International Financial Institutions

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CGD research examines how the International Financial Institutions or IFIs—the  IMF, World Bank, multilateral development banks, and other international development agencies—can become more responsive to the needs of developing countries and ensure that growth opportunities they promote reach the world’s poorest people.

The IFIs are major sources of financial and technical support for developing countries. While their influence on development outcomes is often less than their more virulent critics contend, it can be quite substantial, especially in smaller low-income countries. Yet the policies of these institutions are largely determined by the major shareholders—the rich countries that provide most of the capital—rather than by the borrowers.

CGD research and analysis in this area offers innovative, practical suggestions for making the IFIs more responsive to the needs of the developing countries, thereby increasing the positive impact of their work on global development. For example, CGD research contributed to a series of policy changes in the World Bank and elsewhere that opened the way for debt relief for Nigeria.  The Center’s publications on the IFIs include Rescuing the World Bank and The Hardest Job in the World: Five Crucial Tasks for the New President of the World Bank.

Kemal Derviş and CGD president Nancy Birdsall have proposed a new lending instrument, The Stability and Growth Facility, to be housed at the IMF or the World Bank. The Stability and Growth Facility would provide a predictable source of long-term funds at a cost low enough to help high-debt emerging market countries reduce their debt burdens without having to forego vital pro-poor expenditure programs.

In 2009 CGD President Nancy Birdsall hosted an open forum blog called the Bretton Woods Non-Commission, as a counterpart to two officially organized commissions that delivered reports that year, one on the World Bank and one on the IMF.