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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 US Agency for International Development (USAID) is the lead US development agency, managing roughly $20 billion in annual appropriations. The agency operates in over 120 countries, including the world’s poorest and most fragile. Its work spans a wide range of sectors, supporting humanitarian relief, economic growth, health, education, and more. USAID’s broad remit reflects the agency’s mission: “We partner to end extreme poverty and promote resilient, democratic societies while advancing our security and prosperity."
Treasury’s Office of International Affairs works with other federal agencies, foreign governments, and international financial institutions to strengthen the global economy and foster economic stability. The United States’ international engagement through Treasury supports our national economic and security interests by promoting strong economic governance abroad and bolstering financial sector stability in developing countries. Through Treasury, the United States exercises leadership in international financial institutions where it shapes the global economic and development agenda and leverages US government investments, while tackling poverty and other challenges around the world.
State Department guidance underscores the importance of its work in furthering development: “The surest path to creating more prosperous societies requires indigenous political will; responsive, effective, accountable, and transparent governance; and broad-based, inclusive economic growth. Without this enabling environment, sustained development progress often remains out of reach.”
So it turns out the “skinny budget” released by the White House is really just a press release—a sprinkling of numbers amidst a lot of assertion and characterization of the real budget that is yet to come. When it comes to foreign assistance, the skinny budget doesn’t quite know what it wants to be, with statements that are both confused and confusing.
Big cuts are likely coming to the State Department and USAID. So how can the US make the best use of fewer foreign assistance dollars in future? That was the subject of a heated debate at CGD earlier this week. CGD’s Scott Morris, the director of our US Development Policy Initiative, joined leading thinkers from across the political spectrum—Danielle Pletka from the American Enterprise Institute, Jim Roberts from the Heritage Foundation, and John Norris from the Center for American Progress—to discuss the best way to move forward with limited resources.
Each of the G20 summits of the past seven years has suffered in comparison with the London and Pittsburgh Summits of 2009, when the imperative of crisis response motivated leaders, finance ministers, and central bankers to coordinate effectively with each other. Subsequent summits have lacked the same sense of urgency and have failed to deliver any kind of agenda that can be pinpointed as clearly as “saving the global economy.” This week’s summit in Hamburg, Germany promises more of the same, with the real possibility that the G20’s stock could fall even further at the hands of a non-cooperative US delegation.
With big cuts to US bilateral and multilateral assistance looming, the House Committee on Financial Services convened a hearing to investigate accountability and results at the World Bank. Scott Morris, CGD’s director of the US Development Policy initiative (DPI), was joined by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ Sasha Chavkin, CalTech’s Jean Ensminger, and BIC’s Elana Berger. It was a thoughtful conversation, with everyone on the panel agreeing that it is in the United States’ interest to continue engagement with the World Bank. Here are my main takeaways from the hearing.
My guest on the Wonkcast this week is Scott Morris, a senior associate here at CGD and former deputy assistant secretary at the US Treasury, where he oversaw US ties with the multilateral development banks.
Scott recently led a study group of CGD colleagues and outside experts that reviewed G-20 efforts to increase financing for infrastructure in developing countries. The group produced a short note proposing five new deliverables for the G-20 on infrastructure finance. (See Scott’s blog post with Madeleine Gleave for an even shorter version.)
Here, CGD experts Amanda Glassman, Scott Morris, and Jeremy Konyndyk weigh in on some of the key points we heard (and live tweeted) during Secretary Tillerson’s testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and, later, when he answered questions from the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs.
Finance and development ministers gathered in Washington this weekend at the World Bank’s annual meetings have an ambitious agenda of topics to discuss. But the truth is, it is not nearly ambitious enough. A new CGD report by a high level commission of development and finance experts explains why and what should happen.
The Chinese government has published the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank’s (AIIB) newly adopted articles of agreement. That’s an encouraging early sign of transparency, and more importantly, of timely transparency. Much of what’s in the articles was foreshadowed by previous comments and reporting, but there are surprises, such as stronger-than-expected veto powers for the Chinese and the possibility for non-sovereign membership.
With major cuts to foreign assistance expected in the Trump administration’s budget preview later this week, CGD’s US Development Policy Initiative hosted experts from across the political spectrum to discuss what these cuts might mean. In a heated debate (well, at least for a think tank event), CGD’s Scott Morris, CAP’s John Norris, AEI’s Danielle Pletka, and Heritage’s Jim Roberts found a few areas of agreement, if more in the way of constructive suggestions to Congress and the Administration on ways forward.