Publications

    Malcolm McPherson, March 2020 

    This paper examines how China can improve transboundary resource management within the Greater Mekong Basin (GMB) through its participation in the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC). Such improvement would ensure the efficient management and equitable development of the basin’s natural resources and ecosystems.

    David Dapice, November 2017

    How rapidly will or could demand for power grow in Vietnam? What will interest rates be? Will the cost of generating plants go up or down, and by how much? What will the cost of each fuel be? Will the cost of carbon or other pollution begin to enter into investment decisions?

    This paper will examine these questions. It will begin by looking at demand projections and investments in efficiency – getting more output per kilowatt hour used. It will then try to estimate the costs of building and running various types of generating plants in Vietnam over time. It will also use various costs of carbon to see if including these both as a source of global warming and as an indicator of local pollution changes the calculation. Changes in the domestic supply of gas will also influence the set of potential solutions, as will the declining costs of solar electricity and battery storage. In all of this it is the system or mix of investments that need to work, not any single investment.

    Anh, Vu Thanh Tu, Laura Chirot, David Dapice, Huynh The Du, Pham Duy Nghia, Dwight Perkins, and Nguyen Xuan Thanh. 2015. “Institutional Reform: From Vision to Reality”. Read full paper Abstract
    This paper is intended to provide context for the policy discussions that will take place during the fifth Vietnam Executive Leadership Program (VELP). Over the course of the week-long VELP 2015, it is hoped that the arguments and ideas presented in this paper will be discussed, debated, and challenged, and that the paper will contribute constructively to the debate around critical questions facing the Vietnamese leadership and Vietnamese society more broadly today.
    Anh, Vu Thanh Tu, Laura Chirot, David Dapice, Huynh The Du, Pham Duy Nghia, Dwight Perkins, and Nguyen Xuan Thanh. 2015. “Institutional Reform: From Vision to Reality”. Read full paper Abstract
    This paper is intended to provide context for the policy discussions that will take place during the fifth Vietnam Executive Leadership Program (VELP). Over the course of the week-long VELP 2015, it is hoped that the arguments and ideas presented in this paper will be discussed, debated, and challenged, and that the paper will contribute constructively to the debate around critical questions facing the Vietnamese leadership and Vietnamese society more broadly today.
    Nghia, Pham Duy, Nguyen Xuan Thanh, Huynh The Du, Do Thien Anh Tuan, Ben Wilkinson, Vu Thanh Tu Anh, Dwight Perkins, and David Da. 2013. “Unplugging Institutional Bottlenecks to Restore Growth: A Policy Discussion Paper Prepared for the 2013 Vietnam Executive Leadership Program (VELP)”. Read Full Paper Abstract

    Pham Duy Nghia, Nguyen Xuan Thanh, Huynh The Du, Do Thien Anh Tuan, Ben Wilkinson, Vu Thanh Tu Anh, Dwight Perkins, and David Dapice, August 2013

    This paper was prepared for the fourth annual Vietnam Executive Leadership Program (VELP), held at the Harvard Kennedy School from August 26 to 30, 2013. The paper aimed to provide participants, including Vietnamese government officials, scholars, and corporate executives, with a concise assessment of some of the key public policy challenges confronting Vietnam today. This paper is by no means comprehensive; it is not possible to offer an exhaustive analysis of every policy area in a brief study. In selecting which issues to address, the authors were guided by the priorities articulated by the Vietnamese government in policy statements promulgated over the past year. By design, the paper was delivered as a work in progress, which the authors encouraged the participants to challenge and strengthen through rigorous debate over the five days of VELP. It is hoped that the paper also will serve as a catalyst for informed discussion and debate among the larger policy community in Vietnam.

    Pincus, Jonathan, Vu Thanh Tu Anh, Pham Duy Nghia, Ben Wilkinson, and Nguyen Xuan Thanh. 2012. “Structural Reform for Growth, Equity, and National Sovereignty”. Read Full Paper Abstract

    Jonathan Pincus, Vu Thanh Tu Anh, Pham Duy Nghia, Ben Wilkinson, and Nguyen Xuan Thanh, January 2012

    This paper has been prepared for the third annual Vietnam Executive Leadership Program (VELP), to be held at Harvard Kennedy School from February 12 to 17, 2012. The goal of this paper is to provide participants in the VELP forum, including Vietnamese government officials, international scholars, and corporate executives, with an assessment of some of the key public policy challenges confronting Vietnam today. This paper is by no means comprehensive; by necessity, it has not been possible to undertake an exhaustive study of every policy area. In selecting which issues to address, the authors have been guided by the priorities of the Vietnamese government as they have been articulated in policy statements promulgated over the past year.

    Vietnam Program, July 2010

    A broad consensus has emerged in Vietnam that higher education is in need of deep and wide-reaching reform. This consensus extends from students and their families to public intellectuals and educators to policymakers at the highest levels of government. Vietnam‘s national competitiveness increasingly depends on skilled human capital, which its higher education system is not delivering. Ever growing numbers of families are choosing to send their children abroad for undergraduate and even high school education in order for them to acquire the skills and credentials needed to succeed in the global economy.

    The New School, June 2009

    Knowledge and human capital are now the main drivers of economic development and the key determinants of national competitiveness. The role of research universities in the development process has changed as a result of the emergence of the knowledge economy. Research universities educate a country's most talented students, irrespective of socioeconomic status; their graduates serve society in important ways, as innovators, entrepreneurs, managers, civil servants, and political and civic leaders. In developing countries, apex research universities often play a critical role in adapting advancements in global knowledge to conditions in their own countries. The knowledge generated by research universities contributes to social well being and prosperity. Research universities are increasingly viewed as symbols of national prestige. Having a handful of research universities benefits the entire national education system by producing highly qualified professors and teachers. For all of these reasons, countries have expended vast sums of money in an effort to build world-class research universities. However, the results of these efforts have been mixed.

    Dwight Perkins and Vu Thanh Tu Anh, March 2009

    Vietnam has made a remarkable transition since 1989 from a centrally planned industrial sector dominated by administrative allocation of inputs and outputs to an industrial sector governed mainly by market forces. Furthermore, Vietnam accomplished this transition while avoiding the sharp fall in GDP and industrial output that occurred in so many other centrally planned economies. In the 1980s, Vietnamese exports covered less than half of the country's relatively small import requirements and virtually no Vietnamese industries were capable of selling their products in the demanding markets of Europe and North America. Twenty years later Vietnamese exports are twenty fold what they were in the 1980s and industrial products sold around the world are the largest contributors to these export sales.

    Dapice, David, and Nguyen Xuan Thanh. 2009. “Vietnam’s Infrastructure Constraints”. Read Full Paper Abstract

    David Dapice and Nguyen Xuan Thanh, February 2009

    Successful countries provide economy and society with infrastructure needed to maintain growth. Development experience suggests that investing 7 percent of GDP in infrastructure is the right order of magnitude for high and sustained growth. Over the last twelve years, the government of Vietnam was able to sustain infrastructure investment at 10 percent of GDP. This remarkably high level of investment has resulted in a rapid expansion of infrastructure stocks and improved access. Despite this achievement, Vietnam is experiencing more and more infrastructure weaknesses that negatively affect its ability to sustain high economic growth in the long term. Transport and electricity – the two most essential infrastructure activities – appear to be the weakest infrastructure sectors in Vietnam with blackouts and traffic jams occurring more and more frequently.

    Jay Rosengard and Huynh The Du, January 2009

    Given the importance of financial sector development for sustained economic growth, especially in the context of Vietnam’s own performance since embarking the Đổi Mới economic reforms twenty years ago, the objective of this study is to analyze the financial sector development in Vietnam and China within the framework of financial sector reforms introduced in the two countries. The study assesses the progress to date and future challenges for each country; compares and contrasts financial sector reform strategies and performance; and formulates policy recommendations for further financial sector reform in Vietnam.

    Thanh, Nguyen Xuan, Vu Thanh Tu Anh, David Dapice, Jonathan Pincus, and Ben Wilkinson. 2009. “Structural Change: The Only Effective Stimulus”. Read Full Paper Abstract

    Nguyen Xuan Thanh, Vu Thanh Tu Anh, David Dapice, Jonathan Pincus, and Ben Wilkinson, January 2009

    This paper responds to a request from the Vietnamese government for an analysis of the impact of the global economic crisis on Vietnam, and policy recommendations to help the government stimulate growth and reduce the risk of financial crisis. The government has proposed an economic stimulus valued at six billion U.S. dollars, although details of this plan are still being worked out as this document is prepared. The roots of macroeconomic instability in Vietnam are domestic, and that the appropriate policy response is structural change. This paper argues that the deepening of the international economic downturn strengthens the case for structural reforms. Further, the paper suggests that the fiscal and monetary stimulus proposed by the government will not have the desired impact but will instead accelerate inflation and increase systemic financial risks. The authors recommend an alternative set of policies including gradual depreciation of the VND and adjustments to the public investment program to delay capital and import intensive projects in favor of labor intensive projects that do not rely heavily on imports.

    “For Vietnam, success is a choice.“ This sums up the verdict delivered by the Center’s Vietnam Program to the government of Vietnam in early 2008. In a country accustomed to outpourings of praise from multilateral donors for its economic performance, the sobering assessment was headline news. On January 15, 2008, a Vietnam Program delegation headed by Director Tom Vallely met with Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung in Hanoi, and presented him with this report. The paper was written in response to a request from Prime Minister Dung that the Vietnam Program conduct a critical analysis of Vietnam’s socioeconomic development strategy for the period through 2020.
    Thanh, Nguyen Xuan, Vu Thanh Tu Anh, David Dapice, Jonathan Pincus, and Ben Wilkinson. 2008. “The Structural Roots of Macroeconomic Instability”. Read Full Paper Abstract

    Nguyen Xuan Thanh, Vu Thanh Tu Anh, David Dapice, Jonathan Pincus, Ben Wilkinson, September 2008

    This paper responds to a request from the Vietnamese government for an analysis of the short- and long-term challenges confronting the Vietnamese economy. The paper argues that restoring macroeconomic stability and positioning the economy for long term growth will require fundamental, structural reform. The paper begins by comparing Vietnam’s performance over the past 20 years to other countries in the region. This comparison reveals a set of worrisome trends which, taken together, raise questions about the sustainability of Vietnam’s growth path. Part II examines the current macroeconomic environment and assesses the government’s response to date. The paper concludes that, while government policy has succeeded in reducing macroeconomic turbulence in the short run, nothing has been done to address the structural weaknesses of the Vietnamese economy.

    Vietnam Program, May 2008

    The Vietnamese economy is facing its most serious challenges since the mid-1980s. Over the past several months the government has stated its determination to curb inflation and restore macroeconomic stability. These are indeed critical priorities, but the government’s actions to date to achieve this end have been largely ineffectual. This Vietnam Policy Discussion Paper argues that a restoration of the situation prior to the onset of the current instability is neither possible nor desirable. This is because the current situation is due largely to structural weaknesses in the Vietnamese economy; the international conditions that have been offered as explanations are, at best, secondary factors.

    Thanh, Nguyen Xuan, Vu Thanh Tu Anh, David Dapice, Jonathan Pincus, and Ben Wilkinson. 2008. “Macroeconomic Instability: Causes and Policy Responses”. Read Full Paper Abstract

    Nguyen Xuan Thanh, Vu Thanh Tu Anh, David Dapice, Jonathan Pincus, and Ben Wilkinson, February 2008

    This paper argues that a series of resolute and coordinated policy interventions is needed to restore macroeconomic stability, cushion the impact of the global economic downturn, and keep Vietnam on the path of sustainable growth. Specifically, the Vietnamese government must quell price inflation, reduce fiscal and trade deficits and slow down money and credit growth through a consistent and synchronized set of policy interventions. Gradual deflation of the real estate price bubble is needed in order to avoid a sudden collapse in prices, which would, if it occurred, destabilize the financial sector with potentially serious contagion effects for the real economy. Successful implementation of these policy prescriptions in the near term, and maintaining a stable economic environment over the medium to long term, will require greater policy coordination than the Vietnamese government has demonstrated in recent years.

    Vietnam Program, August 2006 

    This report records the findings of a mission to Cambodia sponsored by the UNDP and UNICEF. The objective of the mission was to assess the present state of education in Cambodia and to make recommendations for how new investment might be used effectively to promote continued reform through institutional innovation. The mission was convened against the backdrop of ongoing negotiations between the U.S. and Cambodia over several PL-480 “humanitarian“ loans made to the government of Lon Nol (1970-1975). There is bipartisan interest in the U.S. Congress in allocating these payments to support Cambodia's continued development. It has been suggested that if and when Cambodia agrees to a repayment scheme, the United States government might use these repayments to endow a special vehicle to support education in Cambodia.