Ideas to Action:

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Abstract image of connections across the globe.
November 30, 2020

Technology and Empathy in the COVID-19 Era

In a recent CGD note, “Empathy and Client Relationships in Development Finance,” we emphasised the importance of development finance institutions (DFIs) investing in face-to-face contact and dialogue with their clients to build the empathetic relationships needed to deliver development outcomes. But, in the era of COVID-19, did we overstate our case?

A chart showing revenue in five different countries
June 1, 2020

The COVID-19 Crisis and Fiscal Reform in Low-Income Countries

The global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on economic output and public finances in 2020 and beyond is projected to be massive. Fiscal policy can have a crucial role in mitigating the pandemic’s overall economic impact and promoting a quick recovery. It can help save lives and shield the most-affected segments of population.

Stock photo of Chinese currency
May 7, 2020

China’s Overseas Lending: A Response to Our Critics

Over the past two decades, China has become a major global lender, with outstanding debt claims from direct loans and trade advances alone exceeding 1.5 percent of world GDP. This surge in lending has financed many projects in infrastructure, mining, and energy. The problem is that there is little official data beyond those aggregate numbers, mainly because China has not released a breakdown of its lending activities.

An image of stacked money
May 6, 2020

Making the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights Work for COVID-19 Economic Relief

Many prominent people have advocated that the IMF undertake an “SDR allocation” to assist countries in dealing with the global financial crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. If IMF shareholders show some leadership and bureaucratic flexibility, there are ways to allay the American government’s concerns and quickly get liquidity in the hands of countries who desperately need it.

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.

The cover of the note
April 14, 2020

Eight Principles for the DFI Crisis Response

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.

Image of money and financial symbols
March 27, 2020

What to Do When You Can’t Prove DFI Additionality

“Additionality” is central to claims of impact by development finance institutions (DFIs). At its core is the notion that DFIs are necessary to solve a market failure by providing capital, risk mitigation, or some other benefit to a market that is not delivering these services strictly through private actors. But what exactly constitutes additionality, how do we know when it is real, and how can we measure it?

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?

Cover Image the sorting hat
February 6, 2020

The Subsidy Sorting Hat

In the Harry Potter novels, a magic hat decides which of four school houses new pupils should join. Development finance institutions (DFIs) need something like that when trying to decide which private firms to subsidise, although applicants only need sorting into two groups: firms that are doing something socially valuable and which genuinely require a subsidy, and firms that are merely trying their luck to get a subsidy for a project they would undertake in any case.

An aerial view of the Za'atri camp in Jordan for Syrian refugees on July 18, 2013. State Department photo/Public Domain.
June 28, 2018

Refugee Spending and the Macroeconomic Program in Jordan

Even with international assistance, the cost of providing refuge to so many people has strained the budget of the Jordanian government. At the same time, international partners, notably the IMF, have been insisting that Jordan take actions to bring down government debt to “more sustainable levels” through increasing fiscal discipline to tame government deficits. These dual imperatives by the international community—host more refugees and tame the budget—seem to put Jordan in an untenable situation as long as the refugee crisis continues. Something will have to give—the question is how, what, and when?

Cover: Unequal Ventures
April 30, 2018

Unequal Ventures: Results from a Baseline Study of Gender and Entrepreneurship in East Java, Indonesia

A study of women and men business owners in East Java offers a unique opportunity to analyze characteristics of entrepreneurs and their businesses by gender for a country where such systematic data are scarce. The study is one of two randomized controlled trials launched in 2015 to assess the power of mobile savings and training for women entrepreneurs. This report details baseline results from the Indonesia trial, still under way, which is testing whether providing financial literacy training for women who are potential bank clients and varying financial incentives to bank agents promoting a new mobile savings product make a difference in increasing  entrepreneurs’ uptake of formal savings and in improving economic outcomes. Short-term results of the other trial, in Tanzania, were reported in the first report in this series.

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