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Last year the World Bank adopted a new “cascade” approach that intended to maximise finance for development by prioritising private solutions wherever possible. In what world would this “cascade” algorithm make sense? Without a good answer to that question, the cascade risks looking like ideology rather than sound development finance advice.
Since the 2015 financing for development agreement, donor governments and their development finance institutions have all been singing from the same hymn sheet: we must do more to mobilize private investment. Here I will argue that setting leverage targets in isolation might not get us what we want: more investment in developing countries. Overall investment volumes in chosen markets may make a better target, but any incentives must be soft to minimize the temptation to put public money where it is not needed.