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International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and particularly the relationship between the IFIs and the United States.
Scott Morris is a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development and director of the US Development Policy Initiative. In addition to managing the center’s work on US development policy, his research addresses development finance issues, debt policy, governance issues at international financial institutions like the World Bank and IMF, and China’s role as a development actor.
Morris served as deputy assistant secretary for development finance and debt at the US Treasury Department during the first term of the Obama Administration. In that capacity, he led US engagement with the multilateral development bank, as well as US participation in the Paris Club of official creditors. He also represented the US government in the G-20’s Development Working Group and was the Treasury’s “+1” on the board of the Millennium Challenge Corporation. During his time at Treasury, Morris led negotiations for four general capital increases at the multilateral development banks and replenishments of the International Development Association (IDA), Asian Development Fund, and African Development Fund.
Morris was a senior staff member on the Financial Services Committee in the US House of Representatives, where he was responsible for the Committee’s international policy issues, including the Foreign Investment and National Security Act of 2007 (the landmark reform of the CFIUS process), as well multiple reauthorizations of the US Export-Import Bank charter and approval of a $108 billion financing agreement for the International Monetary Fund in 2009. Previously, Morris was a vice president at the Committee for Economic Development in Washington, DC.
The World Bank should be ambitious in working toward clean energy approaches in its development strategies, but it would be a mistake to definitively rule out coal in all circumstances. Such a decision would be bad for development and would also undermine the very goals that the bank’s coal critics espouse by further pitting developing and developed countries against each other in the climate debate occurring within the bank. The key challenges are to identify the relevant development needs related to coal-fired generation, to define the role of the bank, and to elaborate guidelines to direct decisions. In this essay, we discuss the broad issues and then summarize what the guidelines likely would mean in practice.
Over the past few months, quite a bit of high-level rhetoric has surrounded World Bank funding of coal projects in developing countries. On one side, Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, stated that “it is no longer necessary [for the World Bank to invest in coal projects] because we have many other technologies that can come forward.” On the other side, World Bank president Jim Kim stated that “we will look for everything we can possibly do to avoid [coal projects] but look, poor people should not pay the price with their lives of mistakes that people have been making in the developed world for a very long time.”
To get a sense of what this trip means for Obama’s African legacy and the expectations of his hosts, I invited CGD vice president Todd Moss and visiting fellow Scott Morris to be my guests on this week’s Wonkcast. Todd and Scott served as deputy assistant secretaries in the George Walker Bush and Obama administrations, respectively, Todd in the State Department (where he was oversaw US relations with west Africa) and Scott at Treasury (where he was responsible for the US role in multilateral institutions, including the African Development Bank). I’m eager to hear whether or not their views differ on how Obama can best build a stronger relationship with Africa.
Scott Morris is quoted in a Reuters article about the World Bank's annual "Doing Business" report.
From the article:
The World Bank on Friday said it intends to keep ranking nations on the ease of conducting business, despite criticism from countries like China that feel the scorecard unfairly stigmatizes fast-growing developing economies.
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said the Bank is committed to keeping its flagship "Doing Business" report, including the rating, which compares the ease of starting and conducting a business in 185 countries.
Shortly after coming to the World Bank last July, Kim appointed an independent panel to review the report and make recommendations about its future. The World Bank's board discussed the panel's findings on Friday, and they will be released publicly in coming weeks.
Scott Morris, a former U.S. Treasury official, said Kim was motivated to appoint the panel because several board members were very critical of the report last summer and wanted it abolished.
Morris, now a visiting fellow with the Center for Global Development in Washington, said some countries were uncomfortable with the transparency of the ranking system, posing a dilemma for the World Bank on its role and whether it should rank its members.
Read it here.
LBJ did it. So did Bill Clinton. Gerald Ford did it twice, Jimmy Carter did it just five weeks before being voted out of office, then Ronald Reagan turned around and did it the following year, and three more times after that.
As expected, the president’s budget includes a request for Congress to approve US participation in the 2010 IMF quota reform agreement. There’s a very strong case for approving the request, and I’ll simply point you here, here, and here to read it in detail. Suffice it to say, the IMF is a bargain for US taxpayers, promoting growth and stability globally in ways that directly benefit the US economy and often working in support of US strategic interests around the world.
At the moment, the issue of US leadership at the multilateral development banks (MDBs) is focused squarely on the World Bank presidency. But there’s a lot more to it than that, and a lot more at risk for the United States in the years ahead. In a new paper for the Council on Foreign Relations, I examine the US role in the MDB system—why it matters for the United States itself, how China has emerged as a game changer, and how the United States is too often its own worst enemy when it comes to effective leadership.
In this series of briefs, Center for Global Development experts present concrete, practical policy proposals that will promote growth and reduce poverty abroad. Each can make a difference at virtually no incremental cost to US taxpayers. Together, they can help secure America’s preeminence as a development and security power and partner.