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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.

Why An African Development Bank?

I arrived in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire in February, 1994 to begin what was to be an almost 5 year tenure in the Office of the U.S. Executive Director to the African Development Bank. It was a tenure that would see the Bank, under President Babacar Ndiaye, driven to the brink of collapse and a Bank, under President Omar Kabbaj, reestablish its financial standing and regain some (though not much) program and institutional credibility.