Achieving sustainable development depends on incremental investments in six priority transformations: building human capacities (health, education, new job skills); decarbonising energy; promoting sustainable agriculture and biodiversity; building smarter cities; implementing the circular economy; and harnessing the digital revolution. As such, sustainable development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in particular pose a financing challenge. There are three distinct financing conundrums to solve: financing complex infrastructure, financing public services and amenities, and shifting investments from unsustainable to sustainable technologies. I discuss these in turn.
Growing a business is not easy, and for women firm owners the challenges can be acute, especially when they are poor and run subsistence level firms. In developing countries, 22 percent of women discontinue their established businesses due to a lack of funds, and women are more likely than men to report exiting their businesses over finance problems, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. Meanwhile, personal savings are a crucial source of entrepreneurial financing, and nearly 95 percent of entrepreneurs globally state that they used their own funds to start or scale up their businesses. Women, however, face unique constraints in accumulating savings to invest in growing their firms.
It is widely accepted that corporate tax avoidance is commonplace, but experts disagree over the precise amount of tax that corporations successfully avoid. One estimate for 2012 suggests that 50 percent of all foreign income of multinationals is reported in jurisdictions with an effective tax rate below 5 percent; another suggests it’s more like 40 percent. The OECD estimates that governments worldwide are missing out on anything between four and ten percent of global corporate income tax revenue every year, or US$100–$240 billion. While the accounting varies, one fact is clear: there is an unacceptable level of corporate tax avoidance, no matter how you do the math.
Financing for development is not a cost, it is an investment. An investment in sustainable cities, quality education, access to healthcare, decent jobs, efficient and responsible agriculture, and ending extreme poverty. In 2015, we recognized that the size of the investment needed to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is greater than aid alone can provide. The Addis Ababa Action Agenda called on both public and private actors to use aid, taxation, investment, remittances, philanthropy and innovative financing. This amounts to trillions of dollars in financing of all kinds, which needs to be targeted more strategically to where they are most needed.
It’s financial inclusion week—a series of events exploring "the most pressing actions needed to advance financial inclusion globally"—making this a perfect time to launch the 2017 Global Findex microdata.
In April, we released country-level indicators on account ownership, digital savings, savings, credit, and financial resilience. Now comes the microdata – individual-level survey responses from roughly 150,000 adults living in more than 140 economies globally.
Capital flows to emerging market economies are deemed volatile, driven more by external than domestic factors. Surges in capital flows often generate macroeconomic imbalances in emerging markets, resulting in rapid credit growth, asset price inflation, and economic overheating. Reversals are disruptive too, often causing financial volatility, economic slowdown, and in some cases distress in the banking and corporate sectors.
In 2014, foreign investors invested more than one trillion U.S. dollars into emerging countries. Of those inflows, 90 billion U.S. dollars came in the form of equity financing. On aggregate, capital inflows have helped may developing countries invest and grow, even despite the associated volatility they might entail. But we still do not know how those inflows are transmitted within an economy once they arrive.
After a prolonged slowdown, investment growth in emerging markets and developing economies (EMDEs) picked up to 4.5 percent in 2017, and is projected to accelerate to 5.2 percent in 2018 and 2019 (investment refers to real gross fixed capital formation, public and private combined). Yet projected investment growth is below its long-term (1990–2017) average, inhibited by political uncertainty, trade risks, and expectations of rising interest rates. This will likely limit potential output growth and delay per-capita income convergence between EMDEs and advanced economies.
Ceilings on lending rates remain a widely-used instrument in many EMDEs as well as developed economies. The economic and political rationale for putting ceilings on lending rates is to protect consumers from usury or to make credit cheaper and more accessible. Our recent working paper shows that at least 76 countries around the world, representing more than 80% of global GDP and global financial assets, impose some restrictions on lending rates. These countries are not clustered in specific regions or income groups, but spread across all geographic and income dimensions.