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

Handbook of Financialization

Financialization has become the go-to term for scholarship that studies the vastly expanded role of finance in contemporary politics, economy and society. The goal of this handbook is to provide a comprehensive overview of the scholarship on financialization as it stands today, almost twenty years after the concept was first embraced by social scientists 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

Linking Participation and Economic Advancement

In this project, IDS will draw upon and expand its rich experience at the forefront of thinking about participation in development, and our emerging work at the intersection of participation and markets. We will co-create along with the Economic Advancement Program (EAP) at the Open Society Foundations (OSF), a deeper understanding of participation in economic advancement in general, as well as how EAP can bring participatory approaches into its own practice. More details

Masculinities and Transition

The project will explore the experiences of men and shifting constructions of masculinities in current ‘transition countries’ 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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

Non-IDS publication

Could Changes in the International Tax System be a Strategy for Dealing with Inequality?

At the level of tax design, the answer to this question is clear and positive. It would be easy, for example, to draft the international treaty and the national legislation required to implement Thomas Piketty’s (2014) proposal for a global tax on wealth. 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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Financing Universal Access to Electricity

IDS Policy Briefing 99 (2015)

The recent emphasis on the provision of modern energy services as an important ingredient for development has improved finance availability for the goal of Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL). More details

IDS publications on international development research

Report: New Frontiers for Evaluation in an Era of Market-Oriented Development: Monday 20–Wednesday 22 July 2015

As part of the International Year of Evaluation 2015, this Wilton Park convened meeting gave evaluation professionals, development partners, and investors an open forum to review recent evaluation experience, debate evaluation governance issues, and probe the methodological questions brought about by the market-based revolution. More details

This is the cover to the IDS Virtual Bulletin, 'Past, Present and Future Financing for Development'.

Past, Present and Future Financing for Development

IDS Virtual Bulletin 6 (2015)

2015 is a watershed year for international development with the world set to agree a set of Sustainable Development Goals and a new climate change agreement that will apply to all countries. More details

This is the front cover to IDS Policy Briefing 96, 'Building Tax Capacity in Developing Countries'.

Building Tax Capacity in Developing Countries

IDS Policy Briefing 96 (2015)

The agenda for the Third International Conference on Financing for Development suggests there will be less focus on aid, and more on how developing countries can generate their own financial resources for development. Governments will be urged to tax more effectively, and donors will be called upon to help build capacity in developing country tax administrations. More details

This is the front cover to IDS Bulletin Vol 46.3, 'Business, State and Society: Changing Perspectives, Roles and Approaches in Development'.

Business, State and Society: Changing Perspectives, Roles and Approaches

IDS Bulletin 46.3 (2015)

The debate on the role of business and markets in development has a long history, marked by divergent and strongly held perspectives, but also shifts in dominant thinking about what is feasible and desirable. While only two decades ago debates were about the state vs the market, there is currently broad consensus that both are essential. More details

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National Development Banks in the BRICS: Lessons for the Post-2015 Development Finance Framework

IDS Policy Briefing 93 (2015)

In 2015, the framework to succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will be agreed. As described in the outcome document of the United Nations Rio+20 conference, The Future We Want, the mobilisation and effective use of stable, sufficient and suitable development finance must be a crucial part of this framework. More details

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China’s Development Finance: Ambition, Impact and Transparency

IDS Policy Briefing 92 (2015)

In a context of lagging reform in the Bretton Woods institutions, China has brought the debate on its role as a rising power in global economic governance onto the front pages, notably with the divided response of ‘the West’ to membership in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which is to be headquartered in Beijing. More details

Non-IDS publication

Top Income Shares, Business Profits, and Effective Tax Rates in Contemporary Chile

We contribute to research on inequality and world top incomes by presenting the first calculations of Chilean top income shares and effective tax rates using individual tax return microdata from 2005 and 2009. More details

Non-IDS publication

Structural Change and Wage Inequality in the Manufacturing Sector: Long Run Evidence from East Asia

Oxford Development Studies 43.2 (2015)

This paper analyses the long run determinants of wage inequality in the manufacturing sector for a group of East Asian countries that have experienced rapid structural transformations in recent decades. More details

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Improving the Practice of Value for Money Assessment

CDI Practice Paper 12 (2015)

This CDI Practice Paper by Julian Barr and Angela Christie brings together recent work at Itad to examine the origins of the concept of value for money (VFM) in the performance audit of public expenditure and its increasing prominence as a tool applied to support the management of publicly funded international development. More details

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What Explains the Allocation of Aid and Private Investment for Electrification?

IDS Evidence Report 123 (2015)

This paper aims to inform policy looking to step up investment in the electricity sector of developing countries and align it to other development goals such as universal access to energy or sustainability. More details