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The Bretton Woods Institutions, 75 years on: reform or risk irrelevance.

The Bretton Woods Institutions were built on the ruins of an old world-order, at the end of World War II, and the dawn of a new world order, marked by the birth of many new nation-states and the onset of the cold-war. Ostensibly, the Institutions were created to preserve the peace by ensuring macroeconomic stability, supporting development and discouraging the creation of hostile trade or currency blocs. Yet, right from their beginnings, they have been the source of critique and concern. There were concerns about asymmetries of power, particularly in favour of the US. Then came concerns about uneven-handed treatment of countries in very similar circumstances. On the one hand, post-war Europe could quickly recover thanks to the US stepping in and instituting the Marshall fund. On the other, ...
The 2019 World Bank (WB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Annual meetings last week marked the 75th anniversary of the Bretton Woods Institutions (BWIs). However, there was little cause for celebration. The meetings took place amid a bleak global ...

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A Global Green New Deal – new UNCTAD report outlines a financing plan

Bodo Ellmers, Maria Romero

10 Oct 2019 11:21:59

The debate about a Green New Deal has recently been reinvigorated in both sides of the Atlantic. In Europe, the Green New Deal is part of the priorities of the European Commission’s President-elect Ursula von der Leyen. And at the UN in New York last month, sustainable development was featured in a series of global Summits, including the Climate Action Summit. In response, UNCTAD used the momentum to  launch the 2019 edition of the Trade and Development Report (TDR) which analyses the new deal from a financing perspective, identifies constraints and outlines innovative financing options.  Urgent need for more and better development finance  The new report comes at a time when neither the implementation of the 2030 Development Agenda nor the Paris Climate Agreement is on track. ...

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Business, business and business - is this the new mantra for EU development cooperation?

Maria Romero

22 Jul 2019 10:19:18

By María José Romero and Isabelle Brachet (ActionAid International) As the promised leveraging effects of blended finance fail to materialise, the European Union is increasingly focussing on the policy environment in partner countries, based on an assumption that the problem must lie there.  This approach is present in the design of the External Investment Plan, an initiative that allocates aid money to encourage businesses to invest in Africa as well as the EU’s neighbouring countries. The plan, based on three interconnected pillars — finance, technical assistance and policy dialogue — is expected to continue as part of the implementation of the next EU budget (2021-2027), which is currently under negotiation. However, the recently released “Handbook on improving investment ...
Over the last few decades, the European financial architecture for development has changed significantly. Development finance is currently a central piece in the EU's development policy toolbox but with scarce resources available, a serious assessment ...

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G20 – a chance for solutions, or a part of the problem?

As G20 leaders meet this weekend to debate the state of the global financial and economic system, there is no shortage of problems to discuss. For example, the world is facing a new wave of debt crises; continued large-scale corporate tax avoidance; and a desperate lack of funding for achieving the sustainable development goals, including for ensuring basic infrastructure for public services and combating climate change. The failure of the global system is also exacerbating existing inequalities, including gender inequality.  But the G20 is by no means a young and new initiative and while assessing the challenges ahead, it is also important to look back and discuss whether the global problems we are facing have arisen in spite of the G20 leadership, or – at least to some extent – because ...

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The IMF and PPPs: A master class in double-speak

Maria Romero, Gino Brunswijck

08 Apr 2019 15:21:37

While the IMF cautions against the fiscal risks of public-private partnerships (PPPs), the institution is simultaneously backing them at a country programme level and advocates austerity measures that push governments towards expanding PPPs through constrained budgets. The fiscal risks of PPPsAs far back as 2004, the IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department (FAD) published a paper stressing that “one particular concern is that PPPs can be used mainly to bypass spending controls, and to move public investment off budget and debt off the government balance sheet, while the government still bears most of the risk involved and faces potentially large fiscal costs.”Concerns over the fiscal risks of PPPs have also underpinned the work of the IMF to quantify the macro-fiscal impact of PPP projects. ...