Growing Business or Development Priority? Multilateral Development Banks’ Direct Support to Private Firms (brief)

April 11, 2011

Direct support to private firms in developing countries constitutes a large and growing share of multilateral development banks’ financial activities. This trend contrasts with the advice MDBs gave developing countries until a decade ago to privatize or liquidate the development banks supporting private firms, or to transform them into nonbanking development agencies. Opinion has changed since then, especially after development banks successfully intervened in the recent financial crisis.

In this brief, based on the full report of the same title, Guillermo Perry assesses whether arguments in favor of such MDB direct support are valid and whether MDBs are living up to priorities coherent with such arguments. He finds that they do so only partially. His recommendations include deepening MDB support to small and medium enterprises, reducing the procyclicality of MDB lending, increasing the share of MDB loans and guarantees to private firms that are made in domestic currencies, and paying more attention to firms in infrastructure and social sectors and to those introducing new products, exports, or technologies.


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