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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.

 

Projected IDA allocations under scenario 4, with grants rising to 59%

More World Bank Borrowers Will Need Grants, Not Loans. As a Result, More World Bank Donors Will Need to Pony Up

Rather than providing relief on repayments from existing loans, IDA’s debt sustainability framework adjusts future financing from loans to grants for countries at high risk of debt distress. But what happens to IDA’s loans-to-grants model when a large number of IDA countries trigger the risk thresholds? Can IDA afford its commitment to debt sustainability?

An interactive chart of the lending pipeline for the World Bank in response to COVID-19

Tracking the World Bank’s Response to COVID-19

In recent years, many commentators have asked if the World Bank is still relevant. We’re about to find out. To track the World Bank’s response to COVID-19, we’ve built a small interactive tool to display how much each country has received to date, and what’s currently in the pipeline for approval.

The World Bank's headquarters in Washington, DC. Photo by Ryan Rayburn / World Bank

The COVID-19 Crisis Is the Time for the World Bank to Embrace Bold Economic Policies

It is often said that governments “fight the last war” during times of economic crisis. But based on David Malpass’ remarks from last week’s G20 Finance Ministers call, it appears the World Bank is preparing to fight the wars of the 1990s by revamping old—and largely discredited—crisis policy prescriptions to address what is likely to be a severe economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

An image of 3 percent

Three Percent is a Big Difference

There is a little-noticed but important difference between the World Bank’s original goal for poverty reduction and the first of the subsequent UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG1).  The difference is that the Bank’s goal was to reach a 3 percent poverty rate by 2030, while the SDG1 is to “eradicate” poverty by 2030, where “eradicate” means zero. Yet that 3 percent could well make a big difference

Stacks of US dollars. Adobe Stock

More Than $1 Trillion in MDB Firepower Exists as We Approach a COVID-19 “Break the Glass” Moment

In retrospect, the scale up in MDB financing during the 2008-2010 crisis, though significant, now looks conservative as we consider the potential scale of damage from the current COVID-19 pandemic. To put the question bluntly, if the human and economic devastation follows a worst-case scenario, just how much could the MDBs do to respond? We attempt to answer that question by assessing the legal, rather than prudential, constraints on MDB lending.

An aerial view of Dhaka, Bangladesh. Photo by Dominic Chavez / World Bank

“Spend What It Takes” to Respond to COVID-19 in Poor Countries, Too

It is now only a question of when, not if, the COVID-19 pandemic will exact its human and economic toll on the poor and developing countries of South Asia, Africa, and Latin America the way it is already ravaging East Asia, Europe, and North America. And when it does, they too will need to respond with exceptional heath and financial measures in the face of this unprecedented global challenge.

A worker at a power station in Kabul. Photo by Graham Crouch, World Bank

5 Principles on the Uses and Misuses of Debt Relief to Address the Coronavirus Pandemic

Debt relief for low-income countries is on the table of measures to consider for coronavirus response. The imperative right now is to get cash to LICs as quickly as possible. Suspending some debt service payments may be a good first step in freeing up some budget space for new spending. Beyond that, protracted debt-relief negotiations with multilateral and commercial creditors right now could be a distraction at best but could also actively undermine the ability of institutions like the World Bank to offer new financing for crisis response.

A pile of money, giftwrapped. Adobe Stock.

Development Finance Institutions Should Be Instruments of Public Policy, Not Private Gain

The World Bank Group has some very clear (and very good) guidelines about what makes for a successful public-private partnership where governments contract service provision like energy supply or education from private firms. Sadly, the bank has been ignoring that rule recently. And that is a sign of a broader problem in donor-backed financing of public-private partnership deals.

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