The world is now more than a year into the second global crisis of the century. This time, the IMF has stepped up. But what about the multilateral development banks? One of their central roles is to expand the fiscal space of middle- and low-income countries (MICs and LICs) for development spending, exactly what is needed now, and to catalyze finance from the private sector, especially when private finance pulls back. Have they done so? As the 2020 data on MDB finance become available, what can we conclude about how MDBs are performing when the developing world needs them most?
The need for collaboration and cooperation across the multilateral development banks (MDBs) seems obvious. Donor governments set up these institutions to multiply their development dollars, to concentrate global development expertise, and to spread knowledge and evidence of effective development policies and practices around the globe.
This paper reviews data on private development finance flows in poor countries, identifies the lessons and questions that should shape future efforts to mobilize more finance, and develops proposals to strengthen performance.
By surveying DFIs, we aim to start building a baseline of their gender policies and practices, analyze the data, and make recommendations where stronger policies and practices are needed. The survey’s findings give DFIs an important opportunity to learn from one another and work towards standards for how they can best promote gender equity.
Two out of five low-income countries were in the grips of, or moving rapidly toward, unsustainable debt levels before the global pandemic. But the economic, financial, and fiscal effects of the pandemic have brought the day of reckoning for many countries much closer. The global financial community is likely entering another period of messy, prolonged, costly, and contentious debt defaults and restructurings. It does so with no more—and in some ways less—consensus on the principles that should govern collective action by public and private creditors, debtor governments, and the IFIs.
DFIs are not central banks. They do not drive monetary policy stances and overall lending conditions in their countries of operations. Rather, during economic and other shocks, they must find ways to restart or boost financial intermediation for direct and systemic impact on target populations, sectors, and countries. But they must do so with an eye on their own balance sheets.
In May 2018, the shareholders of the International Finance Corporation (IFC)—the private sector arm of the World Bank—agreed to increase its paid-in capital by $5.5 billion as part of the $13 billion capital increase for the World Bank Group (WBG). The US administration agreed to the increase but declined to contribute to the additional capital. But for the increase to take effect, Congress must authorize it. Thus far, it has not done so. Why?
When the world adopted the SDGs, policymakers knew that aid alone would never meet the financing needs. They embraced the “billions to trillions” vision, believing that an abundance of commercially viable SDG-related investments was ready and waiting for trillions in profitable private investment—if only development finance institutions (DFIs) and others could clear away the obstacles that stand between the investments and private investors. Reality looks different. To fill the gaps in the financial architecture, Nancy Lee and Dan Preston propose the Stretch Fund.
Interest in mobilizing private finance for SDG investments is surging in a world of stagnating aid, limited fiscal space, and rising LIC debt. But is more reliance on private finance realistic for LICs? This paper explores the performance since the global financial crisis of one source of private finance for LICs: cross-border private capital inflows.
Domestic Resource Mobilization in Low-Income Countries: Proposal for a Surge in Multilateral Support
Rising debt vulnerability in low-income countries (LICs) is emerging as a front-burner issue. Analysts at the IMF and elsewhere are tracking increases in public debt ratios that had fallen after the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative. Forty percent of LICs are either in, or at high risk of, debt distress. Many factors have contributed to rising debt-to-GDP ratios: falling commodity prices, deteriorating fiscal balances, conflict, and corruption, among others. The larger fiscal deficits are fully or partially accounted for by increased public investment in about half of LICs. Which brings us to the challenge of financing the SDGs.
MDB private sector operations or windows (PSWs) are essential actors in mobilizing private finance for development, but their mobilization track record to date falls far short of a meaningful contribution to annual SDG financing gaps in the trillions
The purpose of this note is to provide a realistic analysis of where MDBs have made progress in improving performance and governance, the risks and challenges they and their shareholders confront today, possible areas of US-China collaboration, and a specific recommendation for a joint effort.
It is time to take a fresh look at the PSWs and to ask some basic questions about their role and instruments. The aim of this essay is to raise issues that need to be addressed as we think about how PSWs should evolve and adapt to meet the formidable challenges ahead. These questions and the answers gained through careful research can help chart the right course and set the right expectations for MDB PSWs, DFIs, and impact investors generally.
On April 11, the World Bank's International Development Association broke new ground by establishing a private sector window (PSW) with $2.5 billion in resources. For the first time, IDA will use public funds to catalyze private investments in poor countries, in addition to concessional lending to their governments.
The global financial crisis and economic slowdown are subjecting poor countries to increased financial, price, and output volatility. How can the multilateral development banks help? A new CGD brief by visiting fellow Nancy Lee, non-resident fellow Guillermo Perry, and CGD president Nancy Birdsall makes the case for a broad range of new and expanded activities to help developing countries manage risk.
READ THE BRIEF
More Growth with More Income Equality in the Americas: Can Regional Cooperation Help? (White House and the World Policy Brief)
The next U.S. president has a great opportunity to lead regional economic integration in the Americas, to the benefit of both the United States and Latin America. For the Americas, the high hopes of a decade ago for a hemispheric trade agreement have faded, along with confidence in the region’s ability to act collectively to address fundamental economic challenges. The model for integration outlined here is a regional investment standards agreement—a collective effort to set common standards for key microeconomic policies affecting both domestic and foreign businesses.
The White House and the World: A Global Development Agenda for the Next U.S. President shows how modest changes in U.S. policies could greatly improve the lives of poor people in developing countries, thus fostering greater stability, security, and prosperity globally and at home. Center for Global Development experts offer fresh perspectives and practical advice on trade policy, migration, foreign aid, climate change and more. In an introductory essay, CGD President Nancy Birdsall explains why and how the next U.S. president must lead in the creation of a better, safer world.
In this CGD Essay, visiting fellow Nancy Lee provides the full details and policy recommendations for a strategy of regional investment integration in the Americas. The essay, excerpted from her chapter in the forthcoming White House and the World: A Global Development Agenda for the Next U.S. President, builds on a previously published CGD Note by specifying the scope of the proposed agreement, outlining its expected gains, and identifying the initial steps the United States could take to encourage a fresh agreement to be reached.