Stories written by Anis Chowdhury

Only Multilateral Cooperation Can Stop Harmful Tax Competition

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has urged all governments to support a global minimum corporate tax rate of at least 21%. The US is working with other G20 nations to get other countries to end the “thirty-year race to the bottom on corporate tax rates”.

IMF, World Bank Must Support Developing Countries’ Recovery

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to take an unprecedented human and economic toll, wiping away years of modest and uneven progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Developing countries now need much more support as progress towards the SDGs was ‘not on track’ even before the pandemic.

UN Leadership Necessary for Fairer Tax Cooperation

Illicit financial flows (IFFs) hurt all countries, both developed and developing. But poor countries suffer relatively more, accounting for nearly half the loss of world tax revenue. IFFs refer to cross-border movements of money and other financial assets obtained illegally at source, e.g., by corruption, smuggling, tax evasion, etc. This often involves trade mis-invoicing and transnational corporations’ (TNCs) transfer pricing via ‘creative’ accounting or book-keeping.

IMF, World Bank Must Urgently Help Finance Developing Countries

COVID-19 has set back the uneven progress of recent decades, directly causing more than two million deaths. The slowdown, due to the pandemic and policy responses, has pushed hundreds of millions more into poverty, hunger and worse, also deepening many inequalities.

End Vaccine Apartheid Before Millions More Die

At least 85 poor countries will not have significant access to coronavirus vaccines before 2023. Unfortunately, a year’s delay will cause an estimated 2.5 million avoidable deaths in low and lower-middle income countries. As the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General has put it, the world is at the brink of a catastrophic moral failure.

Prioritise Pandemic Relief, Recovery: No Time for Debt Buybacks

Developing country governments are being wrongly advised to use their modest fiscal resources to pay down accumulated debt instead of strengthening pandemic relief and recovery. Thus, debt phobia risks deepening and extending COVID-19 recessions by prioritising buybacks.

Neoliberal Finance Undermines Poor Countries’ Recovery

After being undermined by decades of financial liberalisation, developing countries now are not only victims of vaccine imperialism, but also cannot count on much financial support as their COVID-19 recessions drag on due to global vaccine apartheid.

Developing Countries Struggling To Cope With COVID-19

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is adversely impacting most developing countries disproportionately, especially the United Nations’ least developed countries (LDCs) and the World Bank’s low-income countries (LICs). Years of implementing neoliberal policy conditionalities and advice have made most developing countries much more vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic by undermining their health systems and fiscal capacities to respond adequately.

IP, Vaccine Imperialism Cause Death and Suffering, Delay Recovery

Vaccine developers’ refusal to share publicly funded vaccine research findings is stalling broader, affordable vaccinations which would more rapidly contain COVID-19 contagion. The pandemic had infected at least 109 million people worldwide, causing over 2.4 million deaths as of mid-February.

Intellectual Property Cause of Death, Genocide

Refusal to temporarily suspend several World Trade Organization (WTO) intellectual property (IP) provisions to enable much faster and broader progress in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic should be grounds for International Criminal Court prosecution for genocide.

Trump Is Gone, Trumpism Lives On

Impeachment or no impeachment, Trump is out of the White House. Trump goes with an approval rating of 34%, far behind his predecessor Barack Obama’s 60%. A majority, 54%, said Trump ought to be removed from office before January 20, according to a new CNN poll, for his role in the January 6 events, when Trump incited his supporters to storm the US Capitol.

Reflecting Back and Imagining Forward

What a challenging year 2020 has been! A year of living dangerously – “Tahun vivere pericoloso”- perhaps these words of late President Soekarno of Indonesia are the best description. Fortunately, I managed to remain sane, reading and writing op-eds (mostly about the pandemic, here, here).

Intellectual Property Monopolies Block Vaccine Access

Just before the World Health Assembly (WHA), an 18 May open letter by world leaders and experts urged governments to ensure that all COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and tests are patent-free, fairly distributed and available to all, free of charge.

Urgently Needed Deficit Financing No Excuse for More Fiscal Abuse

Fiscal and monetary measures needed to fight the economic downturn, largely due to COVID-19 policy responses, require more government accountability and discipline to minimise abuse. Such measures should ensure relief for the vulnerable, prevent recessions from becoming depressions, and restore progress.

Will the New Fiscal Crises Improve International Tax Cooperation?

COVID-19 recessions have hit most countries, requiring massive fiscal responses. While most developing countries struggled with mounting debt even before the pandemic, many developed countries also face unprecedented macroeconomic pressures despite earlier spending cuts due to ‘fiscal consolidation’ policies.

World Bank Urges Governments to Guarantee Private Profits

The World Bank has been leading other multilateral development banks (MDBs) and international financial institutions to press developing country governments to ‘de-risk’ infrastructure and other private, especially foreign investments.

COVID-19 Compounding Inequalities

The United Nations’ renamed World Social Report 2020 (WSR 2020) argued that income inequality is rising in most developed countries, and some middle-income countries, including China, the world’s fastest growing economy in recent decades. Inequality dimensions While overall inter-country inequalities may have declined owing to the rapid growth of economies like China, India and East Asia, national inequalities have been growing for much of the world’s population, generating resentment.

Is Development for the World Bank Mainly Doing Business?

The World Bank has finally given up defending its controversial, but influential Doing Business Report (DBR). In August, the Bank “paused” publication of the DBR due to a “number of irregularities” after its much criticized ranking system was exposed as fraudulent.

Economic Trends and What’s Important in Life

US third quarter GDP numbers released two weeks ago delighted stock markets and President Trump. Output had picked up by 7.4%, annualised as 33.1%, the largest quarterly economic growth on record, almost double the old record of 3.9% (annualised as 16.7%) in the first quarter of 1950, seven decades ago.

Finance Covid-19 Relief and Recovery, Not Debt Buybacks

In July, the UN Secretary-General warned that a “series of countries in insolvency might trigger a global depression”. Earlier, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had called for a US$2.5 trillion coronavirus crisis package for developing countries.

Trump Undermines WHO, UN System

After accusing the World Health Organization (WHO) of pro-China bias, President Donald Trump announced US withdrawal from the UN agency. Although the US created the UN system for the post-Second World War new international order, Washington has often had to struggle in recent decades to ensure that it continues to serve changing US interests.

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