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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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EU leadership needs to embed human rights into economic policy-making

Mark Perera

04 Apr 2019 10:20:46

In a valuable step forward to support human rights compliant economic policy-making, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) called on 21 March for governments and intergovernmental organisations to make use of new UN guidance when developing economic reforms. EU states on the HRC boldly exercised their votes to oppose these calls, in a move that stands in direct contrast to EU commitments from only two years ago to adopt a rights-based approach to development, and support countries in building resilience to prepare for and respond to economic shocks without compromising long-term development prospects. New UN guiding principles add to the debt management toolbox The HRC resolution on the effects of foreign debt on the enjoyment of human rights highlights new UN Guiding Principles on human rights ...

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An economy that serves the people: new UN guidance to anchor policy-making to human rights

Mark Perera

28 Feb 2019 15:24:54

This week the UN Human Rights Council will discuss new Guiding Principles to ensure human rights are integral to economic policy-making.  EU states must endorse the new Principles and promote their use at national level.  Strong European support will show that lessons have been learned from the human costs of the financial crisis and see the EU standing behind its development policy commitments. A decade of austerity… A decade on from the onset of the global financial crisis, it is hard to ignore the mounting evidence that austerity economics have had a corrosive effect on the enjoyment of human rights across the world.  From Argentina to Greece, South Africa to the UK, the costs of severe fiscal consolidation have been disproportionately borne by society’s ...

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Annual Meetings round-up: As uncertainty reigns in the global economy, there are strong calls for a rethink of Fund and Bank policies

Maria Romero, Mark Perera, Gino Brunswijck

16 Oct 2018 15:22:45

With the country still reeling from the devastation of the Sulawesi tsunami, Indonesia played host to the Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Group (WBG), in Bali last week. The sobriety of the moment was reflected in gloomy forecasts from the IMF, which issued stark warnings of debt and trade risks to global growth. Meanwhile, controversy surrounded the World Bank’s new Human Capital Index; the 2019 World Development Report; and the ‘private finance first’ approach at the core of the Bank’s Maximising Finance for Development. CSOs and academics raised their voices to shine a light on the risks that the policies of the Bretton Woods Institutions (BWIs) posed to human rights and sustainable development across the Global South. Eurodad presented new ...

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European Parliament sounds the alarm over developing world debt crisis

Mark Perera

17 Apr 2018 15:50:58

This article has been originally published in EurActiv.The number of poor countries facing major debt crises has doubled since 2013, and only 1 in 5 are now considered to be at low risk of crisis. With some countries in the midst of crisis and others on the brink, meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) remains a pipe dream, writes Mark Perera. The debt burden of developing countries has been rising fast, both in absolute terms, and in relation to economic indicators such as GDP, export earnings, and government revenue – trends are driven by a number of factors. Monetary policy decisions in advanced economies introduced in the wake of the global financial crisis, including by the European Central Bank, triggered a lending boom to the developing world.  Falls ...

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Will rising international concern over a new debt crisis be matched by action?

Mark Perera

26 Mar 2018 12:00:51

Number of poor countries facing major debt crises doubles since 2013, says IMF, but are remedies robust enough? Last week, the IMF has turned up the volume on warnings of a new debt crisis in the Global South. In a report looking at macroeconomic developments in 59 of the world’s poorest countries (low-income developing countries or LIDCs), the IMF paints a bleak picture of rising debt risks and what this means for development spending. Forty per cent of LIDCs are now deemed to be at high risk of or in debt distress, with the most dramatic increases in debt vulnerabilities since 2013 generally being seen in Sub-Saharan Africa. Meanwhile, only one in five are considered to be at low risk: the lowest proportion since 2007.   What’s driving the downward debt trend? Eurodad and ...

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Towards new Guiding Principles: United Nations discusses the human rights impact of economic reforms

Mark Perera

01 Mar 2018 13:39:42

This week, the UN Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights presented a report to the Human Rights Council on the development of guiding principles to put human rights at the forefront of economic policy-making in moments of crisis. As the enjoyment of universal human rights continues to be undermined by austerity and irresponsible sovereign lending and borrowing, is the IMF taking full responsibility for its role in ensuring governments meet their obligations under international human rights law?   Economic reforms turn a blind eye to human rights Evidence of the damaging impact of austerity on human rights across the globe continues to mount. From the legacy of IMF structural adjustment in indebted low-income countries, to the effects of public spending cuts across Europe ...

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IMF challenged to match inequality rhetoric with action, and a campaign against the World Bank’s promotion of PPPs: Annual Meetings round up

Maria Romero, Mark Perera

18 Oct 2017 11:05:05

The annual meetings of the Bretton Woods Institutions (the IMF and World Bank) are over for another year. The meetings in Washington DC were held against a background of strengthened but patchy global economic growth mixed with considerable crisis risks and renewed geopolitical fights over the World Bank’s demand for a capital increase. Meanwhile, civil society organisations (CSOs) questioned the development impact of the Bretton Woods Institutions, and launched a global campaign against public-private partnerships (PPPs). IMF worries about debt (in China) and talks of taxing the rich more The 2017 Annual Meetings were preceded by the publication of the IMF’s World Economic Outlook (WEO), in which the IMF signalled stronger than expected growth forecasts for the global economy in 2017 ...