Ideas to Action:

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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.


A Development Perspective on China’s Currency—And a Fresh WTO Solution

My colleage Arvind Subramanian published an intriguing Op-Ed in the Financial Times this week. In “The Weak Renminbi is Not Just America’s Problem” Arvind notes that the undervalued Chinese currency is a global problem that requires a multilateral response. He then argues persuasively that neither the United States nor the IMF can be expected to persuade China to revalue its currency. Instead, he says, such action should come from the WTO.

A Green Fund: From the IMF, George Soros, and the Government of Mexico

On January 30 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the Managing Director of the IMF, announced a possible new initiative – a multi-billion dollar Green Fund (that name is popular – see below) that would help developing countries finance the measures needed to tackle climate change – possibly with partial funding through issuance by the IMF of new Special Drawing Rights (SDRs).

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.

The IMF beyond Istanbul

This post originally appeared in the Business Standard.

Wanted: An Asian Managing Director and new approaches to capital flows.

The IMF will strike a triumphalist tone at its forthcoming annual meetings in Istanbul. Some of this will be warranted because the IMF’s record in responding to the global financial crisis was commendable, even if its record leading up to it was less stellar (see for more details).

Selling Some IMF Gold: A Good Idea Finally Happening

In 2002, John Williamson and I proposed that the gold at the IMF be used to deal with global public good (bad) of unsustainable debt of poor countries – and in particular to allow the IMF to finance suspension of debt service to the IMF and the multilateral development banks following an external shock.