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GPCThinkS - Recent Posts

At the Global Projects Center, we strive to create research that improves the way we invest and develop critical infrastructure. Our research practices often involve analyzing the latest trends or innovative practices available in industry and root them in theory to produce findings, best practices, and takeaways for investors, developers, advisors, and public sponsors. This page is a space in which we can write about what we are working on and what we are passionate about. These could be ideas that we hope will one day make it into our academic publications, or practical recommendations from our research. We welcome your feedback on these ideas and plan to keep you posted on our many "projects" below. 

by John Ryan

Thursday, February 2, 2017
When infrastructure maintenance is deferred or a pension contribution is skipped, critics of imprudent public spending are quick to label it as "kicking the can down the road." But that doesn't really capture the essence of the practice. It's a form of borrowing. More cash is available in the current period, but a future obligation in the same amount, plus accrued costs, is created. Just like a loan. If done infrequently in small amounts and reversed quickly, borrowing by kicking the can is probably benign or even beneficial. State and local governments face many fiscal rules and limits; these constraints impose good discipline in the long run but can make it hard to square the circle when growth is uncertain and revenues are volatile. So a bit of slack can help hard-pressed public-sector officials cope with uncertainty and make better choices.

by Caroline Nowacki

Monday, November 21, 2016
The United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development convenes every two decades to debate human settlement and collectively set goals for our urban future. The third of these conferences, HABITAT III, happened in Quito, Ecuador from Oct. 17th to 20th. After two years of negotiation between countries and preparatory meetings that brought in local governments and civil society, the New Urban Agenda was adopted on Oct. 20th 2016. Municipal Finance was a key topic discussed at HABITAT III. Nations’ foreign ministries, development banks, think tanks and local governments were at the forefront of discussions on how to fund and finance the New Urban Agenda. On the contrary institutional investors were nowhere to be seen, despite the relevance of the topic to their investment portfolios.

by Vimbainashe Anda

Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Nigeria is the largest oil producer in Africa, producing 1,75 million barrels of oil per day. Nigeria also has close to 370 times more people than Edinburgh, yet the same amount of electricity is consumed in Scotland’s capital as is in Nigeria. Only a quarter of the Nigerian population is connected to the grid; those who are connected to the grid can only expect to receive an average of 3 hours of electricity a day. This disconnect between the abundance of energy in one form, and the sheer lack of it in another has detrimental effects on both individuals and businesses. Companies looking to invest in Nigeria have to factor in this resource’s scarcity. The overhead costs of companies operating in Nigeria are increased as the businesses rely on diesel generators for their electricity. The heaviest burden is borne by the local population, who suffer loss of opportunities and increased living costs by this reduced access to electricity.

by Marc Solsona Bernet

Tuesday, July 19, 2016
International Infrastructure investment gained rapid traction as an investment instrument during the 20th century. Historic examples of these initiatives include the two of the most relevant and critical transportation infrastructures that have positively disrupted and later shaped modern world trade: The Suez Canal was constructed and operated by the French Suez Canal Company, while the Panama Canal was originally started by the French and later completed by the United States, which operated the Canal and adjacent territories until 1999. These investments, often seen as strategic financial plays by the nations that sponsor them, are at times viewed with caution and suspicion by the local community and stakeholders.

by Julie Kim

Thursday, May 19, 2016
Today’s cities have no choice but to discover new and innovative models for urban infrastructure financing. Instead of relying on national governments and development grants, subsidies, and transfers that are unsustainable in the long run, they need to become smarter and more financially savvy. Because cities are where the rubber (quite literally) meets the road, they have the opportunity to be at the forefront—engaging their citizens and investors alike, devising creative and innovative solutions on their own, designing projects that are bankable, and marketing them globally.

by Ting Liu

Thursday, April 28, 2016
As an alternative approach to traditional public procurement, PPPs are adopted by governments for a variety of reasons, including to overcome financing constraints by getting private investors involved in large-scale projects, and to transfer project risk to a private partner. Despite the advantages of PPPs, challenges remain in their implementation. One of the challenges for revenue-funded infrastructure projects, such as toll roads, is demand or revenue risk - the possibility that a project’s generated funds are insufficient to service the project’s operation and maintenance costs, debt, and the adequate rate of return for investors.

by Kate Gasparro

Thursday, February 4, 2016
Many of you have probably seen campaign announcements on social media sites such as “Help Send me to College”, “Let’s Create a Foldable Kayak” or “Donate for a Better App” and clicked through the links to give financially to a cause. Such support by an expanding number of citizens has helped grow a blooming industry known as crowdfunding, that within the last few years, has started to showcase projects that provide public goods to communities.

by Julie Kim

Thursday, September 24, 2015
Urbanization cannot happen in a vacuum. Cities need to provide basic infrastructure services—clean water, sewage, roads, electricity, telecommunications, to name a few—to support the basic livelihood of their citizens and businesses. At $57 trillion in total and almost 5 percent of Gross World Product every year from now until 2030, infrastructure funding needs are daunting.

by Julie Kim and John Ryan

Wednesday, September 9, 2015
Managing volatility is the private sector's comparative advantage. Making it the main selling point of P3s should make them a popular choice among public authorities, say Stanford's Julie Kim and Greengate's John Ryan.

by Jill Eicher

Monday, July 20, 2015
By working directly with state and local governments to structure infrastructure projects, U.S. public pensions could open the most coveted infrastructure market in the world to the global community of institutional investors.