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When push came to shove: COVID-19 and debt crises in low-income countries

The pandemic brought to the fore the long-standing weaknesses of resolving countries’ debt repayment difficulties. This article examines the response by the G20 and the IMF in the first six months of the pandemic focusing on low-income countries. This article maps the proposals and current debate motivated by the pandemic and argues that a critical element of the dysfunctional architecture that deserves more attention is Debt Sustainability Analysis (DSA). The article analyses the characteristics of IMF loans to DSSI eligible countries, and scrutinises the IMF’s loan approval basis. The article finds that programmes were approved on the basis of sharp “V” shaped recovery and re-establishment of fiscal austerity after transitory deficit spending.