Focus on World Bank and Bahrain for EMEA Finance

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.

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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.

Reporting live from the IMF/World Bank

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