Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

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November 18, 2021

Mapping China’s Multilateralism: A Data Survey of China’s Participation in Multilateral Development Institutions and Funds

A considerable body of recent research attempts to shed light on China’s bilateral aid and finance flows, but there have been fewer efforts focused on China’s participation in multilateral development channels. As a result, China’s role across the landscape of multilateral institutions and funds is poorly understood, even as China has emerged as a leading donor within many of these entities.

An image of the World Bank in Washington DC
November 15, 2021

What Next for IDA?

IDA, the World Bank’s concessional fund, was set up 1960 to provide affordable finance to countries with the smallest economies, lowest per capita incomes and lowest creditworthiness. The goal was to help those countries to grow faster and more equally and thereby sustainably to reduce poverty. IDA can fairly claim to have made a significant contribution to global poverty reduction over recent decades. But it is now underperforming in the countries with the biggest challenges. If it wants to retain its preferred status as a beneficiary of donor resources in the future, it needs a better offer to the neediest countries.

An image of the working paper.
September 29, 2021

Whatever Happened to Privatization? The World Bank and Divestiture: 1980–2020

This paper describes the rise and fall of privatization in the World Bank as a means to improve the performance of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in its client countries. While acknowledging that privatization was far more difficult than anticipated to implement correctly, particularly in low-income and institutionally weak countries, the continuing difficulty of applying technical fixes to still large, still underperforming, and still capital-short SOE sectors justifies a renewed attempt at privatization

John Nellis
A pile of international currency laid out in a photograph
June 30, 2021

IFC 3.1?

IFC’s board and leadership understand that meeting these goals requires a change in the way that the corporation operates, and a number of recent reforms will help it to deliver. But while these reforms are a welcome start, the IFC will have to change further if it is to meet its targets and reach its development potential. This paper discusses the rationale and elements of that change agenda, focused on ensuring the IFC best serves its ultimate clients.

An image of three young black women wearing masks.
June 1, 2021

Promoting an Inclusive Recovery by Prioritizing Gender: A “Care, Cash, and Data” Agenda for the IDA20 Replenishment

The World Bank estimates that the global pandemic could push between 55 and 63 million people into extreme poverty in IDA (the International Development Association) countries. With IDA being the largest source of concessional loans and grants for the world’s poorest countries, its upcoming replenishment cycle (IDA20) is a key opportunity to promote a more inclusive recovery—and, in particular, one that reaches and benefits women and girls disproportionately hurt by the COVID-19 crisis.

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 the World Bank Group Building
April 1, 2021

IDA-20: Donors Must Go Big, and IDA Must Too

The time is now for a historic IDA replenishment. The world’s poorest countries’ recovery from the COVID-19 economic downturn will largely hinge on the scale of the emergency relief and investment programs over the next few years.

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 Policy Paper 206
March 15, 2021

Mobilizing External Financing for Africa’s Crisis Recovery

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a significant toll on African economies. On the continent, countries continue to face significant financing needs to protect lives and livelihood and bolster prospects for a stronger and more resilient economic recovery. To help meet these needs, the international community must act promptly.

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.

Cover of the revised working paper 527
March 30, 2020

SDG1: The Last Three Percent

There is a little-noticed but important difference between the World Bank’s original goal for poverty reduction and the subsequent UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG). While both target the “$1.90 a day” poverty rate, the Bank’s goal was a 3% rate by 2030, while the SDG is to “eradicate” poverty by 2030.

Cover image of IFC Capital Increase Note
March 4, 2020

Why Congress Should Authorize the IFC Capital Increase

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?

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.

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