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Is the World Bank weakening its poverty reduction policies?

A leaked draft of the World Bank’s proposed new Safeguard Policies appears to reverse a generation of gains. Despite over two years of input from civil society, project-affected communities, and experts on a wider range of social and environmental issues, the leaked proposal reveals a significant weakening of those standards. The proposed policies, which are up for discussion by the Bank’s board on July 30 ahead of public consultations, are not only at odds with the Bank’s stated goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity, but they also lower the bar for the entire international community.

What NML vs Argentina means for the world

At the end of June, 2014, a New York’s Second District Judge ruled in favour of a hedge und, NML Capital, and against the Republic of Argentina.  The issue at stake was if a hedge fund that bought debt paper three years after a debt restructuring, had or not the right to collect on the same terms as the rest of creditors. The ruling was, yes it has. The problem is that in the original debt restructuring creditors received new instruments with a strong haircut that made the payback possible for Argentina, while the old instruments do not have any debt reduction. In this way, the profitability of the hedge funds in buying, in 2008, those old unwanted instruments of a debt rescheduled in 2005, and unpaid since 2001, will be of 1,600%.

On Money Laundering and Child Migration

The increasingly costly and divisive border crisis is pushing federal investigators to crack down on money-laundering schemes they say are being used to smuggle thousands of Central American children into the United States.

Human Development Report 2014: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience

The 2014 Human Development Report “Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience” - shows that overall global trends in human development are positive. Yet, people at all ages are also facing threats and challenges to their wellbeing, including by natural or human-induced disasters and crises.

Read the report

OECD and its guidelines for automatic exchange of financial information

On Monday, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released detailed guidelines on the common reporting standard for automatic exchange of financial information. The plan inches closer to implementation of a global standard but continues to keep developing countries looking in from the outside.

Honest Accounts? The true story of Africa's Billion Dollar Losses

New research published today by 10 UK and African NGOs reveals Africa is losing $192 billion every year to the rest of the world – almost 6 and a half times the amount of ‘aid’ given back to the continent. This research is the first attempt to calculate Africa’s losses across a wide range of areas. These include: illicit financial flows; profits taken out of the continent by multinational companies; debt payments; brain drain of skilled workers; illegal logging and fishing and the costs incurred as a result of climate change.

Read the report

On the unreliability of poverty data

MDG 1 has been met in 2010. Extreme poverty in developing countries was halved in twenty years! This is the statistical reality, but we know that there has been little improvement for people in Sub-Saharan Africa. According to official World Bank statistics, extreme poverty in SSA still hurts 413 million people, more than twice the number of 1981 and 50 % more than in 1990. Even proportionally, extreme poverty was only reduced from 51,45 in 1981 to 48 % in 2010.

The Dilution of Development Aid?

Development aid is being redefined. Before the new UN Development Goals (Post-2015 Agenda) can be determined, the industrialized countries of the OECD wish to redefine which financial flows count as development aid.

The Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the OECD has been measuring financial flows from its members to developing countries since the 1960s. The data, compiled every year, provides information about which donor country invests how much in which developing country and in what development sector. In essence, all grants (see glossary below) and concessional loans that go towards the economic and social development are recognized as Official Development Assistance (ODA). In 1970, the United Nations General Assembly agreed for the first time that industrialized countries would earmark 0.7% of their annual gross national income as ODA. This goal has been repeatedly reaffirmed, but so far has been attained by just five of the 28 DAC donor countries (Denmark, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom).

International Reform Activists Dissatisfied by BRICS Bank

The creation of BRICS’ (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) own financial institutions was “a disappointment” for activists from the five countries, meeting in this northeastern Brazilian city after the group’s leaders concluded their sixth annual summit here.

Conditionally yours: Rising IMF Conditionality

IMF loans are provided through a variety of concessional and non-concessional facilities. The rationale behind IMF conditionality is that countries in fiscal crisis should only receive loans from the IMF if they reform their policies – the precise agreed reforms and macroeconomic targets are set out in the conditions attached to the loans. In practice, the IMF is heavily involved in drafting programme documents and the design of the conditions attached. For example, the IMF’s own Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) review in 2007 found that 84 per cent of Fund staff surveyed recognise that the first draft of the Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies, which sets out the terms of the loan and conditions, was drafted by IMF staff, and there is no evidence that this has changed significantly since 2008.

The Return of Exernal Debt

In recent weeks the external debt issue has returned to the limelight of finance and international politics, due to a ruling of the Supreme Court of the United States, which has emitted a resolution against the government of Argentina. This decision highlights a profound dilemma that exists between national sovereignty and financial globalization. When a government places a debt in international markets, it offers guarantees of payment that commit their taxpayers to pay up in the middle or the long term. Nevertheless, by selling public bonds these become private assets that in certain circumstances can become the object of gigantic speculation which in turn can unleash bankruptcy in the debtor States.

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