World Bank

The World Bank’s private sector lending arm has been very publicly rapped over the knuckles for its handling of an investment in Honduran palm oil company Corporación Dinant, which human rights groups allege has links with death squads and the killing and torture of peasant farmers who claim the land where it operates.

But if the shaming of the IFC in an independent audit by the Office of the Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman (CAO) were not bad enough, Peter Chowla, co-ordinator of the UK-based Bretton Woods Project, says: “Some of the most damaging findings from this case are yet to come.” Continue reading »

The World Bank’s ease of doing business indicators are very important. If you are, say, the Macedonian trade minister, you will know your country’s ranking – and you will cite it at every opportunity to boost foreign investment. (It’s 25, by the way.)

But behind the scenes is a conflict between several countries over how these rankings are compiled. To some, the methodology is biased in favour of outright deregulation. To others it takes no account of levels of corruption. China is trying hard – with little success so far – to influence the process. Continue reading »

The World Bank’s annual ease of doing business indicators were published on Tuesday – and they make a pleasant read for Russian policy makers.

In the last year, Russia has climbed 19 places to position 92, and is now the leading Bric nation. (That is, the country is 92nd out of 189 nations when it comes to the ease of doing business.) Ukraine – the country that has improved the most over the past year – rose 28 notches to 112. Continue reading »

The World Bank slashed its growth forecast for India on Thursday, predicting GDP for the current fiscal year at 4.7 per cent.

Back in April, the Bank was predicting economic growth of 6.1 per cent in the current fiscal year – but a lot has happened since April. Continue reading »

There is much worry among emerging market investors – and policy makers – that it is 1997 all over again. EM currencies have plunged since May. Investors have piled capital into these countries since 2008 and some now fear capital will rush the other way.

Is it 1997 redux? Not in East Asia, according to the World Bank’s East Asia And Pacific Economic Update: most economies here “are in a relatively strong position to face this shock, with significantly lower vulnerabilities than in the run-up to the 1997–98 Asian crises”. Continue reading »

What’s the bigger risk for emerging Asia, the US tapering its QE programme, or the fall-out from years of over-investment in China? In the World Bank’s East Asia And Pacific Economic Update, they get a chapter each in a section titled “Selected Emerging Issues”, which could be better titled “what we should be worried about”.

And the conclusion? Continue reading »

There was plenty of thinly-veiled gloom in the World Bank’s semi-annual update on the economies of East Asia. It expects the region to growth at 7.1 per cent this year, down from its projection of 7.8 per cent six months ago. Most of that is down to falling growth in China, though all the countries covered are experiencing problems of some sort.

All except one, that is: the Philippines. Continue reading »

The World Bank has followed the International Monetary Fund’s lead by slashing its economic growth forecasts for Indonesia and urging the country to carry out “deep reforms” if it is to avoid a prolonged slump.

Just three months since it last updated its predictions, the development lender cuts its GDP projection for this year from 5.9 per cent to 5.6 per cent and for next year from 6.2 per cent to 5.3 per cent. Continue reading »

It looks like another tough battle is in store for one more foreign utility owner fighting back against Bolivian nationalisation.

Red Eléctrica, the Spanish power grid operator, is to seek arbitration at ICSID, the World Bank’s investment dispute settlement agency, after Bolivian troops marched in to take over Transportadora de Electricidad, which handles about three quarters of electricity transmission in the Andrean country, in May last year. Continue reading »

 Zambian President Rupiah Bwezani Banda toasts with Chinese President Hu Jintao, 2010When it comes to loans, Africa has a clear preference: lots from China, a little less from the World Bank please.

According to data compiled by rating agency Fitch, loans from China’s Exim bank to Africa in 2011 were double that of the World Bank, cementing a trend which started around 2005. Continue reading »

You know you’re in trouble when the World Bank counts on an election year to pull your economy out of the doldrums. Especially if you’re Kenya.

Thanks to “another difficult year” in 2012, the World Bank says Kenya will likely miss an earlier predicted growth rate of 5 per cent this year, managing only 4.3 per cent, a drop on the 4.4 per cent of 2011 and far too low to realise the country’s aim to become a middle-income country by 2020. Continue reading »

The phrases “south Balkan nation” and “ease of doing business” are mutually exclusive in the minds of many western business leaders. But in case you hadn’t noticed, Macedonia, the most southerly of the former Yugoslavia successor states, came in at number 23 in the latest World Bank Doing Business rankings.

Unsurprisingly, it was something Nikola Gruevski, Macedonia’s prime minister (pictured), was keen to emphasise during an official visit Budapest. Continue reading »

After comings and goings, Bolivia’s leftist government with an indigenous twist finally ruled out paying compensation to Canada’s South American Silver, two months after their mining licence was revoked.

“The nation has no financial obligation to South American Silver,” mining minister Mario Virreira told reporters, adding there was “never any document establishing that the Bolivian government had a contractual relationship” with the Vancouver-based company. Continue reading »

The World Bank has approved loans worth $684m for the Eastern Electricity Highway Project, which aims to transport Ethiopian power to Kenya and beyond.

The project is part of a $1.3bn plan to open up an eastern African power network, but has attracted controversy due to social and environmental worries over the knock on effects of hydro-power in Ethiopia. Continue reading »

Just as China looks to be refuelling the investment engine, a word of warning comes from the World Bank: China’s traditional fallback plan of infrastructure-based growth is not the answer to a sliding economy. Much better to get people spending.

The World Bank also trimmed its 2012 growth forecast for China to 8.2 per cent, in line with yesterday’s update from the OECD. Continue reading »