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Views from the Center

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Fix the Common Framework for Debt Before It Is Too Late

When the pandemic first struck, dealing with excessive debt and debt service burdens of developing countries figured prominently on the international response agenda. The G20 produced the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI)—a program to defer official debt service due by mostly low-income countries (LICs) in 2020 which was then extended through the end of 2021.

Image of a bigfoot track imprint in stone

Finding Bigfoot: New Data Shows the Difficulty of Tracking IMF Special Drawing Rights

Tracking the movements of IMF special drawing rights (SDRs) can be confusing and challenging. In an effort to increase transparency around SDR transactions, the IMF released its Annual Update on SDR Trading Operations. Most of the report focuses on Voluntary Trade Arrangements, a backbone of the SDR system. In this post, let’s take a look at two questions: What are Voluntary Trade Agreements, and why do they matter for allocating and rechannelling SDRs?

Economics & Marginalia: January 2022

Can 2022 really only be two weeks old? I can’t really tell if the problem is that it feels old or that I feel old, but either way it seems like January has been a couple of months long already.

The Make or Break EU-Africa Summit

On 17th February, the long-awaited summit between the African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU), delayed since 2020, will finally begin. But since the event was scheduled, the world has been ravaged by a pandemic that has stalled a decade of continuous growth and human capital improvement on the African continent.

It is becoming increasingly clear that Europe’s future wellbeing will depend more and more on the future wellbeing of its closest neighbour, Africa. So, can this summit still do what it originally set out to—and what it must set a course for— and reset the EU’s relationship with Africa as a “true partnership of equals”?

Peru Education Image

The Future of Peru’s Rural Children at Risk

A massive leak that disrupted Peru’s national teacher selection test threatens the country’s impressive improvements in learning. 

Over the eight years prior to the pandemic, the most respected international tests show that Peru made more progress in education than any other country in Latin America. Over the longer period from 2009 to 2018, global tests show that a 15-year-old in Peru today masters one full year more of math, science, and language content than counterparts in 2009. This is something few other countries have achieved. What is more, research shows that children in Peru’s most remote rural areas—often the poorest—made more learning progress between 2015 and 2018 than ever before. It is no exaggeration to say that for perhaps the first time in Peru’s history, the terrible, persistent, unfair gaps in education for urban and rural children are closing. Sustaining and accelerating this progress is the road to more equal opportunity, incomes, and health for citizens of Peru no matter where they are born. 

An image of Indonesia women working on a sewing machine in a shop.

Women-Owned Businesses Suffered During the Pandemic. Here’s Why.

Women-owned businesses around the world have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, closing at higher rates than businesses owned by men. There are a variety of reasons why this happened: partly because women are concentrated in sectors that suffered a greater drop in demand during the pandemic, and also because existing gender gaps affected their ability to adapt. For example, women-owned businesses often had trouble accessing digital services needed to take their businesses online.

Cracked and drought-stricken soil. Adobe Stock

The IMF’s Surveillance Role and Climate Change

In 2021, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) completed its periodic Comprehensive Surveillance Review (CSR), which considered how the IMF should update the analysis and advice it gives member countries as part of its mandated surveillance function.  In considering the review, the IMF Executive Board mandated IMF staff to incorporate a wider range of risks into its surveillance operations and craft its policy advice to address these risks on an ongoing basis. Climate change figured prominently in the discussions of new sources of risk—not only the direct impact of climate change on the global economy and individual countries, but also the macroeconomic and financial impacts of policies to mitigate climate change

Figure 1: At what date will average Brit's 2022 emissions surpass annual emissions of other countries?

A New Year’s Resolution on the UK’s Climate Hypocrisy

In 2022, discussions will continue about the role that development finance has in both reducing energy poverty in poorer countries, and tackling climate change. At COP26 there was lots of hand-wringing by rich countries about the extent to which aid (ODA) and other development finance should finance fossil fuels in poorer countries. On the one hand, it is obvious that poorer countries need to dramatically increase their energy use in order to attain a higher standard of living. On the other hand, with the climate emergency growing in urgency, some policy-makers argue that it is perverse to fund any fossil fuel projects abroad, especially when poorer countries will be hardest hit by climate change. Some proposed projects—such as a pipeline transporting gas from Uganda to Tanzania ports—have faced strident criticism.

Underpinning this discussion should be an acknowledgement that there is vast inequality in energy use, and CO2 emissions, between richer and poorer countries. Just a few days of life in the UK produces more emissions than people in many low-income countries produce in the entire year. The CO2 emissions of the average UK citizen are estimated to be roughly 40 times that of the average Ugandan. If these emissions are spread evenly throughout the year, this means that on Monday (10th January) the average Brit will already have emitted more CO2 than the average Ugandan will over the whole year.