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?
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.
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.
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.
Unlike East Asia and Europe, Latin America lacks a shared integration strategy and continues to struggle with a burdensome investment climate. In this new CGD Note, visiting fellow Nancy Lee suggests a fresh approach to regional integration in the form of a proposed regional investment agreement. The idea is a collective effort to set common standards for reducing specific barriers to domestic and foreign investment. Beyond its benefits for growth, such an agreement could boost the incomes of the poor by helping small businesses trapped in the informal sector move into the more productive formal sector.