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A New Agenda for the MDBs: Five Practical Reforms

Today, the Center for Global Development, the Brookings Institution, and the Overseas Development Institute released The New Global Agenda and the Future of the MDB System, a report we jointly prepared as input to the deliberations of the G20-convened Eminent Persons Group on Global Financial Governance. We argue that current global economic challenges require a rethink of the role that multilateral development banks (MDBs) can play in developing countries. Here are the top five areas where MDB reform is needed to help meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals:

Is the IFC Taking On Even Less Risk Than We Suggest? Our Readers Respond

Since the publication of our paper on the IFC’s project portfolio last week, we have received several helpful comments from readers. They plausibly suggest that the portfolio may be (even) less risky than we suggested, with even more space to pivot towards the low income countries where the IFC can make the most difference. But until the IFC publishes more information, we won’t really know.

Aid Transparency and Private Sector Subsidies at the IFC

Vijaya Ramachandran, Ben Leo, Jared Karlow and I have just published two papers looking at where and in what capacity the IFC, OPIC, and selected European development finance institutions (DFIs) are investing their money. The core of the papers is a dataset that Jared painstakingly put together by scraping public documentation about DFI projects. It wasn’t easy because DFIs are considerably behind many aid agencies in releasing usable data on their portfolios. And that lack of transparency presents a significant problem if those same DFIs spend aid money on subsidizing the private sector.

The International Finance Corporation’s Mission Is Facilitating Risky Investments—So Why Is It Taking on Less and Less Risk?

The IFC is designed to catalyze investments in countries that investors might consider too risky to invest in alone. But our recent analysis of IFC’s portfolio found that it is shying away from risky investments, raising serious questions about whether the IFC is focusing on the places where it can make the most difference.

Complying with or Circumventing Conditionality: Two Cases of IMF and Sub-Saharan Africa Country Partnership

The purpose of this presentation was to use two cases of IMF-supported program conditionality to animate a discussion of the bridge between first-best policy advice and on-the-ground development policy in country-specific political economy contexts. Having been involved as Minister of Finance in the Liberia case, and as Director of the Fund’s African Department in the Mozambique case, I approach the issue from both an outside- and an inside-the-IMF perspective.

DFIs Embark on a Voyage of Rediscovery

Development finance institutions (DFIs) have long resisted the idea that they ought to support coordinated national development strategies in the countries that they invest in, but if conversations around private roundtables at the recent World Bank/IMF meetings are anything to go by, that’s where they may be heading. And if so, it may be the private sector itself that leads them there.

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