The imminent departure of Donald Trump from the White House has raised the question of the role that Joe Biden will play as the leader of the single largest shareholder in the multilateral financial institutions. These include the International Monetary Fund, World Bank Group and the regional development banks. Leading analysts told me there are grounds for optimism over enhanced debt relief for the poorest countries, recapitalisation of many IFIs and further action on the climate change agenda. The article is here.
Phil had two articles published in the latest edition of EMEA Finance, the magazine and website covering financial issues across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
One was a profile of the chief economist at the World Bank, Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg, who has stepped down temporarily from her chair at Yale University to head up the analysis at the world’s largest multilateral lender. She is very focused on inequality and how a shift towards deglobalisation could actually make conditions worse in emerging markets that depend on trade for wealth and wellbeing. The profile is here.
The same issue carried a news story on the announcement by the UK government that it will print a second sovereign Islamic bond in the new years following the success of its £400m issue a few years. John Glen, the economic secretary to the Treasury, insists: “Islamic finance is here to stay. It is not a passing flash in the pan but a resilient and buoyant sector of its own.” The story is here.
Phil took part in an online course offered by the World Bank Group, called Unlocking Investment and Finance in Emerging Markets and Developing Economies (EMDEs). The four-week course involved reading a large numbers of articles and book chapters as well as watching a series of videos.
The course looked at: an overview of Investment and Finance in EMDEs; public finance strategies to unlock finance and investment; unlocking private finance and investment; and building robust financial markets and institutions. It included two multiple choice tests, a brief assignment, and amore detailed project. Phil received an overall score of 88% which led to a distinction cerficate.
The certificate is here
Phil secured an interview with Ziad Hayek, the prospectice candidate for the presidency of the World Bank in Global Capital magazine. The interview took place while Hayek was in Washington DC to lobby bank executive directors after Lebanon decided to pull his candidacy. He was very explicit in his critisisms of the proces, his hopes or being nominated and his agenda for the bank if he were to win. He is determined to focus on climate change, migration and maximising finance for development. The article is here.
Phil also write two other stories for that edition: one of the creation of a new post to coordinate media communications for the World Bank in Europshareholderlder countries (here) and another on a report on the dangers of gender imbalance on the boards of private equity and hedge funds (here).
Phil wrote two features for EMEA Finance magazine following the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Indonesia in October 2018. The first looked at how it was small open-economy states that were taking the brunt of the US/China trade and diplomatic disputes.Leading economists talked about how the impact on second tier supply chains and a contraction in demand could harm those economies most vulnerable to sudden shocks. The feature is here.
The second feature was a profile of Tarek Amer, Governor of the Central of Egypt who gave a keynote talk at the IMF meetings. Egypt has become the poster child of IMF interventions as the $12 billion bail-out offered by the Fund has helped turn the economy around, reducing inflation, boosting growth and reducing the country’s external and budget deficits. He talks about his experience of driving through tough policy reforms and of working with the IMF. The profile is here.
Phil wrote a number of stories about the World Bank for the London financial magazine Global Capital during a tumultuous week that saw the president of the world’s largest development lender quit in a shock move. Jim Yong Kim announced he would step down as bank head on 1 February, three years ahead of schedule, to take a role as partner of a private infrastructure firm.
Global Capital ran an instant reaction story on the day he quit which was followed by a longer analysis of the reasons why he might have left, controversry over taking a private sector job in the same area as the bank, and speculation over whether Donald Trump would be able to impose his choice of replecemernt. Phil also covered a report by the Center for Global Development highlighting strong lending to China despite US pressure to issue more targetted loans
Phil Thornton contributed two articles to the latest edition of the EMEA Finance magazine out in February 2018. The first was based on a talk with Kristina Georgieva, the new chief exucirve of the World Bank. At the heart of her agenda is achieving the multilateral’s goals of eliminating extreme poverty by 2030 and boosting shared prosperity. Georgieva, who was EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid, sees her mission as turning this instrument into an “incentive for people to do the right thing”. “If a country has a lend-management policy for forestry to be protected, not to be chopped down, then the insurance premium ought to have a discount. As a donor, as a finance community, we are funding this discount.” The other angle is to focus on middle income countries — where 50 per cent of poor people still live — and especially in higher-risk economies where the task is to make sure that jobs are created. The article is here.
The second article was an analysis of the success that Bahrain has had in attracting foreign investment to the small island kingdom. We looked at how Bahrain’s economic development board has set out a strategy to attract foreign direct investment and SMEs that will both create jobs and help the Kingdom exploit modern technologies.EDB managing director Simon Galpin set out why Bahrain was investing in a whole raft of projects valued at over £32bn, is equivalent to oits annual GDP. These include the expansion of the airport, the US$5bn upgrading of all the major oil refineries in Bahrain, the enlargement of the Alba aluminium smelter to make it the largest in the world, and a second direct connection to the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia for both road and rail to connect to Saudi Arabia and complement the existing King Fahd Causeway. The second factor is what Galpin calls “soft infrastructure” — reforms of business regulations that allows 100% foreign ownership and a revision of insolvency laws aimed at fostering innovation and entrepreneurship by modernising and streamlining the bankruptcy procedures.“ The third trend, which is connected to the regulatory overhaul, is the decision by the Central Bank of Bahrain to introduce the first “regulatory sandbox”. The article is here.
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.
We were in Washington DC for the week of 6 October to cover the annual 2014 meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank for Emerging Markets newspaper at a time of mounting concern over the state of the economy and the impact of the conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine and the terrible Ebola outbreak.
We were involved in planning the newspaper’s coverage, putting together the daily news list, working with reporters as well as carrying out live reporting.
We looked in detail at the role of relevance of the IMF 10 years after it was written off as irrelevant and asked what’s its role should be in what MD Christine Lagarde has called a “new mediocre” era of growth. The feature is here.
We also looked at the World Bank on its 70th birthday and asked what President Jim Kim should do to ensure that the bank remained relevant in an increasingly crowded development arena. The feature is here.
We spoke with World Bank chief economist Kaushik Basu about the economic impact of the outbreak of Ebola as the death toll broke the 4,000 barrier during the week. The story is here. We also spoke with World Bank climate envoy Rachel Kyte and discussed her strategy of working with businesses in countries where there ‘constraints’ on political leadership. The story is here.
We hope to be covering the 2015 meetings that will be held in Lima, Peru