A series of major shocks have hit the global economy, putting public finances under pressure. Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine have led to rising inflation, interest rates and public debt. They have also placed significant demands on public spending. Since 2020, governments have increased health spending and expanded social safety nets – in many cases to unprecedented levels. Now, slower growth and higher debt service costs are squeezing the fiscal space for spending on public services at a time when global poverty is rising and the pressures to address the climate crisis are becoming increasingly urgent.
ODI’s 2023 Public Finance Conference will examine the trade-offs facing finance ministries as they navigate this ‘poly-crisis’, drawing on the latest research and international experiences. Participants will debate the ideas that guide macro-fiscal policy-making and share lessons from managing the fiscal squeeze. The discussions will reflect on how these short-term stabilisation needs can be balanced against the longer-term challenges for tackling income inequality and the climate crisis. In doing so, we will shape a new 2050 agenda for public finances in low- and middle-income countries that could provide an improved basis for international cooperation and peer learning for the next three decades.