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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.
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.
With fundamental questions being raised these days about the nature and value of US foreign assistance, it is all the more critical that the Center for Global Development continues to play a leadership role in bringing evidence and analysis to the US policy agenda. That’s why I’m so pleased to announce three new hires that will enable us to up our game across the board and move into critical new areas of US policy.
While still a work in progress, the Trump Administration’s first budget request to Congress is expected to contain deep cuts to the US foreign affairs budget. What would substantial funding reductions mean for US efforts to advance global development and for US interests more broadly? What does the evidence tell us about US investments in foreign aid? How can the administration and Congress work to ensure the best use of assistance dollars?
When White House officials decided to talk publicly about a big boost in defense spending and big cuts for EPA, the State Department, and foreign assistance while still deep in their internal negotiation process, they did so for political reasons, making a direct case to voters devoid of any clearly stated policy rationale. It’s been encouraging, and even a little bit surprising, to see strong and quick statements of opposition coming from key Republicans in the Senate and House as well as the military community. But the reality remains that the White House has decided to politicize foreign assistance in a way that we have not seen for over 30 years.
This week, CGD hosted a discussion with Philippe Le Houérou, the CEO of IFC, the private sector arm of the World Bank. He was enthusiastic about his institution’s role in leveraging private capital and getting from billions to trillions of dollars for development, but he also presented a nuanced and critical judgment about the limitations of the IFC model to date, pointing to a number of ways it needs to change.
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.
Not only is the Trump administration supporting a $7.5 billion capital increase for the IBRD (and at that, one that is 50 percent larger than the capital increase supported by the Obama administration in 2010), it has also signed on to a policy framework for the new money that makes a good deal of sense.
Since 1971, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) has served as the US government’s development finance institution. OPIC works to mobilize private capital to address development challenges while advancing US foreign policy priorities—furthering strategic, development, economic, and political objectives. OPIC aims to catalyze investment abroad through loans, guarantees, and insurance, which enable OPIC to complement rather than compete with the private sector. The independent agency also plays a key role in helping US investors gain a foothold in emerging markets and is barred from supporting projects that could have a negative impact on the US economy.
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.
A multi-year project just came to fruition with the endorsement by the Board of the World Bank of its new set of safeguards—the social and environmental standards that govern Bank-funded projects in client countries. CGD's expert on multilateral development banks, senior fellow Scott Morris, reacted to the new policies in a recent blog post, and joins me this week on the CGD Podcast to discuss.
In a few days, the US government will move to officially oppose any and all large hydroelectric projects funded by the multilateral development banks, even as USAID considers bringing the mother of all hydroelectric projects, “Inga 3”, into the high profile “Power Africa” initiative.