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The World Bank's headquarters in Washington, DC. Photo by Ryan Rayburn / World Bank

The COVID-19 Crisis Is the Time for the World Bank to Embrace Bold Economic Policies

It is often said that governments “fight the last war” during times of economic crisis. But based on David Malpass’ remarks from last week’s G20 Finance Ministers call, it appears the World Bank is preparing to fight the wars of the 1990s by revamping old—and largely discredited—crisis policy prescriptions to address what is likely to be a severe economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stacks of US dollars. Adobe Stock

More Than $1 Trillion in MDB Firepower Exists as We Approach a COVID-19 “Break the Glass” Moment

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.

An aerial view of Dhaka, Bangladesh. Photo by Dominic Chavez / World Bank

“Spend What It Takes” to Respond to COVID-19 in Poor Countries, Too

It is now only a question of when, not if, the COVID-19 pandemic will exact its human and economic toll on the poor and developing countries of South Asia, Africa, and Latin America the way it is already ravaging East Asia, Europe, and North America. And when it does, they too will need to respond with exceptional heath and financial measures in the face of this unprecedented global challenge.

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