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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 ...

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First as tragedy, now as farce: lessons from 12 August 1982

Mark Perera

12 Aug 2017 08:47:36

As the saying goes, history repeats itself because no one was listening the first time. This month marks the 35th anniversary of an event that sparked a debt crisis across the developing world. It was a crisis triggered by low interest rates in the Global North, a reckless boom in lending and borrowing to Southern countries over-reliant on commodity exports, and a fall in the price of those same commodities. Sound familiar? The parallels with today’s developing world debt crisis are stark, and looking back at how the 1980s crisis arose and how it was dealt with, there are worrying signs that very little has been learned despite repeated calls by Eurodad and other civil society organisations for a comprehensive, UN-backed debt workout mechanism. A crisis begins On 12 August 1982, Mexican ...

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Economic reform must not be an excuse for undermining human rights

Mark Perera

31 Jul 2017 16:37:51

Earlier this year, the UN Human Rights Council asked the Independent Expert on debt and human rights to develop guiding principles on human rights impact assessments (HRIAs) for economic reform policies. These principles will aim to provide states and international financial institutions, in particular, with guidance on how to identify the harmful impacts of structural adjustment and austerity measures. Equipped with the findings from HRIAs, decision-makers should take action to prioritise their obligations under international law and safeguard human rights. Now Eurodad has written to the Independent Expert setting out its views on what the key elements of these HRIAs should be, in order to guarantee they put the needs of citizens at the forefront of relevant economic decision-making. Looming ...