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The Hottest Guest List in Town: Dinner at the White House for Visiting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

This is a joint post with Nandini Oomman.

The White House State Dinner for visiting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tonight is perhaps the biggest social event of the year in the nation's capital. The names of the 400 lucky people who have made it on to the guest list are yet to be released—the list has generated as much buzz as the event itself, both in Washington, DC and in India.

Cash for Poor Countries, or Another Round of Subprime Lending?

This is a joint post with Benjamin Leo.

A special new lending facility was announced in July 2009 with the objective of providing up to $17 billion in new loans through 2014 and, to entice cash-strapped borrowers, the lender is waiving interest payments for the first two years. This may sound like dangerous new short-term teaser offers for sub-prime borrowers. But this isn’t coming from Countrywide Financial. It actually is a new IMF facility for low-income countries, including some of heavily indebted poor countries (HIPCs) who are just barely coming out of the last debt crisis.

The stated objectives of the new IMF facility are laudable: to offset the effects of the global economic crisis by boosting international reserves and supporting adjustment policies. And yes, the overall terms are more concessional than past IMF loans. Nonetheless, the net impact on national debt levels may be significant. And it was just four years ago that the IMF committed to cancel roughly $6 billion in bad loans to many of these very same countries.