Tracking government debt is hard. Banishing secrecy clauses would make it far easier.

With a few taps on a smartphone, I can check the weather, send messages to friendsMarcello_GIF_700kbps around the world, review my bank account, or even order food. But even in our hyper-connected, data-driven world, it’s exceedingly difficult to pin down government debt – even for researchers with advanced skills and access to big databases. And that’s not for lack of trying.

“Hidden debt” crops up far too frequently and often during or just before a crisis, creating a nasty surprise.  Such was the case in 2016, when the revelation of previously undisclosed debt derailed Mozambique’s development agenda, tainted its reputation as a growth and investment star, and sent its financial sector into crisis. More recently, Chad and Zambia’s debt restructuring negotiations were delayed when their respective debt offices couldn’t produce current and complete records of what was owed (and to whom).

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A Conversation with David Malpass and Masood Ahmed

On May 26th 2022, World Bank Group’s President, David Malpass, and Masood Ahmed, President of the Center for Global Development, will hold a conversation about the array of global shocks, their impact on the most vulnerable communities—and the response they urgently demand.

From conflict to COVID to climate change, overlapping crises have created unprecedented challenges for developing countries. Debt vulnerabilities, rising inflation, higher energy prices and food insecurity are threatening to reverse development gains. These growing challenges require decisive policy action and sustained international cooperation on multiple fronts to ensure economic conditions improve in all countries, especially the poorest.  David Malpass and Masood Ahmed will exchange views on macroeconomic and political instability; and what is required for economic transformation.

The Way Forward is an occasional series of in-depth discussions on development challenges and innovative solutions, hosted by World Bank Group David Malpass.

May 26th, 10:00 AM EDT (local time)

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What will it take to achieve COVID-19 containment and economic revival?

As countries grapple with the impact of COVID-19, policy makers are seeking effective,vietnam balanced solutions to address both public health and economic recovery challenges. To understand which approaches have been successful and how these might help other countries and regions, policy makers from Colombia, Ghana, South Africa, Vietnam, and Italy’s Veneto region shared with us their stories of response and recovery.

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Debt Service Suspension Initiative could save countries around $12 billion

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, developing economies have suffered unprecedented capital outflows. The World Bank Group has created a virtual one-stop for the latest information about Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI). It highlights the potential savings for each eligible country—both in dollar terms and as a percentage of GDP. Explore the data!

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Broad, fast action to save lives and help countries rebuild

Axel van Trotsenburg|

The COVID-19 pandemic is uncharted territory for every country in the world. It has unleashed both a global health emergency and an unprecedented economic crisis of historic magnitude. Even as the coronavirus continues to spread, the World Bank estimates that, between 2019 and 2020, the global economy will shrink by $4.2 trillion dollars.  That is substantially bigger than South Asia’s entire regional economy (which is about $3.5 trillion), and as if we somehow wiped both Germany and Belgium off the economic map. Worse still, the fall from where we expected to be in 2021 if COVID-19 hadn’t hit is closer to $7.5 trillion dollars—equivalent to 40% of the entire U.S. economy, as well as larger than the combined GDP of Latin America and the Caribbean plus the Middle East and North Africa.

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Debt Report 2020 Edition I

For the first time, the Debt team at the World Bank Development Economics Data Group image(DECDG) will publish online a new series of Debt Reports, at regular intervals, over the course of the year. Their aim is to provide users with analyses of evolving trends and development related to external debt and public debt in individual countries and regional groups, with primary emphasis on low- and middle-income countries, and to keep users abreast of debt-related issues and initiatives.

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To balance debt and development, transparency and purpose are key

Unsustainable debt. Debt distress. Debt trap. These dire terms are once again back in theindex headlines, just a decade after the global financial crisis of 2008-2009.

In the past five years alone, public debt in the poorest countries has increased from 36 percent of GDP to 51 percent of GDP.  In addition, debt-service ratios in some countries are rising at an alarming pace, threatening countries’ ability to invest in much-needed infrastructure, education, health and many other needs crucial for lifting their citizens out of poverty and achieving the international community’s Sustainable Development Goals by their 2030 deadline.

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