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In a recent interview on CNN en Español I discussed the evolving role of the U.S. Federal Reserve Board and its implications for developing countries. People in Latin America are following this issue closely. That’s because the global crisis has reminded everybody that an unstable financial sector in the industrial countries has powerful ripple effects not only on the financial sector of developing countries but also on the real economy, with serious consequences for poverty and inequality.
In testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade last week, CGD president Nancy Birdsall argued that support for the G-20 commitments to increase lending resources at the IMF is a critical part of ensuring U.S. recovery from the economic crisis and global prosperity and security. She was, however, confronted with a host of concerns about whether multilateral lending would go to governments like Iran, Sudan, and Syria, and with one member of Congress’s view that he “is a citizen of the United States, not the world.”
If the commitments made last week by the heads of state at the G-20 meeting materialize quickly, this is good news indeed. The increase in available IMF and MDB resources for middle- and low-income countries, along with IMF’s announcement of a Flexible Credit Line which will allow countries to borrow amounts without pre-determined limits or conditionality, are crucial for helping these countries cope with the impact of the financial crisis.
Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on International Development held a hearing last week on “USAID in the 21st Century: What Do We Need for the Task at Hand?” CGD senior fellow Steve Radelet, Georgetown professor and CGD visiting f
Leaders from more than 20 major nations announced Thursday (see the Communiqué) that they would make available an additional $1 trillion through the International Monetary Fund and other institutions to help developing countries cope with the global economic crisis.
As part of CGD’s efforts to track the impact of the financial crisis, I have been leading a series of conference calls to discuss how recent policy responses—or the lack thereof—may affect poor people in the developing world. Our latest call on the prospects for Russia suggests that the government could—and should—do more.
There’s a lot to like in UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s call yesterday for the heads of heads of state attending the April 2 London Summit to commit to new measures to help developing countries cope with the global economic crisis. According to an interview reported in today’s Financial Times:
A friend who works in Wall Street was livid upon learning about the U.S. House of Representatives’ move to tax the controversial AIG bonuses at 90 percent. My friend—who is from Latin America and does not work at AIG—said that it looks like the United States is turning into Argentina. He was referring to last year when, in the midst of the commodity boom, the Argentine government attempted to raise the tax rate on the additional profits to around 90 percent and to increase its access to resources it nationalized the private pension plans.
The accelerating downward spiral in the global economy has made me increasingly convinced that the G20 leaders gathering at the London Summit in early April should announce that they stand ready to provide up to $1 trillion to help developing countries to cope with the crisis over the next two years. This wouldn't be a handout, but an important part of a global stimulus package. It's in the rich world's own self-interest to anticipate the developing world's financing needs and to put in place the necessary resources. To do so is both a moral and a security imperative.