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DebtCon 2 Conference: Leading debt researchers stress the need for fundamental reforms

Bodo Ellmers

10 Oct 2017 18:35:28

A fine selection of the world’s most important debt experts met in Geneva on 5 and 6 October to discuss key challenges in sovereign debt management, and how to address them. The second DebtCon conference, convened by Georgetown University’s Anna Gelpern, and Ugo Panizza from the Graduate Institute in Geneva, tackled questions such as the need for a multilateral debt restructuring mechanism, dealing with vulture fund litigation, better approaches to assess debt sustainability, and debt and human rights. The question cutting across all these issues: when will that Euro crisis finally be resolved - and in particular when will Greece be released from the debt trap? One thing became clear, policy-makers have accumulated a huge backlog in reforms. There ...

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Campaign improves IMF debt assessments, but risk of crises continues to increase

10 Oct 2017 11:16:12

This is a guest blog article by Tim Jones from the Jubilee Debt Campaign.  The IMF and World Bank have agreed some positive changes to their system for monitoring debts of impoverished countries, though some large issues have been ignored. The system, known as the Debt Sustainability Framework, is important as it directly impacts on amounts of lending by the World Bank and other multilateral development banks, and influences lending decisions by governments and the private sector. A key improvement is that some of the hidden cost from Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) will now be included. This was one of the main demands of global civil society of the review, and 2,500 people wrote to the UK’s representative at the IMF asking for this change to be made. One of the main reasons government’s ...

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The unexpected Mozambican debt crisis: illegitimate debt back on the international agenda

Bodo Ellmers

22 Aug 2017 14:26:41

Mozambique’s default on commercial loans worth US$2bn has triggered the latest - and arguably most shocking - African debt crisis in recent times. While nearly all African countries suffer from low commodity prices and rising credit costs, the Mozambican case is unusual in that it reveals how easily the new development finance paradigm, centred on private capital, can go wrong. The successful attraction of commercial loans did not boost Mozambique’s development. They caused a development disaster. The case also underlines that the current global governance regime has no effective mechanism in place to prevent irresponsible lending and borrowing - or to deal with their consequences - and the need to get rid of a pile of illegitimate debts which will continue ...

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First as tragedy, now as farce: lessons from 12 August 1982

Mark Perera

12 Aug 2017 08:47:36

As the saying goes, history repeats itself because no one was listening the first time. This month marks the 35th anniversary of an event that sparked a debt crisis across the developing world. It was a crisis triggered by low interest rates in the Global North, a reckless boom in lending and borrowing to Southern countries over-reliant on commodity exports, and a fall in the price of those same commodities. Sound familiar? The parallels with today’s developing world debt crisis are stark, and looking back at how the 1980s crisis arose and how it was dealt with, there are worrying signs that very little has been learned despite repeated calls by Eurodad and other civil society organisations for a comprehensive, UN-backed debt workout mechanism. A crisis begins On 12 August 1982, Mexican ...

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Economic reform must not be an excuse for undermining human rights

Mark Perera

31 Jul 2017 16:37:51

Earlier this year, the UN Human Rights Council asked the Independent Expert on debt and human rights to develop guiding principles on human rights impact assessments (HRIAs) for economic reform policies. These principles will aim to provide states and international financial institutions, in particular, with guidance on how to identify the harmful impacts of structural adjustment and austerity measures. Equipped with the findings from HRIAs, decision-makers should take action to prioritise their obligations under international law and safeguard human rights. Now Eurodad has written to the Independent Expert setting out its views on what the key elements of these HRIAs should be, in order to guarantee they put the needs of citizens at the forefront of relevant economic decision-making. Looming ...

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The OECD DAC’s proposed aid rules: a worse crunch still to come?

Polly Meeks

17 Jul 2017 13:18:05

Three months ago, we blogged that it could be crunch time for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Development Assistance Committee (OECD DAC)’s rules on aid. These are the rules that decide how much ‘aid credit’ donors have earned, and hence how they measure up against the UN target that aid should account for at least 0.7% of national income.  When we posted that blog, DAC members had been given a deadline of 26 April to decide on the new rules, which would allow them to report more support for private sector actors in Southern countries as Official Development Assistance (ODA). We were concerned that the DAC was rushing into far-reaching changes, without having built in basic safeguards to protect the core purpose of ODA – poverty reduction. So where do ...

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Eurodad International Conference 2017: Alternative Policies for a Sustainable World

Eurodad

14 Jul 2017 10:22:47

Nearly 200 people from all over the world participated in the highly successful #EurodadAlternatives17 conference in Den Haag. All the presentations, photos, videos and live-streamed plenary sessions are now available. 

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Hamburg summit: the end of the G20’s days as a “premier forum for international economic cooperation”?

Jesse Griffiths

11 Jul 2017 16:59:06

The strangest aspect of the G20 communiqué, and the part that has dominated media coverage, is the section on the Paris climate agreement.  The strangeness arises not because of the topic – the G20 has always played second fiddle to the UN on climate issues – but because, for the first time, a whole paragraph is devoted solely to one member, the USA, explaining why it doesn’t agree with the others, followed by a paragraph by the others explaining why they will go ahead without the USA anyway, including through agreeing a “G19” action plan on energy and climate for growth.   The climate change issue is a jarring symbol of the G20’s difficulty in reaching agreement. However, the Trump administration’s ‘America first’ stance and resulting lack ...

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The OECD DAC Senior Level Meeting and the long road to inclusion for civil society

Eurodad, Erin Palomares, Julie Seghers

19 Jun 2017 13:03:36

As members of the Reality of Aid network, which brings together Southern and Northern civil society groups spanning some 17 time zones, we are no strangers to the challenges of convening inclusive meetings about the need for more and better aid. The “lost connection” icon on trans-continental conference calls is a familiar, if frustrating, part of our lives, as it will be for many of you.   But when it comes to convening meetings with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee (OECD DAC), there was until recently an even greater obstacle to communication: we just weren’t invited. That’s why we were so pleased when the DAC said it planned to engage more systematically with stakeholders such as civil society – a move spearheaded ...

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World Environment Day: a good time to reflect on unintended consequences

Martin Atkin

04 Jun 2017 22:15:36

Few would disagree with protecting our fragile and increasingly under-pressure environment, nor with the joys of getting back to nature - especially since more than half of us are now urban dwellers. This year’s World Environment Day urges us to reconnect to the natural world around us, suggesting a stroll in the park or a day on the beach - if you are lucky enough to live near one. As the organisers point out, we are all part of nature and we all intimately depend on it. The call to reconnect with nature will, however, have a hollow ring for countless people in developing countries whose own natural resources and livelihoods have been put at risk by harmful business practices and investments. You don’t have to look far to find examples of communities and ecosystems suffering from the ...