Covering the 2017 annual meetings of IMF & World Bank

We assisted with the coverage by the magazine GlobalMarkets of the annual meetings of the IMF and World bank that were held in October 2017 in Washington DC. GlobalMarkets is the new name for the magazine Emerging Markets that has covered the meetings of all the multilateral banks for a quarter of a century.

We wrote a number of features analysing key issues that came up at the meetings of the finance ministers and central bankers of the 187 member countries. Two of the features looking at the outlook for the two institutions: the first examined the new strategy of World Bank President Jim Yong Kim to become a catalyst for private finance here; and the second looked at the role that the IMF should play after the recent crises here.

We supported these with on the capiral increase based on a question to Mr Kim (here), an interview with WB vice president Axel van Trotsenburg on funding for the poorest countries (here), and a warning byb a senior WB economist on corporate debt in emerging economies (here).We also contributed a review of the racy account of a life in banking and Buddhism by Michael Dobbs-Higginson here.


Profile of Professor Jeffrey Sachs; and a radical shift in World Bank policy

As part of our contributions to EMEA Finance magazine, we produced two articles for their Summer 2017 edition. The first was a profile of Jeffrey Sachs, the Columbia University economics professors and lifelong campaigner on poverty and climate change. The profile was based on his new book, Building the New American Economy, and a talk he gave in London. Sachs made clear his anger at and concern over the agenda put forward by US President Donald Trump. He is worried that Trump’s  attitude towards climate change and protectionism is emblematic of a retreat away from the US’s role as a major international power in terms of trade and security. “We have moved to a multi-polar world but America has an incoherent response to this.” He does strike a positive note, however, saying: “We are in the middle of really profound change. If we are smart and we are lucky we will get to something very good. The crises are real and serious but are manageable.” The article is here.

Jim Yong Kim, the President of the World Bank, made a rare visit to London – public visits tend to be in emerging and developing countries. He set out a radical agenda for his second term that will move it away from direct funding towards de-risking projects in Africa to make them more attractive to private capital. Rather than provide direct funding as a first response, the Bank will use its resources to “crowd in” the private sector. Kim said that with trillions of dollars “sitting on the sidelines, earning little interest”, the Bank was determined to mobilise investors looking for better opportunities to help it meet the rising aspirations across the developing world. As he says: “We need to have a different and difficult conversation about how we approach development finance.”

Reporting on ADB and EBRD annual meetings

We contributed to the editing of the daily coverage of the annual meetings of the Asian Development Bank and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development for GlobalMarkets. Both meetings took place in May 2017 and included news, interviews, features analysis. Phil Thornton wrote an article based on an interview with EBRD President Suma Chakrabarti, and contributed to articles on the impact of withdrawal of ECB monetary stimulus, and views by eastern European and central Asian leaders on the election of Emmanuel Macros as France’s president.

Climate change, green power, and longevity for EMEAfinance

Phil Thornton researched and wrote three detailed features for the 2017 winter edition of the EMEAfinance magazine.

The cover story was an analysis on the impacts for businesses and government sin emerging markets of the agreement on climate change signed in Paris in Deceber 2015. He spoke to a number of senior figures at the a business summit that was part of the COP22 conference in Marrakesh in November 2016. The election of Donald Trump cast a shadow over the summit. However, experts told him that a collective commitment to build on the momentum of the last two decades meant further innovation in tackling global warming was inevitable. The story is here.

While in Marrakesh Phil had an indepth interview with Paddy Padmanathan, President and CEO of ACWA Power. Under his leadership ACWA Power has built up its share of renewables from zero to 15%. He reveals how he would like to see a carbon price of $100 a tonne, how governments should set out the amount of energy they intend to procure over the next five years and the energy mix they envisage, and the challenge of the industry is to go beyond the successes in photovoltaic (PV) and wind power and develop the renewable technologies that will put control of global warning in sight. The interview is here.

Phil also met a number of senior figures who are studying or investing in products related to the growing longevity crisis that is threatening Europe and particularly countries in the east of the continent. They urged policymakers in emerging economies to learn lessons from developed countries to tackle the issue before it hits their economies. The story is here.

Articles on Cyprus’ new dawn for The Times

We researched and wrote two of articles for a 12-page supplement on the economy of Cyprus published by The Times in January 2016. We looked at the outlook for the economy four years after it suffered a major economic recession and a year after it succeeded in paying off its creditors who bailed it out. It included the views of senior ministers in the Cypriot government and banking leaders who highlighted how the island had made a remarkable recovery by taking tough decisive action especially in comparison with the woes still afflicting Greece. The other article looked at the plans by the Bank of Cyprus, the largest institution on the island that was itself bailed out, for the future under its CEO John Hourican who spoke with the paper for the article. The supplement can be found here.

Ten years of Clarity Economics

It is 10 years since Phil Thornton left The Independent newspaper on 12 January 2007 to set up Clarity Economics. Since then he has been engaged in a mix of consultancy, report writing, and journalism all centered around the idea of converting the technical language used in business, finance, and economics into plain English that is accessible by a wider range of people.

Clients of Clarity Economics have included business organisations such as the CBI, ABI, Freshfields, Linklaters, and GSK. Academic clients have included the Economic and Social Research Council, the Booth School of Business at Chicago University, the London School of Economics, the Systemic Research Centre at the LSE and the University of Cambridge. the journalism has been featured in publications such as The Times, The Guardian, Global Markets, Financial Director and Procurement Leaders. Phil has also worked for companies that provide editorial content for companies and universities such as St James’s House and Financial Editions.

The last 10 years have covered almost exactly the period since the onset of the global financial recession in August 2007 and two UK elections while also encompassing major events such as the decision by British voters to leave the EU and the election of Donald Trump. It is highly likely that the next decade will be as volatile and challenging as the last and Clarity Economics looks forward to assisting clients with their mission to convey their messages in plain, clear English

Contribution to Financial Times 2017 survey

We were asked by the Financial Times to contribute our views on a range of issues with the potential to affect the UK economy during 2017. These included eight specific areas including growth, inflation, Brexit and immigration. Overall we predicted that growth would slow sharply, that inflation would rise and the negative impact from Brexit had been postponed rather than cancelled. On growth we said: “Growth is likely to fall to perhaps half the pace in 2016. Growth has been stronger than expected since the Brexit vote so numbers for 2016 and 2017 will be higher than expected. However a delayed fall in business investment and in consumer spending will be exacerbated by rising unemployment and falling real wages as inflation picks up, thus slower growth.”

The report which has links to individual survey responses can be found here.