Dr. 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.

Dr. Byrd 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.

Dr. Byrds' 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

Why Have the Wars in Afghanistan and Ukraine Played Out So Differently?

Why Have the Wars in Afghanistan and Ukraine Played Out So Differently?

Thursday, June 23, 2022

By: William Byrd, Ph.D.

The Taliban insurgency and U.S. troop withdrawal, and Russian incursions culminating in the February 24 invasion, constituted existential “stress tests” for Afghanistan and Ukraine, respectively. Ukraine and its international supporters have succeeded in preventing an outright Russian victory, imposing severe and continuing costs on Russia — ranging from high casualties to financial sanctions. Whatever happens next, the invasion has solidified Ukraine’s national will, status and orientation as an independent, Western-oriented sovereign country. In sharp contrast, Afghanistan’s government and security forces collapsed within a month after U.S. troops left the country, its president and many others fled, and the Taliban rapidly took over.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

Ukraine War Fallout Will Damage Fragile States and the Poor

Ukraine War Fallout Will Damage Fragile States and the Poor

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

By: William Byrd, Ph.D.

The world is gripped by the Russian invasion of Ukraine — already the most destructive European conventional military conflict since World War II. The damage being done most tragically to Ukraine, indirectly to Europe (not least the burden of refugee inflows) and to Russia (including as a result of crushing sanctions) is only too obvious. But the repercussions will be wider — for the global economy more generally and disproportionately for poorer countries, especially those affected by conflict and state fragility.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global PolicyFragility & Resilience

Taliban Are Collecting Revenue — But How Are They Spending It?

Taliban Are Collecting Revenue — But How Are They Spending It?

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

By: William Byrd, Ph.D.

Although economic and humanitarian conditions in Afghanistan continue to deteriorate, the Taliban have taken some positive steps toward financial stability by publishing a fiscally responsible three-month budget and raising considerable amounts of domestic revenue — especially through customs duties, which have risen with a crackdown on corruption. 

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Economics

How to Mitigate Afghanistan’s Economic and Humanitarian Crises

How to Mitigate Afghanistan’s Economic and Humanitarian Crises

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

By: William Byrd, Ph.D.

Afghanistan is teetering on the brink of a famine and economic collapse. Millions face the prospect of falling into poverty, starvation and even death. On December 22, the U.S. Treasury Department and United Nations Security Council provided sanctions relief for humanitarian assistance flowing to Afghanistan. USIP’s William Byrd says these actions are welcome but insufficient and discusses what more can be done to ensure the delivery of essential, life-saving aid to the Afghan people.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Fragility & Resilience

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