Systemic reform of the international debt architecture is yet to start
By Yuefen Li
The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the reform of the international debt architecture to the policy agenda. Up to now policy measures to address the crushing debt burden of developing countries have focused on boosting time bound liquidity provision, which is insufficient in amount and restrictive in scope as debt-ridden and pandemic struck middle-income countries have not been covered. Even the implementation of these policy measures has been hindered by existing systemic problems. The reform of the debt architecture is yet to start. However, complacency seems to emerge. The risk of “wasting” the crisis should be avoided.
Exploding Public and Private Debt, Declining ODA and FDI, Lower World GDP and Trade Growth—Developing Countries Facing a Conundrum
By Yuefen LI
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.