Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

Publications

 
An image of the World Bank Building
April 5, 2021

Tracking the Scale and Speed of the World Bank’s COVID Response: April 2021 Update

Last year at this time, the World Bank announced its intention to provide $104 billion in financing to developing country governments to help them respond to the COVID-19 crisis. We took stock of those efforts seven months ago. More than a year into the pandemic, it’s time to check in again on the Bank’s crisis financing. We revisit four basic questions about the Bank’s lending performance since it originally announced its COVID response.

An image of solar panels and wind mills with a city skyline in the background.
March 16, 2021

A Climate-Dedicated Capital Increase at the World Bank and IFC

With a new US administration rejoining the Paris Agreement and the upcoming Glasgow climate conference set to endorse a new set of national commitments to greenhouse gas emissions, there is renewed momentum in the struggle to limit climate change and its global impact. But global finance to support mitigation and adaptation in developing countries is still inadequate and misdirected. A climate-dedicated capital increase at the World Bank Group would be a comparatively low-cost way to considerably improve the volume and quality of climate finance.

Cover of Working Paper 554
October 12, 2020

Is the World Bank’s COVID Crisis Lending Big Enough, Fast Enough? New Evidence on Loan Disbursements

We compile a new data set, combining official sources with transaction-level records scraped from the World Bank website, spanning all commitments, disbursements, and payments on all World Bank loans from before the 2008-09 Global Financial Crisis through August 2020, allowing us to compare the Bank’s COVID response to the last comparable global crisis. We find that lending has indeed accelerated in 2020, but the Bank appears to be on track to fulfill only half of its own target of $160 billion in new lending by June 2021.

The first page of the brief
October 11, 2019

ABCs of the IFIs: The World Bank

The World Bank is a multilateral organization that provides financial and technical assistance to developing countries. As the World Bank’s largest shareholder, the United States maintains a unique influence in shaping its agenda and has a vested interest in ensuring the institution is well managed and appropriately resourced. The US Congress has an important role both in funding US contributions to the World Bank and in overseeing US participation in the institution. Past congressional decisions tied to US funding have led to changes in World Bank policies and institutional reforms.

Stock photo of test tubes and a pipette
August 8, 2019

Promoting Investment in Research for Development Outcomes: A Research Ventures Fund at the World Bank

This note proposes a new Research Ventures Fund (RVF) at the World Bank to better prioritize R&D investments in support of development progress. The RVF would employ financing mechanisms that are consistent with research needs: significant scale and scope, patience, and tolerance for failure. Existing development-oriented research consortia like CGIAR would provide a promising start for RVF funding allocations. Donors to the IDA-19 replenishment should take the first step in securing funding for the new fund in 2019.

March 22, 2017

Examining Results and Accountability at the World Bank

Scott Morris testified before the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Monetary Policy and Trade at a hearing titled, “Examining Results and Accountability at the World Bank” on March 22, 2017. Morris’s testimony offered recommendations for Congress in effective oversight and influence at the World Bank, as well as discussing what US contributions to the institution deliver for US taxpayers.

July 20, 2015

Realizing the Power of Multilateralism in US Development Policy

US leadership in multilateral institutions such as the World Bank and regional development banks is flagging. These institutions, rated as some of the most effective development actors globally, provide clear advantages to the United States in terms of geostrategic interests, cost-effectiveness, and results on the ground. Restoring US leadership in institutions like the World Bank will mean giving a greater priority to MDB funding, which today accounts for less than 10 percent of the total US foreign assistance budget and less than 0.1 percent of the total federal budget. Prioritizing multilateral assistance in an era of flat or declining foreign assistance budgets will necessarily mean some reallocation from other pots of foreign assistance money, as well as an effort to address the structural impediments to considering reallocations.

CGD Policy Paper 58 - The World Bank at 75
March 31, 2015

The World Bank at 75

This paper examines courses of action that could help the bank could adapt to shifting development priorities. It investigates how country eligibility standards might evolve and how the bank might start to break away from its traditional “loans to countries” model.

January 7, 2014

Shaking Up the Donor Shakedown at the World Bank

The World Bank should declare the IDA-17 replenishment its last and move to replace it with a broader bank resource review. Sticking with the status quo risks an underfunded institution and one that is increasingly isolated from its shareholders (yes, that would be a bad thing).

July 12, 2013

Thinking Through When the World Bank Should Fund Coal Projects

The World Bank should be ambitious in working toward clean energy approaches in its development strategies, but it would be a mistake to definitively rule out coal in all circumstances. Such a decision would be bad for development and would also undermine the very goals that the bank’s coal critics espouse by further pitting developing and developed countries against each other in the climate debate occurring within the bank. The key challenges are to identify the relevant development needs related to coal-fired generation, to define the role of the bank, and to elaborate guidelines to direct decisions. In this essay, we discuss the broad issues and then summarize what the guidelines likely would mean in practice.