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.

 

Seven Ways the International Community Can Help Zimbabwe through Tough Times

Events are in tremendous flux in Zimbabwe after the non-coup committed by the military last week and the resignation of President Robert Mugabe on November 21. It’s not too early for the international community to start considering constructive steps to help the country get through the inevitable transition and back on a path to democracy and prosperity.

How the US and UK Can Help Ordinary Zimbabweans without Helping their Government

How can countries with a strong history and connection to that beleaguered country help its people while not entrenching its kleptocratic leadership? Between the “lend and hope” strategy and the “isolate and wait” approach, what could the international community do to prevent unnecessary suffering without aiding the oppressors? Here’s an agenda.

Is the World Bank Excusing Mugabe’s Human Rights Abuses? Read for Yourself.

The World Bank is supposed to work with poor countries in distress. When it all goes well, the Bank supports reformers with advice and money. Sometimes, however, the Bank prolongs a country’s pain by throwing a lifeline to recalcitrant regimes. The difference between a helping hand and a counterproductive crutch requires the Bank to understand the trends inside a country and how its own actions might affect those dynamics. Often, it’s difficult to discern these subtleties.

A New Tool for Squeezing the Regime in Cote d’Ivoire…and Preventing Odious Obligations

This is a joint post with Cindy Prieto.

As the Cote d’Ivoire standoff moves into Day Ten, pressure is mounting on Laurent Gbagbo who lost the election to Alassane Ouattara but refuses to stand down. The African Union and ECOWAS have suspended the country, and the United States and Europe have each threatened Gbagbo with financial sanctions, asset freezes, and travel bans unless he relents.

As cash becomes scarce and the junta more desperate, Gbagbo and his inner circle might try to quickly borrow money or start a fire sale. This would not only provide fuel for potential conflict, but also saddle the Ouattara government with new debts once they get in the seat. One additional way of squeezing Gbagbo and avoiding this outcome is contract sanctions, as proposed in the recent report of CGD’s Prevention of Odious Debt Working Group led by John Williamson, Michael Kremer, and Seema Jayachandran.

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.

Nigeria unloads Paris Club debt: What next?

On April 21 Nigeria made its final buyback payment to its bilateral creditors, completing the wipe-out of more than 80% of its debts. In the end, Nigeria paid $12 billion in cash -- out of the more than $34 billion saved so far from higher oil prices -- in order to buy back $30 billion in debt, an overall 60% discount.

Nigerian debt deal: Almost done, if not yet home free

The IMF announced today that it has completed its review of Nigeria’s policy support instrument (PSI). The Fund was laudatory, including a quote from first deputy MD Anne Krueger:

“Looking ahead, the authorities are committed to continue the ambitious macroeconomic and structural policies to entrench macroeconomic stability, strengthen public financial management, and reduce the costs of doing business further”

Pages