In new research, we find that China’s role as a creditor has likely been a key driver of more burdensome lending terms in the form of higher interest rates, shorter maturities, and shorter grace periods for lower-income countries.
CGD Policy Blogs
Measuring the Impact of Coronavirus on Global SMEs: A Survey Instrument in Chinese, English, and Spanish
To better understand the toll of coronavirus, Xiaobo Zhang led a nationwide SME survey in China. In the interest of promoting further efforts in other countries, we are publishing the original Chinese-language survey, English- and Spanish-language versions, and a technical note from Zhang about the details of the survey in China.
In retrospect, the scale up in MDB financing during the 2008-2010 crisis, though significant, now looks conservative as we consider the potential scale of damage from the current COVID-19 pandemic. To put the question bluntly, if the human and economic devastation follows a worst-case scenario, just how much could the MDBs do to respond? We attempt to answer that question by assessing the legal, rather than prudential, constraints on MDB lending.
Debt relief for low-income countries is on the table of measures to consider for coronavirus response. The imperative right now is to get cash to LICs as quickly as possible. Suspending some debt service payments may be a good first step in freeing up some budget space for new spending. Beyond that, protracted debt-relief negotiations with multilateral and commercial creditors right now could be a distraction at best but could also actively undermine the ability of institutions like the World Bank to offer new financing for crisis response.
Yesterday we sent the following letter to U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the House Speaker, and U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the Senate Majority Leader, outlining measures that could be included in upcoming Congressional emergency legislation related to combating the coronavirus in developing countries. The text of the letter follows:
Dear Speaker Pelosi and Senator McConnell:
The experience of the 2007 global financial crisis can tell us a few things about how low-income countries could be affected by the coronavirus pandemic in the near term, even as we recognize that the myriad economic problems created by the pandemic are almost certainly greater in number and scale than the problems in 2007.
It’s far from clear yet that G20 leaders are ready to return to the playbook of 2008 and 2009, which prioritized using the informal body to coordinate and make real commitments to respond to a global crisis. But an effective global response requires it.
As markets respond to COVID-19, it looks increasingly likely that the IMF and multilateral development bank system will need to provide coordinated countercyclical support around the world.
Yesterday the World Bank announced $12 billion in financing available to member countries to respond to the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak. There is not much information yet in the public domain on the sources and planned uses for this money, but five questions – each with additional corresponding questions – come to mind when reading the press release:
This week, World Bank president David Malpass took the unusual step of calling out the bank’s peer institutions, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and African Development Bank, for lending irresponsibly into unsustainable debt environments.