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Parting Words: Stephen Groff on His Tenure at the Asian Development Bank

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.

China Borrows a Lot of Money from the World Bank, and That’s Okay

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.

AIIB, Tajikistan, and the Risks of Non-Concessional Lending

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank's (AIIB) second loan to Tajikistan in the space of a year raises questions about lending on “hard terms” to poor countries. In its eagerness to meet the investment needs of Asian countries, is the AIIB going to get burned by lending at non-concessional rates to poor countries? Or, if a country becomes unable to pay all its bills, will it treat the AIIB as a preferred creditor and prioritize debt service payments over the needs of the poor?

Folsom's Departure Creates Opening to Fix The World Bank Fight Against Corruption

Suzanne Rich Folsom, the controversial head of the World Bank's internal anti-corruption unit, resigned yesterday to return to the private sector. With Ms. Folsom's departure almost all of Paul Wolfowitz's inner circle has now left the Bank. I expect that some of the Bank's critics will cast this turn of events as victory of the bank bureaucracy over the forces of good in a fight for truth, justice, the American way, and, most especially, zero corruption.