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.

 

A construction worker at an unfinished building in China. Curt Carnemark, World Bank photo.

With a Debt Crisis Looming, Researchers Who Estimated China’s “Hidden” Lending Respond to Their Critics

Last year, economists Sebastian Horn, Carmen Reinhart, and Christoph Trebesch put forward estimates of the Chinese government’s external (“overseas”) lending in a working paper. Their work was a landmark effort in a number of respects. Perhaps not surprisingly for a working paper, Horn et al. also attracted critics. In a new note for CGD, Horn et al. respond to this criticism.

A stock photo of a see-through piggy bank. Adobe Stock.

A Reckoning for China’s Opaque Overseas Lending

We are so accustomed to the Chinese government’s lack of transparency that the opaqueness of China’s overseas loans seems unremarkable at this point. But as we face what inevitably looks like a global debt crisis, one that is likely to hit low-income countries particularly hard, a clear accounting of the scale of the problem is critical. 

Chart showing falling US pledges to IDA and rising Chinese pledges to IDA

The US and China Have Very Different Takes on IDA and the Global Fund: Why that Matters for the Future of Multilateral Aid

When it comes to the United States, the reality is that the Global Fund is winning the fundraising game hands down. China, meanwhile, doubled its contribution to IDA—contrast that with the country’s longstanding indifference to the Global Fund. Clearly the world’s most important emerging donor views the multilateral architecture differently than the world’s most important traditional donor does.

Adobe Stock image of a pile of coins with a rising bar graph overlaid

HIPC with Chinese Characteristics: Why Yesterday’s Debt Relief Is the Wrong Point of Reference for Today’s Crises

Concerns about rising debt risks in developing economies were front and center at the annual meetings. HIPC is a useful reference point as we talk about a new round of debt crises. But thanks to the rise of China as a lender, the creditor community today looks much different from the HIPC creditor community—with implications for any resolution to a debt crisis.

The 'Declaration of Independence' by John Trumbull (1819)

Thomas Jefferson, the Original Debt Trap Diplomat

CGD research has become Exhibit A virtually every time the charge of “debt trap diplomacy” has been leveled against China in the media this past year. Yet, our research shows that many of China’s borrowers are managing their debts just fine and seem unlikely to fall into any traps.

road through forest

China’s “Green” Belt and Road Initiative Isn’t Very Green

What would it look like today if major multilateral finance institutions like the World Bank had never adopted the climate agenda as a binding constraint on their operations? Unfortunately, we have a real-world approximation of that hypothetical in the form of Chinese development finance. At least, that’s a conclusion I draw from an important new report from World Resources Institute (WRI) and Boston University, Moving the Green Belt and Road Initiative: From Words to Actions.

Pages