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With Jim Kim’s abrupt departure from the World Bank, there has been a swirl of commentary on questions of legacy, the best of which aim to answer the question, “how is the bank doing?” For large multilateral institutions like the World Bank, that’s a frustratingly difficult question to answer. Seemingly objective measures like volume of financing or sectoral targets are simplistic and bring their own value judgements about what the institution should be doing. Annual reports give us a narrative about institutional performance, but a heavily biased one.
In a new CGD paper, we assess the likelihood of debt problems in the 68 countries we identify as potential BRI borrowers. The big takeaway: BRI is unlikely to cause a systemic debt problem, yet the initiative will likely run into instances of debt problems among select participating countries—requiring better standards and improved debt practices from China.
As the World Bank makes a case to its shareholders for a capital increase this year, they are grappling with an uncomfortable truth: one of their biggest borrowers, China, happens to hold the world’s largest foreign exchange reserves, is one of the largest recipients of foreign direct investment, enjoys some of the best borrowing terms of any sovereign borrower, and is itself the world’s largest sovereign lender.
If one thing is for certain following the CGD event, the “Asian Development Bank at 50,” the ADB’s work is far from done, and there will be no lack of ambition on the part of the US government and the bank’s other shareholders when it comes to a forward-looking agenda.
When the Chinese government launched a new multilateral development bank (MDB) with “infrastructure” in the name—the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)—it hardly seemed far-fetched to assume a strong Chinese preference for infrastructure-related MDB financing. Everything we know about China’s bilateral development financing suggests the same. Yet, a closer look at the AIIB’s charter suggests openness to a broader range of sectors and activities, pointing to potential for investments in “other productive sectors.”
In our previous post, we calculated voting power in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), using the formula published in the bank’s articles of agreement. Here we compare AIIB voting power to that of the World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB), the other two major multilateral development banks MDBs) active in Asia.