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Thus far, the “billions to trillions” vision is not coming to fruition. The greatly expanded private capital flows that people hoped for, especially for SDG-related infrastructure and for low-income countries (LICs), have not materialized. Given stagnating aid flows, attempts to accelerate spending have raised public debt, putting macroeconomic stability at risk in many LICs. Many call for more catalytic use of donor resources to mobilize private finance, but others question whether blending public and private monies would just subsidize the private sector, or divert public funds from social and infrastructure investment in LICs and fragile states aimed at reducing poverty. CGD research focuses on building the evidence base for better understanding the challenges and devising innovative solutions in synergizing public and private finance. We are analysing private capital flows to LICs after the global financial crisis; examining the factors limiting the role development finance institutions (DFIs) are playing in mobilizing private finance; exploring the characteristics and sources of finance of infrastructure projects in Africa; assessing the impact of blended finance on poverty; and proposing changes to the development finance architecture to boost DFI risk tolerance, mobilization, and impact.
In an ideal world, development finance institutions (DFIs) should focus on the biggest constraints for businesses in developing countries. This helps to expand their impact beyond a single project or investment, thereby producing more systemic benefits. However, this is a particularly challenging issue for many DFIs given their operating models, which are typically driven by investor priorities.
Even among policymakers, there is plenty of misunderstanding around how the US government’s premier agency charged with advancing a private sector-based development agenda, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), actually operates. When we searched for a database with key OPIC project-level information, we couldn’t find one. So we spent months manually entering all of the publicly available information on OPIC projects into a single location, the OPIC Scraped Portfolio dataset.
Lifting the trade and investment embargo on Cuba is a laudable policy objective that would allow Cubans better access to American goods and services. It might also give American businesses a boost, including from places that could do with one, like rural Louisiana. Changing the law will be an uphill struggle unless November’s elections transform Congress. But even if Congress can agree, changes to the law might not be sufficient to convince investors to go to Cuba.
The first thing we should be asking is why now in particular, since conditions have not really changed much in the past few months. For example, back in September, there were large uncertainties in the global economy. China’s economic slowdown was causing alarm. Volatility in international capital markets was high. The appreciation of the US dollar was hurting US exports, which could (yet) mean slower US economic growth. That was not the time for the US Federal Reserve to up interest rates. But now it is – and here’s why.
Emerging market countries that manage to diversify and upgrade their production and export base grow more rapidly and enjoy greater welfare gains than those that do not. Foreign direct investment in manufacturing is concentrated in middle- and upper-skilled activities -- not lowest-skilled operations -- and thus offers many opportunities for structural transformation of the host economy. But the challenge of using FDI to diversify and upgrade the local production and export base is fraught with market failures and tricky obstacles. Contemporary debates about industrial policy as a development tool focus on how best to overcome these market failures and other difficulties.
The authors find that the value of discovered reserves is high relative to the costs of exploration and that many countries can continue to generate resource rents far longer than indicated by current reserve estimates. In some cases, public measures to encourage private exploration may be justified.
An international group of experts convened by the Center for Global Development (CGD) and Social Finance UK is seeking to play matchmaker for an unlikely pairing, urging investors and aid donors to join together to create Development Impact Bonds (DIBs), a new financial instrument that taps private sector innovation to help improve the lives of poor people in the developing world.
Senior fellow David Wheeler and Kevin Ummel argue for rapid, very large-scale deployment of existing solar thermal technology. Using maps of solar radiation and project finance calculations, they show that with modest subsidies solar power generated in North Africa and the Middle East could meet the needs of 35 million Europeans by 2020. At that point, solar power would be cheaper than fossil fuels and future projects would no longer require subsidies.