Finance

Analysis

Our World in 2021

Covid-19: The World Bank, the IMF and the path towards an unequal recovery

2 March 2022 | Annual report (BWP)

As was the case in 2020, 2021 was shaped by the catastrophic health, social and economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, which by the end of the year had claimed more than 5.3 million lives globally. It also resulted in an additional 97 million people living on less than $1.90 per day and 163 million more people living on less than $5.50 a day. Tragically, 2021 was also categorised by a depressingly familiar chasm between the hopeful discourse of international solidarity and multilateral cooperation and the perpetuation of unjust and inequitable international governance structures and policies. While the Bank stressed the need for a recovery based on Green, Resilient and Inclusive Development and the IMF highlighted its concerns about the divergent paths of the global recovery in 2021, both continued to support largely unreformed policies anchored on familiar calls for private sector-friendly reforms intended to ‘crowd-in’ private capital. The geopolitical context of the Covid-19 recovery became increasingly complicated, as the potential positive impact of a new US administration more committed to multilateralism, if not a radical reform of it, was diminished by increasing tensions between the US, China, and other G20 powers.

The year also witnessed the continued exacerbation of pre-existing inequalities, with the World Inequality Lab’s 2022 Global Inequality Report stressing that “contemporary global inequalities are close to early 20th century levels, at the peak of Western imperialism.” Refuting the private sector-led recovery policies strongly promulgated by the IMF and World Bank and many high-income countries, the report underscored that, “Income and wealth inequalities have been on the rise…since the 1980s, following…deregulation and liberalization programs…[confirming] that inequality is…a political choice.”

While the UN Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) 2021 Trade and Development Report highlighted that the scale of government support in high-income countries in response to the pandemic “broke new ground”, it stressed that urgent reforms remain hostage to a lack of political will in these countries. This is exemplified by the World Bank, IMF and G20’s continued refusal to support the necessary structural and policy changes to enable most middle- and low-income countries to achieve a just recovery from the pandemic. This has worsened a context of increased debt crises, constrained fiscal space, tightening monetary policies in high-income countries and continued inequitable access to vaccines. Drawing disturbing parallels with the international response to the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, UNCTAD noted that promises of necessary reforms “were quickly abandoned in the face of resistance from the winners of hyperglobalization.”

Instead of re-evaluating the consequences of their orthodox policy prescriptions of austerity, privatisation and market-led reforms in the light of the overwhelming evidence that they contributed to worsening the health and social consequences of the pandemic, the Bank and Fund did little to change course.

A historic $650 billion allocation of the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights and discussions of rechannelling of much-needed resources to middle- and low-income countries struggling to respond to the pandemic and debt burdens also took place last year. That said, the allocation fell well short of the $3 trillion called for by civil society and also failed to meet other demands, such as conditionality- and debt-free arrangements.

One of the year’s few bright spots was the World Bank’s announcement that it would discontinue its much-criticised Doing Business Report, although the Bank announced it would relaunch a revised version of the report in about two years. This was unsurprising, as World Bank President David Malpass made clear the Bank’s intention to continue its push for market-friendly reforms in line with its Maximizing Finance for Development approach despite the pandemic.

The lack of progress on two of the central pillars required for an equitable, just, and green recovery were telling and devastating. On debt, the much-criticised G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative and Common Framework failed to address the problems faced by middle- and low-income countries, while continuing to privilege private sector creditors, who extracted urgently needed pandemic response resources from dwindling state budgets. The international community and private sector creditors continued to steadfastly refuse to consider long-standing civil society demands for a human rights-based reform to the international debt architecture inclusive of an independent debt workout mechanism.

On vaccination, alarmingly, the Bank and Fund continued to ignore calls from civil society and many of their shareholders to support the intellectual property waiver for the production of Covid-19 vaccines. As the People’s Vaccine alliance stressed, the waiver is essential to address what African leaders call ‘vaccine apartheid’ where high- and upper-middle-income countries continue to absorb the vast majority of vaccines produced globally, as low-income country populations remain largely unprotected.

While the IMF highlighted the equitable nature of its Covid-19 response, it nonetheless continued to profit from surcharges, which UN human rights experts warned violate international human rights laws, and are projected to cost countries most in need of IMF support up to $4 billion by the end of 2022.

The year also witnessed the early replenishment of the International Development Association’s (IDA), the World Bank’s concessional lending arm, 20th round of funding, totalling $93 billion. While additional concessional resources for low-income countries were welcome, civil society remained critical of the process and significant portions of IDA’s programme, including the Private Sector Window, and doubts about whether it is structured to suppor equitable development.


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More background on this issue

Finance

Analysis

2 March 2022 | Annual report (BWP)

Our World in 2021

While the Bank stressed the need for a recovery based on Green, Resilient and Inclusive Development and the IMF highlighted its concerns about the divergent paths of the global recovery in 2021, both continued to support largely unreformed policies.

IFI governance

Background

6 October 2021 | Minutes

IMF surcharges: A necessary tool or counter-productive obstacle to a just and green recovery?

Notes from the Civil Society Policy Forum session on 6 October on the governance and resourcing implications of IMF's surcharges.

Finance

Background

9 December 2021 | Inside the institutions

What are Special Drawing Rights (SDRs)?

This Inside the Institutions looks at the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights, including their history and usage, with a focus on the latest allocation, which accounts for 69 per cent of the SDRs ever disbursed.

Finance

Background

18 April 2016 | Minutes

Global Infrastructure Forum: Perspectives from new development finance institutions

Notes from a side event at the inaugural Global Infrastructure Forum, during the World Bank/IMF 2016 spring meetings, discussing the role of the new development finance institutions, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the New Development Bank.

IFI governance

Background

4 October 2021 | Minutes

Making the Most of Special Drawing Rights: Approaches to maximise impact and create a sustainable and just recovery

Notes from the Civil Society Policy Forum session on 4 October on the ways to maximise the impacts of the recent allocation of $650 billion Special Drawing Rights.

Finance

Background

5 April 2017 | FAQ

Who pays for the Fund and the Bank?

This Inside the Institutions looks at the funds available to the IMF and the World Bank, including the origins of IBRD and IFC resources and an overview of the most recent changes in the IMF and IDA’s funding streams and mechanisms.

Finance

Background

14 April 2016 | Minutes

Political economy of structural reforms

Notes from an official event at the IMF/World Bank 2016 spring meetings on the political economy of structural reforms.

Finance

Background

17 June 2015 | Minutes

DFID Financing for Development and infrastructure meeting

Minutes from a meeting with UK NGOs and DFID on Financing for Development and infrastructure.

IFI governance

Background

16 March 2015 | Minutes

UK civil society meeting with UK World Bank Executive Director Gwen Hines

Notes of a meeting with UK World Bank Executive Director Gwen Hines 25 February 2015.

IFI governance

Background

9 October 2014

Financing for development: What actions are needed on debt and illicit capital flows?

Notes of a meeting on financing for development at the World Bank-IMF annual meetings 2014

Finance

Background

30 May 2013 | Minutes

Notes of a meeting with World Bank Managing Director Caroline Anstey

Notes of a meeting with World Bank Managing Director Caroline Anstey

IFI governance

Background

30 May 2013 | Minutes

Civil society meeting with Steve Field, UK IMF Executive Director

Minutes of CSO meeting with Steve Field UK IMF Executive Director, 9 April 2013

IFI governance

Background

24 April 2013 | Minutes

IMF reform in developing country perspective

Notes from IMF 2013 Spring meetings civil society forum event

IFI governance

Background

22 April 2013 | Minutes

From the Arab revolutions to global austerity trends

This session examined issues thrown up by the Arab revolutions, including the fiscal, monetary, tax and investment policies being considered by governments facilitating, or hindering countries in the Arab and other regions in building an inclusive economy and supporting socioeconomic recovery, the impact on public expenditure for the strengthening of education, health, and other social sectors as well as the management of chronic and high unemployment and high food and fuel prices.

Social services

Background

19 April 2013 | Minutes

Leveraging private finance with public money: Positive Innovation? Corporate Welfare?

This event explored how modalities to "leverage" the private sector are beginning to appear in different ways in the World Bank and donors' agenda, and the challenges they pose.

Environment

Background

18 April 2013 | Minutes

CSO meeting with Ms. Ksenia Yudaeva, G20 sherpa, Russian Federation

This event featured a discussion between CSOs and the Russian Federation G20 sherpa covering topics including food & nutrition security, jobs and the post-2015 development agenda.

IFI governance

Background

18 April 2013 | Minutes

After recent court decisions: how can sovereign debt workouts become fair, comprehensive and account

This session examines the challenges which recent court decisions pose to sovereign debt workouts that allow for burden-sharing and take into account the social development needs of debtor countries.

Private Sector

Background

18 April 2013 | Minutes

Discussion on IMF jobs and growth policies

Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) sponsored discussion on macroeconomic policy in the Eurozone, and the challenges to restoring employment and growth.

Private Sector

Background

18 April 2013 | Minutes

What next for the eurozone? Macroeconomic policy and the recession

Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) sponsored discussion on macroeconomic policy in the Eurozone, and the challenges to restoring employment and growth.

Accountability

Background

18 February 2013 | Minutes

UK Civil Society Meeting with Minister of State Rt Hon Alan Duncan MP

This was a meeting on 1 October 2012, between the Minister of State of the UK's Department for International Development (DFID) and civil society representatives, focusing on the World Bank.

IFI governance

Background

13 October 2012 | Minutes

World Bank Inspection Panel at 19: Some Lessons for Safeguard Policy

This panel discussion centered on the possible policy lessons for the Safeguard Review of learning from the emblematic or most frequently registered cases of non-compliance with Bank safeguard policies, particularly project supervision, environmental assessment, and involuntary resettlement.

IFI governance

Background

12 October 2012 | Minutes

Citizen-Led Accountability at the World Bank Group: experiences of independent recourse mechanisms

This session aimed to gather CSO views, suggestions, and concerns on how to improve the current guidelines, including IMF consultation processes on policies, strategies, and Art. IV consultations.

IFI governance

Background

12 October 2012 | Minutes

Facilitating international adjustment through timely debt resolution

This session highlighted the perspectives of finance ministers, policy makers, and academics on the need to ensure timely, effective international adjustment in a manner consistent with sustained global growth and continued adherence to the system of open, dynamic international trade and payments constructed over the past 65 years.

Rights

Background

12 October 2012 | Minutes

World Bank safeguard review and CSOs approaches in their engagement

Interaction between the Bank and CSOs on the approach paper through this panel provided an opportunity for the Bank and CSOs to highlight areas of importance and provide input about the direction of the safeguard review.

Accountability

Background

11 October 2012 | Minutes

Global financial regulations and their Impact on major campaigns

This event was a collegial information-sharing and strategy session to explore the linkages between financial regulations and grass roots campaigns.

IFI governance

Background

11 October 2012 | Minutes

From country systems to DPLs: understanding the World Bank's approach to social and environmental ri

This session will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the Bank’s approaches with respect to different financial instruments and evaluate the challenges of ensuring coherence in environmental and social sustainability outcomes across instruments.

Environment

Background

9 October 2012 | Minutes

CSO Roundtable with World Bank executive directors

This was a roundtable discussion between IMF and WBG Executive Directors (EDs) with accredited civil society representatives to promote an exchange of views and discussion on key issues of the 2012 Annual Meeting agenda: global economy, disaster resilience, social and environmental safeguards, and global health.

Finance

Background

20 April 2012 | Minutes

Regulating Global Capital Flows for Development

Seminar at the Brookings Institution on capital flows regulations - 19 April

Accountability

Background

18 April 2012 | Minutes

UK civil society meeting UK IMF Executive Director Alex Gibbs

Notes of a meeting with UK executive director to the IMF Alex Gibbs in April 2012

Accountability

Background

12 October 2011 | Minutes

UK civil society meeting with HM Treasury and UK IMF Executive Director

Notes meeting Alex Gibbs September 2011

Infrastructure

Background

23 September 2011 | Minutes

Scaling up Climate Finance

Notes of meeting, Washington DC, September 22, 2011

IFI governance

Background

23 September 2011 | Minutes

Financial Transaction Tax implementation

Notes of a meeting, Washington DC, 22 September 2011

Finance

Background

13 June 2011 | Inside the institutions

The IFC's approach to international trade finance

Trade finance refers to financing arrangements that support international trade transactions. It is one of the central parts of a new ten-year strategy paper on international trade currently being developed by the World Bank for the period between 2011 and 2021.

Accountability

Background

18 April 2011 | Minutes

IFC and Financial Intermediary Lending

Notes of meeting, Washington DC, April 15, 2011

Environment

Background

15 April 2011 | Minutes

The Green Climate Fund: discussion of principles and design

Notes of meeting, Washington DC, April 15, 2011

Infrastructure

Background

30 November 2010 | Minutes

Private sector investment in energy lending and climate finance

Meeting notes of 'Private sector investment in energy lending and climate finance'

IFI governance

Background

12 October 2010 | Minutes

Held in reserve: can a new approach to monetary policy transform the global economic outlook?

Minutes of an experts seminar held on the sidelines of the 2010 Annual Meetings of the IMF, 7 October 2010

Knowledge

Background

11 October 2010 | Minutes

Post MDG Summit

Notes of the seminar of annual meetings 2010

IFI governance

Background

11 October 2010 | Minutes

Future of the global financial and monetary system

Notes of the seminar of annual meetings 2010

IFI governance

Background

11 October 2010 | Minutes

Global economic governance

Notes of the seminar of annual meetings 2010

Accountability

Background

4 October 2010 | Minutes

Meeting on the World Bank between DFID and UK NGOs

Notes of a meeting between UK civil society and DFID staff.

Accountability

Background

6 April 2010 | Minutes

Meeting between UK civil society and Susanna Moorehead, UK Executive Director to the World Bank

Minutes of a meeting between UK civil society, UK World Bank Executive Director Susanna Moorehead, and DFID staff

Accountability

Background

30 March 2010 | Minutes

Meeting between UK civil society and Alex Gibbs, UK IMF Executive Director

Minutes of a meeting between UK civil society, UK IMF Executive Director Alex Gibbs, and UK Treasury staff

Finance

Background

15 February 2010 | Inside the institutions

IDA replenishment

This year, donor countries will decide on their financial contributions to the World Bank's International Development Association (IDA) for 2011-2014.

IFI governance

Background

5 October 2009 | Minutes

Future of the Global Financial System

Notes of part of a panel debate chaired by Martin Wolf of the Financial Times, Istanbul, 4 October 2009.

IFI governance

Background

4 October 2009 | Minutes

The UN conference and the G20 summit

Minutes from The UN conference and the G20 summit, civil society policy forum discussion on 3 October 2009. Istanbul, Turkey

IFI governance

Background

4 October 2009 | Minutes

Critical debate on the World Bank and IMF

Summary of a presentation made by Professor Anwar Shaikh, the New School for Social Research, on "Monetary Policy and the Global Crisis"

IFI governance

Background

4 October 2009 | Minutes

Global economic governance roundtable

Summary of a discussion with German government representatives, Jomo KS of the UN and civil society organisations.

IFI governance

Background

23 April 2009 | Minutes

G20 Summit and impacts on developing countries

Summary of IMF and World Bank presentations and the discussion afterwards

IFI governance

Background

1 April 2009 | Inside the institutions

The IMF's special drawing rights (SDRs)

The special drawing right (SDR) is an international reserve asset, created by the IMF in 1969 to supplement the existing official reserves of member countries.

Finance

Background

16 February 2009 | Inside the institutions

Who pays for the Fund and the Bank?

The IMF and the World Bank derive their income mainly from their lending operations, charging borrowing countries, and from their investments in financial markets.

Environment

Background

27 November 2008 | Inside the institutions

International financial architecture

National and international financial bodies frequently overlap both in function and membership. Below are some of the main regulatory or influential bodies within the financial system. In most, the IMF is a participant, and in some, a central player.

Conditionality

Background

10 November 2008 | Minutes

Minutes from Video conference of UK NGOs with UK Executive Director to the IMF

Meeting exploring the IMF

Conditionality

Background

11 October 2008 | Minutes

Combating tax flight: ending evasion and reducing avoidance

Norway, Germany, IMF, WOrld Bank and experts discuss tackling tax evasion and capital flight.

IFI governance

Background

1 February 2008 | Inside the institutions

The IFIs and Islamic finance

The World Bank Group and the IMF have become more involved in assistance to and oversight of Islamic financial institutions.

Finance

Background

4 December 2007 | Inside the institutions

The IMF and financial sector reform

While the World Bank has done a lot of work on financial sector reform, the IMF is also a key actor. Since facing criticism over its lack of understanding of financial markets in the wake of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the IMF has significantly increased its capacity for analysis of the financial sector.

IFI governance

Background

27 April 2007 | Minutes

European CSO meeting with European IMF EDs

Incomplete minutes of European CSO meeting with European IMF EDs, 13 April 2007

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Analysis

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News

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18 December 2023 | Letters

Finance

Analysis

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IFI governance

Analysis

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The Group of 20 (G20) communiqué was published on 13 October. It focused on the consequences of the evolving debt situation, reaffirmed support for the much-criticised Common Framework and was silent on debt relief. The section on MDB reform meanwhile stressed ‘bigger’ rather than ‘better’ banks.

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Finance

News

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Finance

News

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