers of economic growth and prosperity has evolved over time and, for a growing number of countries, innovation, in its many dimensions, is emerging now as a leading factor. This chapter discusses the role of innovation in enhancing the development process. In particular, it features the Innovation Capacity Index, a methodological tool that examines a broad array of factors, policies, and institutions that have a bearing on strengthening innovation in a large number of countries, including their institutional environment, their human capital endowment, the presence of social inclusion, the regulatory and legal framework, the infrastructure for research and development, and the adoption and use of information and communication technologies, among others. The primary aim is to offer a didactic tool for policy dialogue on various dimensions of innovation. As will be shown, the methodologies developed allow the formulation of policy prescriptions that are country-specific, based on a nation’s stage of development, and the nature of its political regime. [pdf].
  • Women’s Empowerment: Measuring the Global Gender Gap
    (World Economic Forum and Harvard Business Review, 2005)
  • This study is a first attempt by the World Economic Forum to assess the current size of the gender gap by measuring the extent to which women in 58 countries have achieved equality with men in five critical areas: economic participation, economic opportunity, political empowerment, educational attainment, and health and well-being. Countries that do not capitalize on the full potential of one half of their societies are misallocating their human resources and undermining their competitive potential. Consolidating publicly available data from international organizations, national statistics and unique survey data from the World Economic Forum’s Executive Opinion Survey, the study assesses the status accorded to women in a broad range of countries. [pdf]. [pdf].

    Interviews


    An interview with Augusto Lopez-Claros in Radio New Zealand on alternative metrics of human welfare and development. (December 21, 2018)

    An interview with Augusto Lopez-Claros in Radio New Zealand on alternative metrics of human welfare and development.
    Augusto Lopez-Claros

    Augusto Lopez Claros es entrevistado en Radio New Zealand en Auckland, el 21 de diciembre del 2018 por la periodista Charlotte Graham-McLay, para conversar sobre los planes del gobierno para introducir el presupuesto nacional del 2019, basado en indicadores alternativos de bienestar humano.
    Augusto Lopez-Claros

    Protest

    Want less poverty in the world? Empower Women

    A new book explains why gender equality is key to economic prosperity. Interview


    Recently Published Books

    Equeality-for-women

    Equality for Women = Prosperity for All
    (St. Martin’s Press, 2018)


    Praise for Equality for Women = Prosperity for All

    “The authors of Equality for Women=Prosperity for All expose the economic wastefulness of gender inequity.” “This is an ideal book for policymakers who need to understand the broader picture of gender inequality and its impact. The authors use clear and expressive language, peppering the text with examples and cases from around the world. For individuals who may not have experience applying a gender lens to development issues, this book provides insights into the many ways that the oppression of women is tied to economic stagnation and too often shielded from policy interventions by arguments of national or cultural sovereignty.”

    – Excerpted from Domesticity’s Gross Product, a review published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review.
    Alyson Colón, Associate Director at the Institute for Gender and the Economy (GATE)
    Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.


    “A compelling and often disturbing read by two authors well read in other social sciences, religion and history – and with a fluid command of the pen. The chapter on violence against women is gripping and disturbing, its commonality amply documented. Do not overlook the chapter on culture, with its argument that incentives are what matter, and its thorough rejection of doctrinal beliefs as legitimate “cultural” traditions – a message for the Taliban and the Pope as well.”

    Nancy Birdsall, founding President of the Center for Global Development and former executive vice-president of the Inter-American Development Bank


    “Equality for Women = Prosperity for All is a captivating read. It shines a spotlight on the discrimination and injustice that keep women and girls in the shadows of society; it shows the links between gender stereotyping and oppression, between domestic violence and political instability. It highlights how the costs of gender inequality are borne not only by the individual but by society as a whole.”

    Veronika Bard, Swedish Ambassador, Geneva, Switzerland


    The authors of ‘Equality for Women = Prosperity for All’ offer a refreshing look at gender inequality, a subject rendered all the more painful for being both entrenched in society and exhausted by analysis over the past decades. Their unique combination of economics and literature, of a deep commitment to feminism and an extensive grasp of global politics succeeds in looking at gender relations from an unconventional perspective, and in a language that is exceptionally transparent. This book promises to be a major contribution to our understanding of a shamefully dark and endemic problem.

    Professor Ruth Halperin-Kaddari
    Chair
    The Ruth and Emanuel Rackman Center for the Advancement of the Status of Women
    Faculty of Law, Bar-Ilan University, Israel
    Vice-President: UN CEDAW Experts Committee

    Selected Excerpts from Equality for Women = Prosperity for All

  • One Too Many (from Chapter 2, The Virus of Violence). View pdf
  • Good Intentions (from Chapter 2, The Virus of Violence). View pdf
  • The Challenge of Quotas (from Chapter 3, Women and Work). View pdf
  • Incentives (from Chapter 4, The Culture Question). View pdf
  • Barometers of Progress (from Chapter 6, Education for Equality). View pdf
  • Interviews in Spanish newspapers

  • La desigualdad de género supone una monstruosa pérdida de recursos
    (El Mundo, June 3, 2019)
  • La crisis no habría sido tan intensa con mujeres en la toma de decisiones
    (ABC, May 26, 2019)
  • El presupuesto es el mejor instrumento de los países para conseguir la igualdad
    (El Pais, May 24, 2019)

  • global Governance

    Global Governance and the Emergence of Global Institutions for the 21st Century
    (Cambridge University Press, 2020)


    Praise for Global Governance and the Emergence of Global Institutions for the 21st Century

    Global Governance is a book of exceptional breadth and vision, written for an unprecedented period in the historical evolution of humankind.  Defying the cynicism and myopia that often define the political culture of our times, it dares to state the obvious truth that global interdependence is an inescapable reality, and that far from naïve idealism, building effective global institutions in the 21st century is a matter of survival for our species.”

    Payam Akhavan, Professor of International Law, McGill University, Montreal, Canada


    “Lopez-Claros, Dahl and Groff propose radical reforms to the charter that authorizes and rules the United Nations, and other methods of improving the current muddled state of global governance. Their case is persuasive. This book’s trenchant analysis of what ails the running of the globe should be read by policymakers everywhere, and certainly by those many citizens who concern themselves with fostering a better and more functional world. Change comes slowly, but this book is a prodding catalyst.”

    Robert I. Rotberg, Harvard Kennedy School, author of On Governance


    “The bold idealism championed by Lopez-Claros, Dahl and Groff is just what the planet needs, with not a moment to lose if we are to halt and reverse the trajectory of imminent disaster on which we have set ourselves. As a former Ambassador to the United Nations with first-hand experience on the UN Security Council, I applaud the vision laid out for transformational change grounded in past institutional experience.”

    Amanda Ellis, Executive Director Hawaii & Asia-Pacific Arizona State University, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability


    “In this outstanding volume, Lopez-Claros, Dahl and Groff document the existential challenges facing our global institutions, from environmental decline and the failure of existing international security mechanisms to mass population flows and the crisis of sovereignty and civil society engagement. The resulting landscape might seem hopeless and overwhelming, if not for the authors’ innovative, wide-ranging and thought-provoking recommendations for reshaping existing institutions to expand their relevance and effectiveness. Their ideas for updating our decades old structures include creating an international peace force, ratifying a United Nations Bill of Rights, reforming the U.N. Security Council and International Monetary Fund, establishing a civil society chamber, and beyond. Readers may not endorse every one of their suggestions, but they are invited into a fascinating game of “what if” and “why not?” It is an invitation that should not be missed.”

    Ambassador Donald Steinberg, Senior Advisor, Center for Strategic and International Studies


    “This volume makes a powerful call for action to transform the international institutions that govern human affairs. Grounded in rigorous historical exploration, it offers a vision for collective courage to change what we can and reimagine what we consider outmoded and inadequate. This is the blueprint for a new global architecture.”

    Maria Ivanova, Associate Professor of Global Governance and Director of Center for Governance and Sustainability, University of Massachusetts Boston


    “This path-breaking work provides important insights for practitioners and scholars struggling to understand the economic, political, and scientific forces roiling the world. As humanity seeks ways, well beyond the traditional controls available to individual nation states, to manage problems which pose enormous risks as well as rich opportunities, this book points in promising directions.”

    Dan Sarooshi QC, Professor of Public International Law, Faculty of Law and the Queen’s College, University of Oxford; and Essex Court Chambers, London


    Augusto Lopez Claros is interviewed by John Berger, former Senior Editor at Cambridge University Press and current Managing Director and Moderator of Vital Interests, a blog from the Center on National Security at Fordham University Law School, February 27, 2020. View interview


    Video Presentations and Interviews

    Equality for Women = Prosperity for All
    – Television interview with Moises Naim, Efecto Naim, March 19, 2019.


    Equality for Women = Prosperity for All
    – Talk by Augusto Lopez Claros at the Institute for Future Studies, Stockholm, February 13, 2019


    Economía Global: Motores de la prosperidad en el largo plazo
    – Presentación de Augusto Lopez-Claros en la Universidad Católica del Uruguay, Montevideo, 11 de abril de 2013.


    Mapping the Way Forward: The Launch of the 2016 Doing Business Report
    – Presentation at the Center for Strategies & International Studies (CSIS), Washington, DC, October 30, 2015.


    Augusto Lopez-Claros interviewed by Cristina Manzano,
    Editor, Foreign Policy (Spanish edition),
    in Madrid, 20 January 2014

    Augusto-Cristina

    Interview Questions:

    1. What, in your opinion, are some of the most important things that policymakers need to get right to improve competitiveness and boost prosperity? (8:26 min.)
    2. What are some of the factors that have contributed to make corruption less of a taboo subject among policymakers? From being largely absent in the development debate in previous decades, we seem to have moved to a consensus that it matters a great deal for development. (8:27 min.)
    3. What are the sources of corruption? (6:51 min.)
    4. What is the impact or what are the consequences of corruption? (8:08 min.)
    5. What can we do to deal more effectively with the plague of corruption? (8:37 min.)
    6. What, in your view, are some of the main challenges that we face in the aftermath of the global financial crisis? (9:53 min.)
    7. Beyond these long-term fiscal challenges, what other lessons have we learned over the past half a century about what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to fiscal management? (6:20 min.)
    8. Is the persistence of widening income disparities something that we should worry about? Why? (6:38 min.)
    9. In the latest Doing Business Report the authors talk about the concept of convergence. What is the significance of this? (7:27 min.)
    10. Some governments have decided to impose quotas (for instance, on the participation of women on corporate boards) as a way of accelerating the elimination of gender inequalities. But the idea has had its critics. What do you think? (5:27 min.)
    11. Why is it taking so long to achieve full economic equality for women? (6:32 min.)


    Selected Audio Files

    Key Factors in Nurturing the Capacity for Innovation

    Key Factors in Nurturing the Capacity for Innovation
    Augusto Lopez-Claros, 2009

    Competitiveness and Economic Development in Latin America

    Competitiveness and Economic Development in Latin America
    Augusto Lopez-Claros, 2011

    Reflections on the Concept and the Meaning of Sustainable Development.

    The Challenges of Sustainable Development
    Augusto Lopez-Claros, 2020