Ideas to Action:

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An image of the London skyline
October 12, 2021

Accounting Anomalies and Arbitrary Targets are Conspiring to Hurt the Poor: SDRs, the UK Aid Ceiling, and Fiscal Trickery

The phrase “giving with one hand while taking with the other” has rarely been more appropriate than in examining the UK’s recent approach to the aid budget. Under current plans, by increasing its contributions to the IMF’s concessional lending pot, the UK will actually reduce the amount of aid available to developing countries and receive credit for doing so. The result is that every £1 billion that the UK lends to the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust Fund (PRGT)—the IMF’s concessional lending facility—would lead to a net loss for developing countries of up to £310 million.

Cover of the transition brief on debt
December 3, 2020

A Plan to Address the COVID-19 Debt Crises in Poor Countries and Build a Better Sovereign Debt System

Swift and orderly action on international debt is a moral, political, economic, and security imperative for the United States. A series of disorderly and protracted debt crises would be catastrophic for the world’s poorest countries. A Biden administration can raise the G20’s ambition level to avert a global debt crisis and strive to forge a consensus around a COVID-19 debt framework.

Cover of policy paper 194
November 30, 2020

Accelerating Progress of Low-Income Countries Towards the SDGs: Balancing Realism and Ambition in a Post-COVID-19 World

The world is in the throes of a health, economic, and social crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Slower global growth has significantly worsened the economic prospects for all countries, including the poorest ones. Low-income countries (LICs) are also finding it more difficult to service their external debt as well as to access private capital—concessional and non-concessional

A shot of the front of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Adobe Stock
November 18, 2020

Bargaining with Beijing: A Tale of Two Borrowers

We examine the behavior of Chinese government lenders in two debt rescheduling episodes: a “low stakes” case involving Seychelles and a “high stakes” case involving the Republic of Congo. The fact that the Republic of Congo was worse off after rescheduling its debts with Beijing underscores the importance of exposing these deals to public scrutiny before they are finalized and building borrower country capacity to negotiate more favorable deals.

An image of the cover of a paper on DAC debt rules
October 7, 2020

New DAC Rules on Debt Relief – A Poor Measure of Donor Effort

The Development Assistance Committee (DAC) recently produced a long-awaited set of rules for how debt relief on loans should be scored as Official Development Assistance (ODA). Unfortunately, the rules suffer from a number of statistical problems and the DAC needs to take these rules back to the drawing board, or lose credibility.

A piggy bank under water. Adobe Stock.
August 5, 2020

Restructuring Sovereign Debt to Private Creditors in Poor Countries: What’s Broken?

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.

Image of the globe as a piggy bank
April 17, 2020

Addressing Debt Vulnerabilities

Around the turn of the century, there was a broad recognition that the debt burden of many developing countries was impeding their growth. Much of the debt had accumulated in the context of the Cold War and had not resulted in productive investment.

pp73
February 3, 2016

Alternatives to HIPC for African Debt-Distressed Countries: Lessons from Myanmar, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe

Despite the success of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) in reducing the debt burdens of low-income countries, at least eleven Sub-Saharan African countries are currently in, or face a high risk of, debt distress. A few of those currently at risk include countries that have been excluded from traditional debt relief frameworks. For countries outside the HIPC process, this paper lays out the (formidable) steps for retroactive HIPC inclusion, concluding with lessons for countries seeking exceptional debt relief treatment.

March 9, 2012

A New Tool for Syria: Pressuring Assad with Preemptive Contract Sanctions

The Syrian regime of Bashar Assad has killed thousands of people since protests began last year. The Arab League, United States and European Union have condemned the violence and imposed strong sanctions against Syria’s oil sector and central bank, but they have not adequately hindered the regime. It’s time to try a new tool that would strengthen existing sanctions: preemptive contract sanctions.

October 26, 2010

The Arc of the Jubilee

The Jubilee 2000 movement, which called for the cancellation of the foreign debts of the poorest nations, became one of the most successful international, nongovernmental movements in history. David Roodman provides thumbnail assessments of Jubilee 2000 from several perspectives, deemphasizing anecdotes and statistics in favor of major themes.

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