Economy and Finance

The global economy is rapidly changing. Economic power is increasingly shifting from North America and Europe to China, India, Brazil and other emerging economies. At the same time, poverty remains endemic in many parts of the developing world. Global challenges such as climate change and resource scarcity are shaping the way countries manage their own economies and interact with others.

Accountant counting a bundle of 100 Yuan bank notes.Credit: Mark Henley / Panos

The impacts of the financial crisis are being felt around the world, placing global financial systems under increased scrutiny and raising questions about regulation and reform.

Sustainable and equitable economic growth is more important than ever. Achieving this requires countries to reach out to broader markets through trade, and to create the right domestic environment to stimulate investment and innovation. They also need to ensure that external relationships contribute as much as possible to domestic growth and development, and that the benefits of development are shared fairly.

IDS works on a range of issues concerning economy and finance, including:

  • Trade and growth – we are analysing trends in global trade and regionalisation of the global economy using quantitative analysis and economic modelling.
  • Sustainability and the green economy – we are seeking to understand how investment in low-carbon technologies can help countries grow sustainably, and how this investment could be increased.
  • Finance and infrastructure – we are examining the impact of Development Finance Institutions support for Private Participation in Infrastructure on economic growth and poverty reduction.
  • Private capital flows – we are mapping changes in capital flows, and linking this to development impacts.
  • Climate change finance – we are exploring how to mobilise and distribute finance that helps countries mitigate and adapt to climate change.
  • Environmental taxation – we are exploring the links between environmental taxation and international development outcomes.
  • Business innovation and branding – we are examining how businesses in China and Brazil are growing their innovation and branding capabilities.

Assessing the Tobin Tax

The current financial crisis has stirred up an old debate about whether it might make sense to impose a Tobin Tax, either on foreign exchange transactions or on all financial transactions. More details

BRICS Economic Engagement Footprint Study

This project investigated the nature of economic relations between the BRICS and Africa, in order to quantify the development footprint, focusing on various elements such as trade, investment. finance, ODA and migration. The current phase aims to look at development finance and the role of BRICS development banks. More details

Business from the BRICS

The Rising Powers in International Development Programme is looking at the growing role of business from the BRICS countries in the field of international development cooperation. More details

Codes and Standards and Development Finance

Using case studies of Brazil and India, this work looked at the impact on development finance of compliance with international codes and standards. More details

Evidence and Lessons from Latin America (ELLA)

Evidence and Lessons from Latin America' (ELLA) is a knowledge sharing and learning programme, that seeks to improve knowledge of Latin America's development among African and Asian policymakers, practitioners and researchers - on selected economic, environmental and governance issues. More details

International Architecture for Economic Shock Financing

This project examined the international architecture of economic shock financing and provided some recommendations for a better shock financing architecture. More details

International Public Opinion Monitor

The International Public Opinion Monitor aims to understand how everyday citizens see the world in which live, and how their attitudes change (or not) over time. More details

Linking Participation and Economic Advancement

We aim to support the Open Society Foundation in the strategic development of its Economic Advancement Programme. More details

Political Economy of Low Carbon Investment in China and India

This project investigates whether and how coalitions of public, private and civic actors influence low carbon investment. More details

Research on the Poverty Impact of Market and Enabling Business Environment Programmes in Kenya

To what extent does private sector development work in Kenya contribute to a reduction in poverty and inequality? This review aims to assess the evidence base for DFID Kenya’s Wealth Creation Pillar programming. More details

UNU-WIDER Symposium on Taxation & Revenue Mobilisation in Developing Countries consultancy

Bruno Martorano will be conducting research on the topic of ‘Tax Changes and Inequality in Latin America, 1990-2010’ More details

View all Research Theme's publications

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PB146_FrontCover

Public–Private Cooperation for Secure and Inclusive Rural Economies

IDS Policy Briefing 146 (2017)

How do public–private collaborations enable secure and inclusive rural economies? Alongside private sector investment, government provision of infrastructure, research and extension services and support for farmer organisations remains crucial. More details

This is the from cover to Digital and Technology Briefing 1, 'Decent Work in a Digital Age'.

Decent Work in a Digital World

IDS Digital and Technology Briefing 1 (2017)

Advances in digital technology and artificial intelligence are transforming the future of work. Self-driving trucks are due to be tested on UK roads in 2018 and are already being piloted in the US where around three million truck drivers and 8.7 million other people are employed in trucking-related jobs. More details

Wp491_FrontCover

Small Firms as a Blind Spot in Greek Austerity Economics

IDS Working Paper 491 (2017)

This paper offers an interpretation of the Greek crisis focusing on the role of small firms. Most accounts of the crisis stress austerity resulting from macroeconomic conditions imposed from the outside. The paper argues that this is reductionist and ignores that the origin of the crisis lies in internal structural problems. More details

Front cover of report Market systems development in the
cities of rapidly urbanising countries

Market Systems Development in the Cities of Rapidly Urbanising Countries

The aim of this paper is to offer guidelines for those in the market systems community interested in working in urban settings, by exploring the key features that makes cities unique and the implications these features have for programmes using a market systems approach. More details

Wp484_FrontCover

The Political Economy of Economic Empowerment: Bringing Politics and Society Back In

IDS Working Paper 484 (2017)

Economic empowerment programmes designed to mitigate inequalities are increasingly becoming an important part of the portfolio for governments in low-income countries. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Book Review: Isabelle Guérin, Marc Labie and Jean-Michel Servet (2015): The Crises of Microcredit

Journal of International Development 29.2 (2017)

An edited book by Isabelle Guérin, Marc Labie and Jean-Michel Servet shines the spotlight on numerous smaller crises and collapses that have plagued microcredit in many countries over the past two decades, some of which went unnoticed beyond narrow expert circles. More details

ER222_FrontCover

Evaluation and Impact Investing: A Review of Methodologies to Assess Social Impact

IDS Evidence Report 222 (2017)

This report highlights the paradox within impact investing: the prioritisation of ‘social impact’ without prioritising ‘impact evidence’. The growth of metrics, ratings and certification-based approaches has sought to address this gap but this only goes so far, and there is a need for a more evaluative approach to assessing impact. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Political Economy Analysis of the Binding Constraints to Renewable Energy Investment in Ghana

The main aim of this report is to unravel the complexity as well as identify the alignments of interests or alliances surrounding the advancement or blockage of the implementation of very fundamental policies, initiatives and strategies for RE investment and development in Ghana. More details

ER213_FrontCover

Gauging Demand for Evidence and Accountability in Impact Investing by using Twitter Social Network Analysis: A Methodology

IDS Evidence Report 213 (2016)

This report explains the methodology used to analyse the demand for evidence and accountability within the impact investment market. Social network analysis, qualitative interviews and ego network analysis were used to explore actors within this market (or system), drawing on data from Twitter to consider connections, influence and conversations about social impact. More details

PB126_FrontCover

Towards Greater Effectiveness and Accountability in Impact Investing

IDS Policy Briefing 126 (2016)

Impact investing – investing for social and environmental returns alongside financial returns – is a growing phenomenon in financial markets. However, concerns exist regarding the demand for robust impact evidence and accountability for impact claims when compared to a public sector aid model. More details

WP472_FrontCover

From Growth to Green Investment Diagnostics

IDS Working Paper 472 (2016)

The need to shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy systems is now broadly accepted, and our understanding of how different policy mechanisms can support this process is growing. More details

PB121_FrontCover

Can China’s Bold New Plans Make the Difference in Pakistan?

IDS Policy Briefing 121 (2016)

Ever since the 1955 Bandung Conference of Afro-Asian states, China has been active in civil engineering projects around the world, especially in Africa, as a sign of its commitment to the world emerging from colonialism. More details

image for non-ids publications

A New Politics of Development Cooperation? Chinese and Brazilian Engagements in African Agriculture

World Development 81 (2016)

The paper asks if a new paradigm for development cooperation is emerging, and argues that we must move beyond the simplistic narratives of either 'South–South' collaboration or “neo-imperial” expansion of “rising powers” to look at the dynamic and contested politics of engagement, as new forms of capital and technology enter African contexts. More details

ER190_FrontCover

Cost and Returns of Renewable Energy in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Comparison of Kenya and Ghana

IDS Evidence Report 190 (2016)

The allocation of finance for the provision of green electricity in sub-Saharan Africa should be informed by two questions. Which generation technologies are financially viable? And which generation technologies are affordable? More details

ER189_FrontCover

The BRICS in International Development: The New Landscape

IDS Evidence Report 189 (2016)

This Evidence Report provides a summary account of the role of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) in shaping the current global development landscape. More details

PB113_FrontCover

What Can the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank Learn from Other Development Banks?

IDS Policy Briefing 113 (2016)

Global development has reached a critical turning point. In addition to achieving middle-income status, several recipient countries are now also becoming donors and lenders to other developing countries. China in particular has rapidly expanded its development finance programme and launched new multilateral initiatives. More details

ER179_FrontCover

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank: What Can It Learn From, and Perhaps Teach To, the Multilateral Development Banks?

IDS Evidence Report 179 (2016)

A striking phenomenon of recent global economic change is the emergence of new development actors, with alternative development experiences and development financing capacity. These actors are now creating collective institutional capacity with the aim of contributing to other countries’ development. They are also increasingly influencing the path of global development. More details

ER176_FrontCover

Questioning Three Fundamental Assumptions in Financial Inclusion

IDS Evidence Report 176 (2016)

Financial inclusion has rapidly ascended global development policy agendas. Between 2 billion and 2.5 billion adults worldwide do not use formal financial services (World Bank 2015: v), which a multifaceted coalition of actors is committed to changing. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Card Crusaders, Cash Infidels and the Holy Grails of Digital Financial Inclusion

Behemoth: A Journal on Civilisation 9.2 (2016)

This paper analyses the turn toward financial inclusion in general, and toward digital money and the end of cash in particular, in development policy. It examines the profit-oriented logics at work and raises critical questions about the moral crusade being waged over digitalising poor people’s money. More details

Non-IDS publication

Is it Possible to Adjust ‘with a Human Face’? Differences in Fiscal Consolidation Strategies in Hungary versus Iceland

Comparative Economic Studies 57 (2015)

Although Hungary and Iceland suffered a similar fall in GDP, their respective governments decided to follow different strategies of adjustment. Each country cut spending according to different priorities More details

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Approaching Markets in Rapidly Growing Cities

20 Jul 2017
By Maria del Mar Maestre Morales, Gordon McGranahan, Eric Kasper

Can “markets” include and benefit very marginalised people?

02 May 2017
By Jodie Thorpe, Zenebe Uraguchi

Beyond the paid economy: unpaid care work and women’s empowerment

26 Apr 2017
By Maria del Mar Maestre Morales
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