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Borrowing is a critical source of financing for human and physical investment. Yet for developing countries borrowing presents unique financial challenges the investment it supports often has diffuse and long-term benefits. Going into the COVID-19 crisis, a growing number of developing countries were facing difficulties in managing their debt, which have been aggravated in the wake of the pandemic.
In this body of work, CGD experts address the following questions: How should borrowing be used to overcome the immediate crisis and relaunch a sustainable and resilient recovery? Can debt relief provide a short-term palliative? For how long? When should longer-term debt restructuring be considered? How can the global community deal help developing countries deal with private sector debt? What is the role of “new” official creditors that were not part of previous debt relief initiatives?
The Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI), the latest phase of debt reduction for poor countries from the World Bank, the IMF, and the African Development Bank, will come close to full debt reduction for at least 19 and perhaps as many as 40 countries. Debt relief proponents see it as a momentous leap in the battle against global poverty. CGD research fellow Todd Moss argues that actual gains in poverty reduction will be modest and slow.
Over the last several years, the United States and other major donor countries have supported a historic initiative to write down the official debts of a group of heavily indebted poor countries, or HIPCs. Donor countries had two primary goals in supporting debt relief: to reduce countries' debt burdens to levels that would allow them to achieve sustainable growth; and to promote a new way of assisting poor countries focused on home-grown poverty alleviation and human development. While the current "enhanced HIPC" program of debt relief is more ambitious than any previous initiative, it will fall short of meeting these goals. We propose expanding the HIPC program to include all low-income countries and increasing the resources dedicated to debt relief. Because debt relief will still only be a first step, we also recommend reforms of the current "aid architecture" that will make debt more predictably sustainable, make aid more efficient, and help recipient countries graduate from aid dependence.
Nigeria has $33 billion in external debt. The government has been trying unsuccessfully for years to cut a deal with creditors to reduce its external obligations but to date has only managed to gain non-concessional restructuring. The major creditors also have good reasons for wanting to seek a resolution, yet agreement has been elusive. Fortunately, there is a brief window of opportunity in 2005 to find a compromise that can meet the needs of both sides. This note briefly outlines a proposal for striking such a deal through a discounted debt buyback.
The White House and the World: A Global Development Agenda for the Next U.S. President shows how modest changes in U.S. policies could greatly improve the lives of poor people in developing countries, thus fostering greater stability, security, and prosperity globally and at home. Center for Global Development experts offer fresh perspectives and practical advice on trade policy, migration, foreign aid, climate change and more. In an introductory essay, CGD President Nancy Birdsall explains why and how the next U.S. president must lead in the creation of a better, safer world.