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.

 

Chart showing the loans received and repayments for World Bank clients. Most countries are net positive but some are barely and others are negative.

The World Bank’s Response to Our Analysis of its COVID Relief Efforts

Our recent paper examining the World Bank’s COVID-19 performance garnered a response from the institution, which you can read here. We very much welcome the bank’s comments on its crisis performance in reaction to our paper. We stand by the data and conclusions of our paper, but it’s worth reviewing some of the issues under debate here and reiterating the core questions and findings from our work.

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?

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.

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.

Chart showing falling US pledges to IDA and rising Chinese pledges to IDA

The US and China Have Very Different Takes on IDA and the Global Fund: Why that Matters for the Future of Multilateral Aid

When it comes to the United States, the reality is that the Global Fund is winning the fundraising game hands down. China, meanwhile, doubled its contribution to IDA—contrast that with the country’s longstanding indifference to the Global Fund. Clearly the world’s most important emerging donor views the multilateral architecture differently than the world’s most important traditional donor does.

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.

Pages

Tags