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Money has been flowing out of developing countries for over a decade: UN report

Jesse Griffiths

09 Feb 2017 11:26:34

Here is the dramatic graph from the United Nation’s annual stocktake of the world economy – the World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) report. After crunching all the numbers, the UN’s top finance experts calculate that, in net terms (finance inflows minus finance outflows), developing countries as a whole have been exporting money to the developed world at least since 2004. Of course, as the graph above shows, there are variations among countries, and regions – notably East and South East Asia, but this is a pretty dramatic conclusion – though not out of line with Eurodad’s own number crunching a couple of years ago.  How do they make this calculation? The first important point is that they are only counting what they call ‘financial flows’, which excludes ODA ...

Three principles for aid and the private sector

Jesse Griffiths

17 Oct 2016 16:32:59

Originally published by Public Finance International Using aid to mobilise trillions in private money is a hot and hugely controversial topic. Such aid is no different from any other kind: it can be well spent or badly spent and should meet basic effectiveness principles Donor governments are currently revising rules on Official Development Assistance (ODA or ‘aid’) so that the opportunities for using aid to leverage – or more accurately, subsidise – private companies and private investment could explode. This is, of course, hugely controversial, and Eurodad has warned that more care, thought and time should be devoted to such rule changes, involve recipients and stakeholders and be preceded by a firm commitment from donors not to tie aid to the use of their own firms. When we talk ...

International public finance flows: 8 principles for transparent reporting

Jesse Griffiths

08 Sep 2016 14:19:02

How much public money does your country send to other countries, and for what purposes? The short answer is: we don’t know. The only reliable figures are those for the aid provided to help developing countries, collected by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and called official development assistance. Unfortunately, even these figures are confusing, as they include large amounts of money that never leave the donor country, such as administrative costs and and the costs of accommodating refugees. A better place to look than the headline-grabbing ODA figures is a less well-known measure, called country programmable aid which the OECD says is “a better estimate of the volume of [ODA] resources transferred to developing countries.” But what about other official flows ...

World Investment Report: Is private investment in developing countries increasing or falling?

Jesse Griffiths

30 Jun 2016 12:53:28

The always interesting World Investment Report, 2016 edition, came out last week, highlighting an increase in foreign direct investment (FDI) which is seemingly contrary to other reports of an outward flood of private finance, and highlighting the continued rise of international investment treaties, and resulting cases brought by companies against developing countries.  Did FDI rise or fall in 2015? As I’ve pointed out before, interpreting FDI figures takes a lot of care, as not all of it is foreign, and not all is investment, and the routing of investment through tax havens over-inflates and distorts the figures. However, in broad terms, UNCTAD (the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) that produce the World Investment Report (WIR) argues that $765 billion FDI flowed ...

Why won’t the Bretton Woods institutions take crisis risks seriously?

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank spring meetings have faded in significance since the G20 became the main forum for discussion between major economic powers. As happened last year, little was agreed when the governors of the two Bretton Woods Institutions met in Washington last week.  The gloomy context of a faltering world economy was at the forefront of the communiqué issued by the International Monetary and Financial Committee ( IMFC) – a group of finance ministers and central bankers from the 24 countries and constituencies that have seats on the IMF’s executive board (these are mostly high-income countries). They note a wide range of problems, including that “financial market volatility and risk aversion have risen” and that “lower commodity prices have ...
China has taken the helm of the G20, hosting the first meeting of G20 Finance Ministers last week, while global storm clouds are brewing. The Ministers’ short communiqué underwhelmed many observers, despite a shift towards recognising that greater ...
Ministers and senior officials of developed countries agreed major changes today to what can be counted as Official Development Assistance (ODA, or ‘aid’), opening the door for greater use of aid to subsidise private companies. A push by some states ...

Private finance floods out of developing countries on a massive scale in 2015

Jesse Griffiths

28 Jan 2016 14:19:18

If you’ve never read the UN’s World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP report) before, put a note in your calendar to do so. It’s always interesting, and consistently one of the most useful annual publications of any major international organisation.  I’m wading through my copy, but wanted to share some startling figures from this year’s edition, released last week. The headline is that 2015 saw an enormous outflow of private financial resources from developing countries. The chart below doesn’t include all sources of finance, (which would include aid, remittances and so on) – it’s just looking at ‘financial flows’ by which it means (largely) private investment flows, and the buying and selling of financial instruments by governments to build, or reduce, reserves.  ...

Controlling capital: ending inequality means routing the march to unrestrained movement of finance

Jesse Griffiths

14 Jan 2016 14:11:12

This article was originally published on ActionAid's website. There is a date that marks the rise of global inequality. The rich have always held their grip on the levers of power, but the transformation of our economies, institutions and societies to align with the interest of small group of the ultra-wealthy started on 15 August 1971. This is a symbolic date, of course, but an important one. It marks the ‘Nixon shock’ – the day the US President unilaterally announced that dollars were no longer convertible into gold, effectively ending the Bretton Woods system of international monetary cooperation that had helped ensure the longest and most equitable sustained period of global growth in human history. The breakdown of global cooperation that followed opened up space for neoliberal ideas ...