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William Byrd is a development economist whose academic background includes a doctorate in economics from Harvard University and a master's degree in East Asian Regional Studies from the same institution. He joined USIP in April 2012 as a senior expert, working on Afghanistan.

He had long experience at the World Bank, where most of his work was country-focused, including China, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. He lived for significant lengths of time in all of these countries and speaks Dari and Chinese, with some knowledge of other languages. During 2002-2006, he was stationed in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he served as the World Bank’s country manager for Afghanistan and then as economic adviser. His publications include six books on China, other books, and numerous articles, among them several papers on Afghanistan, as well as a number of World Bank reports. Examples include reports on Afghanistan’s economic development, public finance management, economic cooperation in the wider Central Asia region, vulnerabilities to corruption assessments, Afghanistan’s drug industry, and economic incentives and development initiatives to reduce opium production, as well as papers on these topics, security sector reform from a financial and development perspective, and on responding to Afghanistan’s development challenge.

Publications By William

Afghanistan’s Rapid Revenue Growth

Afghanistan’s Rapid Revenue Growth

Thursday, September 1, 2016

By: M. Khalid Payenda; William Byrd

Afghanistan’s impressive revenue turnaround in 2015—when total government revenue exceeded expectations with an increase of 22 percent—has been followed by further rapid revenue growth in the first half of 2016. This represents an important achievement in the challenging context of Afghanistan, though the country will remain heavily aid dependent for the foreseeable future, underlining the importance of the upcoming Brussels international donor meeting on Oct. 5. There are concerns, however, ...

Economics & Environment; Democracy & Governance

Technocratic Reforms in Afghanistan: Benefits and Limitations

Technocratic Reforms in Afghanistan: Benefits and Limitations

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

By: William Byrd

Afghanistan’s “technocratic” reforms have resulted in impressive progress in areas such as public financial management. However, these reforms alone will not solve the country’s pressing security, political, and economic problems. This brief outlines the benefits and limitations of technocratic reforms and emphasizes that government and international attention should not be diverted from concrete, short-term measures to improve government functioning, strengthen security, and stimulate a mode...

Economics & Environment; Democracy & Governance

What Can Be Done to Revive Afghanistan’s Economy?

What Can Be Done to Revive Afghanistan’s Economy?

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

By: William Byrd

Reviving the Afghan economy during a time of intensifying violent conflict, declining external financial aid, and ongoing political uncertainty and dysfunction will be extremely challenging. But the country cannot wait for these entrenched problems to be addressed. While keeping expectations modest, this report proposes some targeted, near-term measures to increase confidence and stimulate the economy. Rather than engaging in politics as usual and following conventional policy prescriptions t...

Economics & Environment; Democracy & Governance; Global Policy

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