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.
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…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
On the Existence of Systemic Issues and their Policy Implications
Systemic issues are issues that arise from the built-in features of the global system and the impact of the interaction of its parts; as implied in the chapter title in the Monterrey Consensus, it pertains to the coherence and consistency of the monetary, finance and trade systems. Systemic issues point at the weak points in the whole global financial “architecture,” the international structures and mechanisms that are beyond the control of individual countries. Systemic issues are a particular concern to developing countries, which have experienced their greatest development reversals during international payments crises. (more…)
South Centre Presentation to the Special Event of the Second Committee of the UN General Assembly
UNCTAD organized a special event of the Second Committee of the United Nations General Assembly on 26 October 2016 in New York on “SOVEREIGN DEBT RESTRUCTURINGS: Lessons learned from legislative steps taken by certain countries and other appropriate action to reduce the vulnerability of sovereigns to holdout creditors”. Ms. Yuefen Li, Special Advisor on Economics and Development Finance of the South Centre, spoke as a panelist and alerted the UN Member States of the current legislative challenges facing the sovereigns when it comes to the need for sovereign debt restructuring including the impact of the plurilateral and bilateral trade and investment agreements.
Debt Dynamics in China – Serious problems but an imminent crisis is unlikely
Recently, there have been many articles in the international media predicting that China is facing an imminent financial/debt crisis worse than the 2008 US sub-prime crash. However, a closer look at the debt dynamics in China highlights some fundamental differences be-tween the debt situation of the source country of the 2008 global financial crisis and that of China. (more…)
This policy brief is based on the working paper “The Decade of Adjustment: A Review of Austerity Trends 2010-2020 in 187 Countries” by Isabel Ortiz, Matthew Cummins, Jeronim Capaldo and Kalaivani Karunanethy, published by (more…)
The Decade of Adjustment: A Review of Austerity Trends 2010-2020 in 187 Countries
By Isabel Ortiz, Matthew Cummins, Jeronim Capaldo, Kalaivani Karunanethy. Geneva: ILO, IPD Columbia University and the South Centre.
This paper: (i) examines the latest IMF government spending projections for 187 countries between 2005 and 2020; (ii) reviews 616 IMF country reports in 183 countries to identify the main adjustment measures considered by governments in both high-income and developing countries; (iii) applies the United Nations Global Policy Model to simulate (more…)
Financing for Development Conference 2015: A View from the South
On 19 July 2014 the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations agreed on a draft of a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals, taking the first steps toward a renewed development agenda for after 2015. The effort to agree on the SDGs was the follow up to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), whose end-date is 2015. Aside from the 17 specific goals, the draft SDGs included 169 associated targets. (more…)