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An image of the seas off the coast of Belize.

Belize’s Big Blue Debt Deal: At Last, A Scalable Model?

Last Friday, the Government of Belize alongside the U.S. Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and the Nature Conservancy (TNC) announced the financial close of the largest blue bond for Ocean Conservation to date. The program enables Belize to convert its existing Eurobond (i.e. foreign currency bonds issued on the international market) into blue debt that it will use to implement its national marine conservation agenda.

An image of a graph showing Median annual Gini coefficient in LIDCs around a fiscal tightening, by tightening type

Low-Income Developing Countries Will Surely Need More Debt Relief Down the Line

The COVID-19 pandemic has left a large dent in the government budgets of low-income countries (LIDCs). During 2020, they had no choice but to increase public spending to fight the pandemic at a time when shrinking economic activity depressed their revenues. In this blog post, we argue that while these efforts to expand the flow of concessional resources to LIDCs are laudable, they are unlikely to be sufficient and, going forward, some form of debt relief will be necessary to secure fiscal sustainability down the road for these countries. 

How Sudan’s Crippling Debt Could Cause a Budget Problem for President Trump

With last week’s decision by the Trump Administration to extend the review period for permanent removal of long-standing sanctions on Sudan, the debate over the nature of future US engagement with Sudan will continue. As this month’s report of the Atlantic Council’s Sudan Task Force points out, US support for debt relief will be high on the Sudanese government’s agenda; such relief would unlock international financing that supports economic development and poverty reduction. What the report does not mention is that such relief would likely require significant new funds being appropriated by Congress.

Cash for Poor Countries, or Another Round of Subprime Lending?

This is a joint post with Benjamin Leo.

A special new lending facility was announced in July 2009 with the objective of providing up to $17 billion in new loans through 2014 and, to entice cash-strapped borrowers, the lender is waiving interest payments for the first two years. This may sound like dangerous new short-term teaser offers for sub-prime borrowers. But this isn’t coming from Countrywide Financial. It actually is a new IMF facility for low-income countries, including some of heavily indebted poor countries (HIPCs) who are just barely coming out of the last debt crisis.

The stated objectives of the new IMF facility are laudable: to offset the effects of the global economic crisis by boosting international reserves and supporting adjustment policies. And yes, the overall terms are more concessional than past IMF loans. Nonetheless, the net impact on national debt levels may be significant. And it was just four years ago that the IMF committed to cancel roughly $6 billion in bad loans to many of these very same countries.