Ideas to Action:

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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.

 

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 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.

Solving the Private Sector Aid Imbroglio

In 2014, Mark Lowcock, then head of the UK’s Department for International Development, pulled off an unexpected coup: securing an agreement between donor governments on new rules for counting official loans as aid. Some neat diplomatic footwork is needed again now, because negotiations over extending this agreement to donors’ investments in the private sector are threatening to fall apart. Among the consequences could be that the UK walks away from using internationally agreed standards for measuring aid and starts to create its own statistics. Other countries may follow.    

Can Technology Solve the De-risking Problem?

In recent years, regulators have raised their expectations for what counts as adequate AML/CFT compliance. At the same time, they have cracked down on institutions that have fallen short. While arguably necessary, this more stringent enforcement has produced some unintended side effects. In particular, it has put pressure on banks’ ability and willingness to deliver certain types of services, notably correspondent banking services.

The G20’s Commitment to Basel III: How will Emerging Markets be Affected? A New CGD Working Group Investigates

CGD is establishing a high-level Working Group, composed of leading experts on Basel III and economic development, that will identify challenges for emerging markets’ financial stability and development derived from the global implementation of Basel III. Effective and appropriate implementation of Basel III’s recommendations could make a huge contribution to global financial resilience with the attendant benefits for development progress. The G20’s commitment on this issue is welcome.

Stay tuned for more on our Working Group’s progress in the coming months.

Financial Stability Board Echoes CGD Finding on Decline in Correspondent Banking

The Financial Stability Board's long-awaited report finds that the number of active CBRs has declined by 6 percent since 2011 and has continued through 2016, affecting all regions and major international currencies. The analysis suggests that small economies are among the most affected by CBR withdrawal. The bottom line: the decline of correspondent banking relationships, especially with smaller and poorer countries, remains an important policy issue.

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