Social Justice in Global Development
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GLOBAL ECONOMIC GOVERNANCE

 By John Langmore and Shaun Fitzerald, University of Melbourne (2011)

The remarkable growth in the extent of international economic integration in recent decades has far outpaced the existing capacity for global economic governance. The intensification of globalisation has increased the inadequacy of the institutions of global economic governance and their policies. This became especially apparent during the Global Financial Crisis, also known as the Great Recession, which began in 2008 and the destructive effects of which still continue. The crisis showed that contemporary national and international economic institutions could not achieve stability let alone other goals. In fact, some of the policies multilateral economic institutions have been commending during the last thirty years contributed to the contagion which spread globally from the US where the crisis began. The frequency and speed with which economic problems in one country spill over to others indicates the importance of strengthening international institutions sufficiently to ensure that they are capable of taking swift, effective corrective action.

Enhanced global economic governance would be a key component of renewing the dominant discourse in international political economy. The most cost-effective national economic policies work partly because they are of benefit to other countries, but many are only possible if other countries adopt them too. For example, if all countries collaboratively introduce expansionary macroeconomic policies these then become mutually reinforcing, without damaging asymmetrical externalities. The most widely recognised example amongst economists is that of “beggar-thy-neighbour” tariff increases. When introduced to protect national manufacturing or agriculture, they do so at the expense of reduced global trade, with the aggregate effect being the retardation of economic recovery everywhere.

read full paper here » » »

In Ralph Pettman, (Ed.), forthcoming, A Handbook of International Political Economy, World Scientific Publishing, Singapore

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 THE CHALLENGE OF BUILDING EMPLOYMENT FOR A SUSTAINABLE RECOVERY

United Nations expert group meeting, Geneva, Switzerland, 23-24 June, 2011

By Gemma Adaba, former Director of the ICFTU/ITS Washington Office

Hard won gains in terms of achieving decent livelihoods and workers’ rights began seriously eroding in 2008 with the onset of the economic and financial crisis. The net effect has been to roll back the gains in those countries and economic sectors where growth and well-being were beginning to make some progress, and to exacerbate the situation for millions of working women and men, already faced with the hardships of informal and precarious working arrangements. A sense of social tension and unrest is palpable in the world community of workers, spanning the popular uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, through to widespread discontent in face of austerity measures introduced in Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland, and to protest movements spawned by proposed legislation to deprive public sector workers in Wisconsin, USA of their collective bargaining rights. And there is a sense that there is more to come.

These social upheavals can be traced back to inappropriate and unsustainable models of economic growth and development – models that keep wealth concentrated in a financialized sector with weak linkages to the real productive economy; - models that fail to provide vital public goods such as decent work and livelihoods for all, and democratic spaces for the enjoyment of fundamental human and trade union rights.

A comprehensive framework for employment-centred policies:

Global Unions therefore insist on the need for changes in the broader macro-economic framework and policy responses. There is a need for global coordination, so that policies converge and reinforce each other, and remain firmly linked to socially just outcomes, particularly decent work and social protection.

Countercyclical policies should prioritize the strengthening of labor markets through the following means. Investments should be promoted in areas such as infrastructure that would generate employment opportunities.

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See Powerpoint presentation  »»»

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Poverty Reduction through Social Protection: A Potential Form of Debt for Development Exchange

By John Langmore and Anthony Clunies Ross (2011)

The global financial crisis is expected to add 64 million more people in poverty than would have been so in the absence of the crisis. Progress in reducing poverty below US$2 is expected to be slower: about 2 billion people are expected to be living on US$2 or less in 2015. These figures mean that despite significant economic growth in many countries huge numbers of people will remain oppressed by deprivation for the foreseeable future. Even if the MDG target was achieved that would still leave nearly a billion people living in severe poverty. Stronger, equitable economic and social development is essential and so too are additional means of poverty reduction.One mechanism is the possibility of establishing or strengthening social protection as a means of directly reducing income poverty. The right to social protection has been widely recognised for decades and advocated as a cost-effective method of strengthening economic security. 

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is currently advocating that the international community should not just repair the problems identified by the crisis in global financial, monetary and economic systems, but should be advocating and supporting the development of a social protection floor to protect people during the crisis, and thereafter. A social protection floor could consist of two main elements that help to realize respective human rights: essential services: ensuring the availability, continuity, and access to public services (such as water and sanitation, health, education, and family-focused social work support); and social transfers: a basic set of essential social transfers, in cash and in kind, paid to the poor and vulnerable to enhance food security and nutrition and provide a minimum income security.

A basic social protection package is demonstrably affordable on condition that the package is implemented through the joint efforts of the low-income countries themselves and of the international donor community. Steps towards such programs are already underway in additional countries such as Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique and Nepal and other countries are expected to start soon.

Debt for social protection’ exchange could play a role in inaugurating or capitalising a new scheme. By increasing financial resources for a government at one point a ‘debt for social protection’ exchange could contribute to overcoming initial financial constraints. Another possible means of playing a role would be for debt swaps to be phased over a period of years.    read full paper here » » »

 In Ross P. Buckley (Ed.), 2011, Debt-for-Development Exchanges: History and New Applications, New York, OUP, pp 209 - 222.

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HOW TO RESOLVE SOVEREIGN DEBT CRISES IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY

Initiative for Policy Dialogue input to GIZ conference on Sovereign Debt Management and Beyond – Identifying Policy Options to Prevent and Resolve Future Debt Crises, Berlin, June 27, 2011

By Barry Herman, Visiting Senior Fellow, Graduate Program in International Affairs, The New School, New York

A piece of the international financial architecture is missing, one that would facilitate more effective, fair and timely sovereign debt workouts than the ad hoc, inconsistent and sometimes highly political processes that are applied today. While a newly created mechanism should be available to any sovereign government, including in Europe, special concerns have been voiced, as in the convoking of this conference, for improving debt workouts in low and middle-income countries, where crisis-related declines in living standards that are part and parcel of sovereign debt crises are hardest to bear. The desirability of having such a mechanism was globally agreed by heads of state and their finance and foreign ministers at the Monterrey Summit on Financing for Development in 2002,2 and serious discussions about creating such a mechanism took place at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2002-3, albeit without reaching agreement. It was not the first time that the matter was addressed internationally. Efforts were made to create international debt workout mechanisms in 1907 (Hague Convention), 1933 (Montevideo Pan American Conference), 1942 (early stages of Bretton Woods), 1978 (UNCTAD agreed guidelines), 1996 (HIPC for poorest countries), as well as the IMF initiative in 2002-3 (SDRM).3 If a permanent global instrument has not yet been created, can it still happen? Yes, global institutional changes do happen, albeit only when the conditions are ripe. This paper argues that launching an initiative at this time would be opportune

 See at: http://policydialogue.org/publications/working_papers/how_to_resolve_sovereign_debt_crises_in_the_twenty-first_century/   

                                                                                                Download paper  ››› 

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ECOSOC postponed a resolution to establish a Panel of Experts on economic affairs

by Bhumika Muchhala, Third World Network, September 2011, New York

Informal negotiations on an ad hoc Panel of Experts reveal a sharp lack of consensus between North and South United Nations members, with a final decision by the General Assembly postponed until 2011-end. Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) negotiations held at the UN in Geneva in July on the creation of an ad hoc panel of experts did not result in a decision to establish such a panel as an integral part of the follow-up to the UN’s 2009 conference on the world financial and economic crisis. 

Instead, a decision by ECOSOC was postponed to December of this year, when the UN General Assembly in New York will conclude its discussions and events on global economic governance. While this is not an optimal result, it preserves the space for a continuing dialogue on a panel of experts which would offer economic policy opinions from a different lens than that of the G20 and which would address the outcome of the 2009 UN conference on the crisis. A dialogue will maintain the possibility of a positive outcome to create such a panel even though the European Union and the United States opposed its establishment.

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Civil society calls for establishment of UN panel of expert

Social Justice in Global Development initiated a letter, signed by more than 100 civil society organizations and NGO networks, to the ECOSOC calling for the adoption of a G77 resolution to establish an expert panel on economic issues at the UN. This resolution on the “establishment of a panel on the world financial and economic crisis and its impact on development” was finally adopted at the ECOSOC at the end of July. But the EU and the US succeeded in weakening it a lot. They reduced it to 3 paragraphs and postponed the decision to establish the panel to December, when the UN General Assembly concludes in New York, after all those UN discussions and events on global economic governance referred to in the resolution have taken place. A copy of the resolution is also attached.

         See letter with all signatures  ›››

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Third World Network Statement on Global Governance at the UN General Assembly in June 2011

by Bhumika Muchhala, Third World Network June 2011, Geneva

As stated in the report of the Commission of Experts of the President of the General Assembly on Reforms of the International Monetary and Financial System, published on September 21, 2009, the recent crisis should be seen as an opportunity to engage in necessary reforms. Historically, moments of crises often provide a rare chance for fundamental reforms that would otherwise be impossible. But there is also a danger that existing power structures will seize hold and use the crisis for their own benefit. This would reinforce existing inequalities and inequities with an even greater concentration of economic and political power than existed before the crisis. 

It is thus of utmost importance that the United Nations member states take charge of its rightful mandate of global economic governance through the strengthening of the ECOSOC apparatus, the actualization of the follow-up processes to the June 2009 UN financial crisis conference, as well as through other means.

                                 Read more ›››

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A PRAGMATIC IDEAL FOR GLOBAL ECONOMIC GOVERNANCE REFORM 

By Barry Herman, Graduate Program in International Affairs, The New School

In 2008, as the financial crisis in the United States spilled over its borders and threatened a global economic breakdown, it became increasingly clear that a collective international response was needed. No international body existed that could organize such a response. The informal Group of 8 (G8) no longer had enough available economic muscle. The Security Council of the United Nations had no mandate in the economic sphere. The United Nations General Assembly was far too unwieldy to mobilize quick action and the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in which all member countries are represented albeit inequitably, had a more limited and routine function. The President of France proposed opening the G8 to five additional countries with which the Eight had started a dialogue at head-of-state level, making for a “G13”. The President of the United States countered with a proposal to upgrade a modest discussion forum of 20 finance ministers and central bank governors to a leaders’ forum. Thus, the new “G20” was born (Herman 2008). At their first meeting in November 2008 in Washington, D.C., the G20 leaders agreed to undertake a coordinated global economic stimulus and start a process of international financial reform. The stimulus helped stop a global economic recession from becoming a global depression, but initially promising plans for the international reform of financial regulation were weakened and postponed.

Advocates of the G20 tout it as a more appropriate and more effective forum than the G8 (see, for example, Bradford 2009, Kirton 2010), but that seems faint praise. Surely, the world can do better. This paper asks, what do we mean by better? Actual reforms in global economic governance are inevitably compromises between an intended ideal or vision and the changes that reforming decision makers will tolerate. They are the result of the differential power of governments that are making the changes and the pressures they are under to reach compromises. But what is the ideal toward which they should work? That is, acknowledging that nations are what they are, that politicians are what they are, what might a system of global economic governance look like if the negotiators were under inexorable pressure to design a new system?

                                                                                                                 Download paper ›››

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The role of the United Nations in Global Economic Governance

By Yilmaz Akyüz, Special Economic Advisor, South Centre

How can policies pursued by specialized agencies mutually reinforce each other in support of equitable, rapid and sustained economic and social development?

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More Coherence, but How? The Institutional Predicament of Coherence

by Barry Herman (Ph.D., University of Michigan) is Visiting Senior Fellow at the Graduate Program in International Affairs of The New School in New York

The global crises of 2008-2010 forced recognition that global survival depends on more effective international cooperation. Decisions are made by states and national legislation is required to turn international agreements into laws that bind non-state actors, which national courts will enforce. A largely ineffective and politically weak multilateral system could not cope with the crisis. G20 was created to solve the coherence problem. We need a new system for coherent and effective global policy. This new system should be developed that earns the confidence of the people in rich and poor countries, of labor and capital, of public and private sectors. The following scenario envisages a world of “global governance” but not of global government. 

Proposal for a new system: Two-level structure: New specialized international institutions would address technical policy issues, such as in rules for international trade or cooperation for international financial stability. A new Global Governance Assembly (GGA) should determine the overall principles that guide these aforementioned institutions, and the priorities in terms of resolving conflicts among them. 

Decision-making procedures: dual voting systems: Decisions should generally be taken by a dual voting system demanding for a specified majority of the number of states voting and a specified majority of weighted votes by economic significance. This voting system makes small states count and the importance of big states is adequately reflected as they have to pay more of the bill. 

The new system should have a 15-member Global Council as an affiliated body of the GGA. It would include large state members that are elected for 10-year terms and another group elected for two-year terms, with appropriate geographical distribution. The Council would address inconsistencies among specialized institutions and deal with complex economic and political emergencies, including social and environmental emergencies. It would be subject to review by the GGA.

                       read more and download full PowerPoint presentation >>>

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ACHIEVING THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS (MDGS) REQUIRES FUNDAMENTAL REFORMS IN THE INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL ARCHITECTURE

by Bhumika Muchhala, Third World Network June 15, 2010, New York

Development-oriented macroeconomic policies, debt mechanisms and innovative financing measures are critical to achieve the MDGs United Nations General Assembly hearings on the Millennium Development Goals. 

In the last few years, as the world economy has experienced both a financial and an economic crisis of magnitude proportions, the predominant arrangements and assumptions of the model for economic development and global finance has also come into a fundamental crisis of its own. As the shock waves of the global financial crisis rippled over the developed world, painful repercussions were generated for developing countries, which are still reeling from the deep contraction in world demand and the consequent decreases in export earnings, FDI and private capital flows, and remittances, despite news headlines and official reports that say the world is now in a ‘post‐crisis mode.’ These effects not only exacerbate the already existing challenges in achieving the MDGs, but also point to systemic flaws and gaps in the economic development model pursued by most developing countries, such as macroeconomic policies, debt measures and financial liberalization.

A central challenge in creating this basis is not the lack of explicitly economic goals in the MDG framework, but rather the challenge of formulating a policy strategy, in the context of an imbalanced global financial and trade system, that would back up the human‐development ambitions of the MDG framework. 

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Strengthening global economic governance

by Eva Hanfstaengl, SocDevJustice 2011

One central question for the global discussions today is: how can the UN help strengthen global economic governance? After the financial crisis in 2009, governments and civil society see the need for substantial improvement in the coordination of global economic policy. Global economic integration has outpaced the development of the appropriate political institutions and arrangements for governance of the global economic system. The global financial and economic crisis requires an unprecedented global response. We need policies that can build just, participatory and sustainable societies. This requires far-reaching reforms of the international financial architecture, which cannot be decided by the G-8 nor G-20 alone, but needs response from the entire international community.                                                    read more >>>

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Financing for Development - A Process initiated by the South

by Eva Hanfstaengl, SocDevJustice 2011

In 1997, the UN General Assembly adopted an Agenda for Development and decided that "Due consideration should be given to modalities for conducting an intergovernmental dialogue on financing of development”. Then, at the request of the developing countries, the United Nations started preparing a consultation process on how the commitments agreed at the major conferences of the 1990s were to be financed. In 1999 a very difficult debate began between South and North on a possible agenda for such an international conference. Whereas the North focussed their discussions on how to mobilise domestic and international resources for development, including foreign direct investment, the South preferred to talk about debt restructuring, ODA and trade policy. A sensitive area of discussion was the question of how to address systemic issues and structural implications involved in the international coordination of development initiatives, including a better global governance and financial architecture reform. The aim was to adopt a concrete and precise plan of action for the international community.

To keep up an effective FfD follow-up process it will be important for civil society worldwide, including in the South, to put pressure on governments to further implement the commitments made in Monterrey and at the second "International Conference on Financing for Development in Doha 2008” and at the UN Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis in 2009 in New York  and continue debate on the recommendations made by the Committee of Experts to the GA President in 2009, chaired by Prof. Stiglitz). 

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AN DESA Working Paper: Impact of the Economic Crises on Civil Society Organizations    

A study by Eva Hanfstaengl 2010

The food, environmental and economic crises have challenged civil society organizations (CSOs) and the communities they serve. A broad-based survey, initiated by the United Nations Division for Social Policy and Development and guided by a Civil Society Steering Committee, was undertaken in 2009 that measured the impact of the crises on the operating capacity of CSOs around the world and their expectations as they look ahead. This study examines the current situation of CSOs as indicated by responses from 640 civil society organizations worldwide. It also asks what strategies they are undertaking to cope with a drop of revenues and how to strengthen social-service delivery capacities of CSOs during crisis periods.

JEL Classification: D710, Z00, F35

                                    Full study under:  www.un.org/esa/desa/papers/2010/wp97_2010.pdf

        read article >>>            read Executive Summary >>>              download powerpoint >>>
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ENOFAD: Achieving the MDGs is threatened by costs of climate change - A solution lies in innovative finance

by David Hillman and Eva Hanfstaengl

After the recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and other important dialogues by both Governments and NGOs it has become apparent that costs of Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation will run into tens of billions of dollars each year. At present these costs threaten to swallow development budgets. Unprecedented choices now need to be made between, for example, protecting forests or building schools. Both are necessary - we must protect the environment and we have to develop the skills of future generations. Additional sources of finance derived from Innovative Instruments are a relatively recent phenomenon. They have been on the sidelines boosting ODA in certain strategic areas such as Immunisation and HIV/AIDS treatments. They now need to move to centre-stage. Years of research into various initiatives has set the scene for the introduction of powerful untapped income streams worth billions of dollars. With the new budgetary pressure of Climate Change, Innovative Finance Instruments need to be introduced. Additional budgetary demands require additional resources. Without them, how can the Millennium Development Goals possibly be met?                                                                                                                                                                                            read more >>>

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High-level United Nations Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development in June 2009 adopted an Outcome Dokument on reform of global financial governance

by Eva Hanfstaengl

On June 26, in New York, the high-level United Nations Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development adopted unanimously an official "UN Outcome Document" that opens a door - even if only a small one - to a possible UN role in the reform of global financial governance. The preparations for the UN conference, however, were not without severe difficulties. The run-up to the conference highlighted sharp differences between Southern nations, which want to give the United Nations more say in tackling the financial crisis, and Western governments, who prefer to conduct their business within the Group of 20 (G-20) nations. Until now, global financial and monetary issues have been the responsibility of the International Monetary Fund and the Group of 8 (G-8), relying on the expertise of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) and the Financial Stability Board, both of which include central banks and treasuries hailing largely from developed nations. However, with the present financial crisis having originated in the North and posing untold negative consequences for the South, political pressure has ramped up on the developed world to include other voices in mitigating this disaster. Impacts of the crisis, such as slowing growth rates, rising unemployment, and declining budgets are beginning to affect developing countries. Developing countries, including the poorest countries, therefore claim that everybody should have a stake in financial regulation. It is in this context that the demand for this global conference on reform of the financial and monetary system emerged.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   read full article >>>

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Strengthen the UN 'Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters'

by Eva Hanfstaengl

The UN needs to take further steps to truly establish a wider forum of experts to seriously tackle these problems. Therefore, we urge to strengthen the UN ”Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters”. There should be more members from the South and the agenda needs to be more representative of developing countries concern. In addition, there is a need to establish a political body or a tax authority to tackle harmful practices and violations of rules. We also urge governments to join the new international “Task Force on Combating Tax Havens and Capital Flight” set up by Norway. Governments around the world feel increasingly compelled to offer tax incentives to attract mobile capital.  But the supposed benefits, in terms of job creation, rarely materialise while the costs to taxpayers are enormous.  Severe tax competition amongst countries, increased avoidance and evasion taxes both by rich individuals and companies and a dramatic reduction in import tariffs have meant that tax revenues are being squeezed. This problem affects rich and poor countries alike, though the development costs in poor countries are likely to be much higher.

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International Debate on a Sovereign Debt Restructuring Mechanism

by Eva Hanfstaengl

In the context Argentinean debt crisis in 2000-2001 and at the Financing for Development Conference 2002 the need for an international debt workout mechanism was discussedand in September 2005, the World Summit and General Assembly adopted a paragraph on debt to consider significant debt relief or restructuring for low- and middle-income developing countries with an unsustainable debt burden that are not part of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative, as well as the exploration of mechanisms to comprehensively address the debt problems of those countries. Such mechanisms may include debt for sustainable development swaps or multicreditor debt swap arrangements, as appropriate. These initiatives could include further efforts by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to develop the debt sustainability framework for low-income countries. This should be achieved in a fashion that does not detract from official development assistance resources, while maintaining the financial integrity of the multilateral financial institutions.

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see 2005 World Summit Outcome Document

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Need for more debt relief

by Eva Hanfstaengl

ActionAid/Oxfam and Eurodad recently examined European government approaches to aid, debt and trade. The findings were that far too little is being done by many governments. On debt relief, unfortunately; the HIPC Initiative has so far failed to reduce debt to sustainable levels in most countries where it is in place. Even those countries which have qualified for HIPC are paying $2.8 billion a year to their creditors, money which could instead go on development spending.

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About an Orderly and Fair Debt Workout Mechanism

by Juergen Kaiser and Eva Hanfstaengl

Between 1999 and 2005 substantial progress has been achieved in terms of debt relief for developing countries and emerging markets. Through a combination of partial debt relief and strong economic growth key indicators could be considerably reduced in several countries. In a few Non-HIPC countries individually designed debt relief also led to considerable improvements. During this process the international community failed, however, to develop debt  management as such any further. A newly over-indebted developing country would in principle face today the same problems countries had after the crisis’ outbreak in 1982: there exists no comprehensive mechanism to reduce a country’s exposure to all its creditors in an orderly and pre-defined way. Neither the highly indebted poor countries initiative (HIPC) nor the multilateral debt relief initiative (MDRI) relief, nor the World Bank’s debt sustainability analysis (DSA), which still relates only to the poorest countries and thus to the limited scope of creditors who traditionally lend to them, has changed this dilemma.

At the same time the spectrum of creditors and the variety of instruments these creditors use, has considerably widened in the past years. Transition and  emerging economies have become important lenders themselves. So have private investment funds and domestic lenders. New instruments include new types of bonds, the return of the classic syndicated loan from the money centre banks, as well as a new run by Export Credit Agencies. The International Financial Institutions (IFIs) have tried to bring lending decisions by the new creditors within the borrowing limits set under the Bank’s debt sustainability analysis (DSA). These efforts do not look promising, because they aim at unilaterally exerting pressure on the borrower, without providing much of an incentive for the creditor to forego an investment opportunity, which would eventually endanger the borrower’s long-term debt sustainability. In any event, the Bank does not calculate DSA guidelines for middle-income countries.

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