Debt can bring about disaster, as in Greece or with your deadbeat son; but it can also be a the engine of growth and prosperity.
The British proposal to create an International Finance Facility in order to 'frontload' $50 billion in aid per year until 2015 has generated a lot of attention and will likely be a major topic at the G8 meeting this July. But the IFF has also been shrouded in confusion and misconceptions. This paper explains the IFF proposal and highlights some of the common misunderstandings surrounding it, including the mechanics of the scheme itself, the potential for a U.S. role, and the expectations of aid which underlie the IFF’s premise. The UK deserves plaudits for elevating global poverty on the international agenda and for seeking ways to better harness the power of private capital markets for development. But the IFF, as currently conceived, is an idea that merits more scrutiny and a healthy dose of skepticism.
This new CGD Note by Center for Global Development President Nancy Birdsall and Institute for International Economics Senior Fellow John Williamson argues that sale of a portion of IMF gold makes sense as a way to create a more transparent institution and use a global resource for debt relief for the world’s poorest countries.
Nigeria has $33 billion in external debt. The government has been trying unsuccessfully for years to cut a deal with creditors to reduce its external obligations but to date has only managed to gain non-concessional restructuring. The major creditors also have good reasons for wanting to seek a resolution, yet agreement has been elusive. Fortunately, there is a brief window of opportunity in 2005 to find a compromise that can meet the needs of both sides. This note briefly outlines a proposal for striking such a deal through a discounted debt buyback.
Traditional economic theory predicts that capital mobility and international trade will push the world's national economies to one income level. As poorer nations race ahead, richer ones should slow down. Eventually, theory says, national economies would reach equilibrium. The reality of the last few decades, however, defies this notion; most of the poorest economies continue to lag far behind. For 50 years, foreign aid has been the main way the international community has promoted economic development. Yet it has not proven to be a silver bullet.
We assess the dynamic behind the high net resource transfers of donors and creditors, IDA, bilaterals, IBRD, IMF and other multilateral creditors to the countries of sub-Saharan Africa in the 1980s and 1990s. Analyzing a panel of 37 recipient countries over the years 1978-98, we find that net transfers were greater in poorer and smaller countries. The quality of countries' policy framework mattered little, however, in determining overall net transfers.
Over the last several years, the United States and other major donor countries have supported a historic initiative to write down the official debts of a group of heavily indebted poor countries, or HIPCs. Donor countries had two primary goals in supporting debt relief: to reduce countries' debt burdens to levels that would allow them to achieve sustainable growth; and to promote a new way of assisting poor countries focused on home-grown poverty alleviation and human development. While the current "enhanced HIPC" program of debt relief is more ambitious than any previous initiative, it will fall short of meeting these goals. We propose expanding the HIPC program to include all low-income countries and increasing the resources dedicated to debt relief. Because debt relief will still only be a first step, we also recommend reforms of the current "aid architecture" that will make debt more predictably sustainable, make aid more efficient, and help recipient countries graduate from aid dependence.