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Last week, the IMF revised the post-COVID growth forecasts it had made originally in the April World Economic Outlook (WEO). The April growth forecasts numbers projected a significantly more optimistic outlook for EMDEs compared with advanced economies. It turns out that the latest June forecast maintains this relative optimism for EMDEs.
A simple way to guarantee an adequate flow of long-run, sustained funding for health surveillance and disease control, and to prepare for the next novel virus in the world’s poor countries, is to create an endowment dedicated to that purpose. A $10 billion endowment could generate income of $500 million a year.
Last week Senator Bernie Sanders and Congresswoman Ilhan Omar sent a letter signed by hundreds of lawmakers from 40 countries to the heads of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, urging them to greatly increase the access of developing countries to financial assistance. They called for a new issue of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) at the IMF, echoing the earlier plea of Gordon Brown and Larry Summers for at least $1 trillion in new SDRs.
The COVID-19 pandemic is taking a huge economic toll in low-income countries. The IMF has provided prompt support to help mitigate it, but it could and should do much more. The political commitment of the international community will be essential for the institution to fulfill its potential.
As the coronavirus spreads across the globe and claims an increasing number of victims, calls have been made for the international community to raise and disburse huge sums of money to protect poorer countries, whose poverty and weak health systems make them especially vulnerable.
While the world’s decision makers are now rightly focusing on the COVID-19 crisis and its potentially devastating economic aftermath, the climate change agenda has been moved from the center stage. As the world begins to rethink what the post COVID-19 economic order will look like, climate change will again play a key role. And so will the IMF.
It is now only a question of when, not if, the COVID-19 pandemic will exact its human and economic toll on the poor and developing countries of South Asia, Africa, and Latin America the way it is already ravaging East Asia, Europe, and North America. And when it does, they too will need to respond with exceptional heath and financial measures in the face of this unprecedented global challenge.
Debt relief for low-income countries is on the table of measures to consider for coronavirus response. The imperative right now is to get cash to LICs as quickly as possible. Suspending some debt service payments may be a good first step in freeing up some budget space for new spending. Beyond that, protracted debt-relief negotiations with multilateral and commercial creditors right now could be a distraction at best but could also actively undermine the ability of institutions like the World Bank to offer new financing for crisis response.
Spring has finally sprung in Washington, DC! And that also means a series of substantive discussions on today's most pressing global development issues—from private sector financing in Africa to the future of the World Bank—are springing up at the Center for Global Development. Join us next week in person or online for these important conversations that will happen alongside the World Bank and IMF Spring Meetings.