Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

Increasing External Debt and Electoral Cycles in Emerging Markets: How Do They Affect Prospects for Long-Term Growth?

Recently, the World Bank published its latest Global Economic Prospects report, which highlights a welcomed cyclical recovery for all major regions of the world following recent slow growth. I was pleased to participate in a panel discussion at CGD analyzing the report’s findings, and to share my perspectives both on its implications and on future global outlooks—­­especially for emerging market and developing economies.

Aid Transparency and Private Sector Subsidies at the IFC

Vijaya Ramachandran, Ben Leo, Jared Karlow and I have just published two papers looking at where and in what capacity the IFC, OPIC, and selected European development finance institutions (DFIs) are investing their money. The core of the papers is a dataset that Jared painstakingly put together by scraping public documentation about DFI projects. It wasn’t easy because DFIs are considerably behind many aid agencies in releasing usable data on their portfolios. And that lack of transparency presents a significant problem if those same DFIs spend aid money on subsidizing the private sector.

The International Finance Corporation’s Mission Is Facilitating Risky Investments—So Why Is It Taking on Less and Less Risk?

The IFC is designed to catalyze investments in countries that investors might consider too risky to invest in alone. But our recent analysis of IFC’s portfolio found that it is shying away from risky investments, raising serious questions about whether the IFC is focusing on the places where it can make the most difference.

Canada’s Feminist Foreign Policy: Building on a Strong Start

The Canadian government has made some impressive steps towards prioritizing gender and women’s rights in international relations. I’m hoping that’s a sign of momentum towards even bigger steps in the New Year—using the full range of tools from trade and migration policy through investment and aid.

DFIs Embark on a Voyage of Rediscovery

Development finance institutions (DFIs) have long resisted the idea that they ought to support coordinated national development strategies in the countries that they invest in, but if conversations around private roundtables at the recent World Bank/IMF meetings are anything to go by, that’s where they may be heading. And if so, it may be the private sector itself that leads them there.

A stack of US dollars on a keyboard

Can Fintech Improve Financial Inclusion? Adequate Regulation Can Help

The difficulties encountered by emerging markets’ regulators in balancing socially desirable innovations and possible risks are accountable for the slow development of fintech regulations in these economies. To address these problems, the framework developed in CGD’s report, Financial Regulations for Improving Financial Inclusion can support regulators’ efforts. This approach, based on three main principles, encourages the private sector to successfully adopt and adapt digital finance solutions for low-income populations while circumventing risks.

Why Development Finance Institutions Use Tax Havens

Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) exist to promote development by investing in the poorest, least developed countries. They often route those investments via holding companies or private equity funds domiciled in tax havens. On the face of it, that seems absurd: tax havens are widely seen as a drain on development, depriving cash-strapped governments of billions of dollars in public revenue. In a new paper I argue that whilst widespread opposition to DFIs investing via tax havens is understandable, it is misguided. Banning the use of tax havens would do more harm than good. 

The Potential Belt and Road Debt Bubble: Are We Asking the Right Questions?

During the recent IMF and World Bank meetings, all eyes were on China. As the US administration contemplates scaling back its global economic engagement, China is doing the exact opposite. But there is increasing attention being paid to risks associated with Chinese financing on two fronts.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: How Do Tax Incentives Impact Investment?

There are arguments for and against “spending through the tax system.” On one hand tax incentives are relatively easy to implement; they don’t require an outlay of cash and they make use of information that revenue agencies already collect. But on the other, loading the tax system with too many policy objectives conflicts with the drive for a coherent, simple, transparent tax system. Despite decades of advice from international organisations to curtail tax incentives, they remain a popular tool for governments.

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