International Economic Institutions

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Waiting for leadership to change organically — that is, leaving it up to developing countries to work together to get their voices heard — simply will not bring about the governance reforms that are needed. To be sure, if developing countries can all get behind a single candidate, it is possible that the next IMF managing director will be a non-European. But that landmark would be achieved nearly a quarter-century after the Asian financial crisis — far later than it should have. Simply put, the onus should not be on developing countries to fight for the influence they have already earned.

Such resistance seems set only to intensify, at least in the US. Trump has expressed clearly his distaste for international structures — from NATO to the Paris climate agreement to the G20 — which he claims advance the interests of others over those of the US. He has also made explicit his belief that the US should no longer bankroll the provision of global public goods, from defence to financial stability. Add to that the deafening silence from the largest European countries on the issue, and it is possible that emerging economies, particularly China, will give up on advocating reform from within the Bretton Woods system.


While emerging economies have made it clear that the existing system can remain relevant, if all stakeholders commit to making the necessary changes, a credible plan to do so has yet to emerge. The IMF retains its role in providing an extensive financial safety net for the global economy. But regional facilities have been created to provide a cooperative mechanism for dealing with occasional liquidity crunches. The facility can be expanded if necessary, provided that members are prepared to assume the risk. To succeed, the group will need to reconcile the views of the countries that form the bulk of the membership of the Bretton Woods institutions and devise a concrete plan for rebalancing.

Just as the Bretton Woods institutions resulted from years of debate about how to shape a new model of international economic cooperation, the reform of these institutions must reflect a process of careful deliberation. To be sure, since the financial crisis, there has been much debate about globalization, governance, international cooperation, and the tension between open markets and domestic politics. Well-rehearsed discussions of issues like financial surveillance, coordination, moral hazard, international lenders of last resort, a debt-resolution regime, and sustainability in development finance will surely inform the work of the eminent persons group.

But discussion does not imply consensus, and I am not convinced that agreement on any of these topics is strong enough to produce concrete policy action. Moreover, the US has long been a leader and crisis manager within the international institutional framework.

Edited by Sarah A. Binder, R. A. W. Rhodes, and Bert A. Rockman

In particular, Trump may decide that, rather than fully delegating leadership responsibilities to the institutions themselves, the US should intervene on an ad hoc basis, potentially within bilateral frameworks, whenever he believes that an important national interest is at stake. In this uncertain context, the best way forward may be not to assume that a partial US withdrawal from the Bretton Woods system would spell disaster, and instead to consider how the US stance may open the way for change.

It will not be easy, particularly if Trump decides that the US should start making its own rules. But if the other main players cooperate, there is a chance that the Bretton Woods system can survive changing economic dynamics. Time is not on our side; indeed, a year is probably not a long enough time to deal with the disruption that a reluctant hegemon may create.

Paola Subacchi. This article is published in collaboration with Project Syndicate.

International Economic Institutions

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum. I accept. Global Agenda Future of Economic Progress Global Governance Why changes need to be made to the international economic order Deep reforms are needed in order for economic institutions to be legitimate, effective, and accountable. How do we build a sustainableworld? Submit a video. Most Popular. The parallels are interesting and instructive: if cronies can be assured of access to bank credit, their budget constraints are "soft," just as are those of state-owned enterprises when their losses are automatically covered from the government's budget.

And, for the same reason, each type of enterprise is likely to realize lower rates of return on investments than when there is a "hard" budget constraint. Likewise, for state enterprises politicians normally select managers whose talents and skills lie elsewhere. Cronies are equally likely to not be the most qualified and trained managers. In each instance, there is likely to be a lack of competition or an unfair playing field that further reduces pressures for economically efficient production.

In both instances, import barriers are likely to be used to assist domestic firms. In the case of crony capitalism, access to credit on favorable terms and other government favors can insulate enterprises from competitive pressures.

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  • I am currently estimating real rates of return on investments in the various financial-crisis countries; preliminary data indicate that real rates of return fell dramatically for several decades as the relative importance of the crony-run enterprises increased. The final area of research in which I have been involved in recent years is U. The United States is so important in the world economy that its policies affect the functioning of the international economic system with at least as much force as does the WTO and other international economic organizations.

    Many aspects of U. While these practices clearly hurt U. Particularly worrisome are American practices with respect to antidumping and countervailing duties: the law and the procedures followed in these cases bear little resemblance to the economist's case against predatory pricing.

    International Economic Institutions - Oxford Handbooks

    All of these issues arise in connection with relations between East Asian countries and the United States. Each year a conference has been held on a subject relating to mutual interdependence. Authors have then revised their papers based on discussion at the conference, and we have produced a volume published for the NBER by the University of Chicago.

    International Economic Institutions (BSE)

    The five cosponsors have rotated being the local host, while the NBER has maintained a lead role in supporting the logistics of the conference and in preparing the results for publication. The subject of the conference in Osaka was the microeconomic aspects of direct foreign investment. That volume is in press. The subject of the conference, hosted by the NBER in Hawaii, was macroeconomic aspects of direct foreign investment.

    The conference, to be held in Seoul, will have trade in services as its theme.

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    Each seminar has proved highly stimulating in illuminating the many similarities that arise across the economies of East Asia and the United States. Researchers from the participating countries also benefit from the additional insights they achieve when contrasting the circumstances in their own countries with those of others.

    Krueger, ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, See A.

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    Ranis, S. Hu, and Y. Chu, eds. Cheltenham, U. Saxonhouse and T. Srinivasan, eds. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, Krueger and A.

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    A strong case can be made that it was the failure of the Japanese government to address the problem of nonperforming loans in the banking system early in the s that led to a significant barrier to resumption of economic growth. Economic Policy Reforms That takes me immediately to my second set of issues of concern: the choice of exchange rate regime and its relationship to economic growth and the avoidance of crisis.