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.

 

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.

A column chart of external government debt for Sub-Saharan Africa by official, private, and Chinese creditors

2018 FOCAC: Africa in the New Reality of Reduced Chinese Lending

The 2018 FOCAC Summit will open tomorrow in Beijing. There is much speculation about the size of the investment package China will unveil at the summit. It appears, however, that we are in a new phase of Chinese financing. A combination of domestic and international pressures will likely alter China’s extensive lending program—African states that have relied on this lifeline must adjust to the new reality.

Another Debt Crisis for Poor Countries?

When the world’s finance ministers and central bank governors assemble in Washington later this month. they would do well to focus on another looming debt crisis that could hit some of the poorest countries in the world, many of whom are also struggling with problems of conflict and fragility and none of which has the institutional capacity to cope with a major debt crisis without lasting damage to their already-challenged development prospects.

The Importance of Domestic Resource Mobilization for Debt Sustainability

Even for countries that are far away from graduating from foreign aid, the importance of domestic resource mobilization for maintaining macroeconomic stability and sustained economic growth is well documented. A look at the experience of countries that have received HIPC debt relief validates this point and underlines the need for attaching a high priority to tax policies and practices in international assistance programs for low income countries.

Map of countries involved in China's Belt and Road Initiative coded by their risk of debt distress

Will China's Belt and Road Initiative Push Vulnerable Countries into a Debt Crisis?

In a new CGD paper, we assess the likelihood of debt problems in the 68 countries we identify as potential BRI borrowers. The big takeaway: BRI is unlikely to cause a systemic debt problem, yet the initiative will likely run into instances of debt problems among select participating countries—requiring better standards and improved debt practices from China.

Increasing External Debt and Electoral Cycles in Emerging Markets: How Do They Affect Prospects for Long-Term Growth?

Recently, the World Bank published its latest Global Economic Prospects report, which highlights a welcomed cyclical recovery for all major regions of the world following recent slow growth. I was pleased to participate in a panel discussion at CGD analyzing the report’s findings, and to share my perspectives both on its implications and on future global outlooks—­­especially for emerging market and developing economies.

Complying with or Circumventing Conditionality: Two Cases of IMF and Sub-Saharan Africa Country Partnership

The purpose of this presentation was to use two cases of IMF-supported program conditionality to animate a discussion of the bridge between first-best policy advice and on-the-ground development policy in country-specific political economy contexts. Having been involved as Minister of Finance in the Liberia case, and as Director of the Fund’s African Department in the Mozambique case, I approach the issue from both an outside- and an inside-the-IMF perspective.

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.

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