Debt Sustainability

Policy Brief 60, May 2019

Exploding Public and Private Debt, Declining ODA and FDI, Lower World GDP and Trade Growth—Developing Countries Facing a Conundrum

Recently international institutions repeatedly cut the projections for world gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 2019, revealed further worsened accumulation of debt, reported declining official development assistance (ODA), highlighted consecutive drops of foreign direct investment (FDI) flows and showed decelerated international trade and intensified trade tension. A closer examination of the performance of developing countries in these datasets shows clearly the economic conundrum that developing countries are facing. The most dangerous sign is the rising levels of public and private debt, and debt sustainability challenges for developing countries. It is worrisome that over 40 percent of low income countries are facing a high risk of debt distress or are in debt distress. The cloudy patches over the world economy are gathering together and getting darker. It seems a storm is coming soon for those developing countries which are facing a combination of weak economic fundamentals. Yet, there seems to be limited room for policy makers to take actions as downward pressure is coming from different directions at the same time and creating constraints which would make policy measures ineffective or feeble. In some cases, policy tools used to limit negative effects of one problem could trigger negative impact on other problem(s) in hand.

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South Centre Quarterly Report, October-December 2018

South Centre Quarterly Report, 1 October to 31 December 2018

This report summarizes the programmatic activities of the South Centre during the period 1st October to 31 December 2018. It is intended to provide information, organized by Program and themes, about recent developments in the areas covered by the South Centre’s Work Program and publications made and meetings organized or co-organized by the Centre to examine particular issues or to provide analytical support for international negotiations taking place in various fora. It also informs about external conferences and other meetings where the Centre has participated.

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South Centre Quarterly Report, July-September 2018

South Centre Quarterly Report, 1 July to 30 September 2018

This report summarizes the programmatic activities of the South Centre during the period 1 July to 30 September 2018. It is intended to provide information, organized by Program and themes, about recent developments in the areas covered by the South Centre’s Work Program and publications and meetings organized or co-organized by the Centre to examine particular issues or to provide analytical support for international negotiations taking place in various fora. It also informs about external conferences and other meetings where the Centre has participated.

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Policy Brief 47, June 2018

Renewed crises in emerging economies and the IMF ‒ Muddling through again?

As recognised by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the global financial safety net including international reserves, Fund resources, bilateral swap arrangements, regional financing arrangements is “fragmented with uneven coverage” and “too costly, unreliable and conducive to moral hazard”.  Given the aversion of emerging economies to the IMF and unilateral debt standstills and exchange controls, the next crisis is likely to be even messier than the previous ones.  Some countries may seek and succeed in getting bilateral support from China or some reserve-currency countries according to their political stance and affiliation.  In such cases, crisis intervention would become even more politicised than in the past and a lot less reliant on multilateral arrangements.  By failing to establish an orderly and equitable system of crisis resolution, the IMF may very well find its role significantly diminished in the management of the next bout of crises in emerging economies.  In other words, multilateralism, however imperfect, could face another blow in the sphere of finance after trade.

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Investment Policy Brief 10, February 2018

How international investment agreements have made debt restructuring even more difficult and costly

International investment and trade agreements are legally binding international treaties which give investors an additional layer of legal protection on top of the host country law and contract law.  However, little efforts have been made in ironing out the interface between these different laws and treaties. Inconsistencies and even contradictions have emerged in dispute settlement decisions, sometimes at the expense of public good, sovereignty and financial and economic stability. An asymmetry seems to exist in the allocation of risks and benefits between investors and recipients of investments. (more…)

Research Paper 83, November 2017

China’s Debt Problem and Rising Systemic Risks: Impact of the global financial crisis and structural problems

The fast expansion of China’s debt, in particular corporate and local government debt, has attracted international attention and has also become a major concern of China’s policy makers. Even though China can tolerate a higher debt level than many other emerging and developing economies owing to the sheer size and other special features of the Chinese economy, systemic risks for financial stability have been rising since the global financial crisis and the cushions built in the past decades to withstand a higher debt level have also been weakened. (more…)

Statement, November 2017

South Centre Statement for the UNCTAD Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Financing for Development

Below is the statement by the South Centre during the first session of the UNCTAD Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Financing for Development (IGE Ffd) held in Geneva on 8-10 November 2017.

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Policy Brief 44, August 2017

Industrialization, inequality and sustainability: What kind of industry policy do we need?

The 2030 Agenda includes as Sustainable Development Goal 9 (SDG 9) the commitment to “build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation”. The entry of this goal into the 2030 Agenda is an achievement for developing countries who have a very diverse situation in terms of population sizes, per capita incomes, economic sizes and structures, political systems, cultures but share the common feature of an underdeveloped industrial sector.Therefore, in order to implement SDG 9 pro-active industry policies are needed that take into account aspects of inequality and sustainability.

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Policy Brief 43, August 2017

The Financial Crisis and the Global South: Impact and Prospects

The world economy has not still recovered from the effects of the financial crisis that began almost a decade ago first in the US and then in Europe.  Policy response to the crisis, the combination of fiscal restraint and ultra-easy monetary policy, has not only failed to bring about a robust recovery but has also aggravated systemic problems in the global economy, notably inequality and chronic demand gap, on the one hand, and financial fragility, on the other. It has generated strong destabilizing spillovers to the Global South.  (more…)

Research Paper 76, May 2017

The Financial Crisis and the Global South: Impact and Prospects

The world economy has not still recovered from the effects of the financial crisis that began almost a decade ago first in the US and then in Europe.  Policy response to the crisis, the combination of fiscal restraint and ultra-easy monetary policy, has not only failed to bring about a robust recovery but has also aggravated systemic problems in the global economy, notably inequality and chronic demand gap, on the one hand, and financial fragility, on the other. (more…)

Research Paper 73, February 2017

Inequality, Financialization and Stagnation

The failure of exceptional monetary measures pursued in response to the financial crisis in advanced economies to achieve a strong recovery has created a widespread concern that these economies suffer from a chronic demand gap and face the prospect of stagnation.  This paper reviews and discusses the alternative views on the causes of the slowdown in accumulation and growth and the policies implemented and proposed to deal with it. (more…)


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