Opinion

The Great Debate

Reform the IMF and World Bank

Johannes Linn- Johannes Linn is a Senior Fellow and the Executive Director of the Wolfensohn Center for Development at the Brookings Institution. The views expressed are his own. —

One of the tasks for the G20 Summit in London is the reform of the IMF and the World Bank, key global institutions to help address the current crisis and to prevent the occurrence of future crises. Reform of the IMF is more urgent both in the short and medium term while reform of the World Bank, although equally important, is less pressing.

The G20 faces a few immediate priorities related to the IMF:  First, G20 leaders should agree to triple IMF resources from the current level of $250 billion to $750 billion to help meet the financing needs of developing countries. This is critical because the World Bank has estimated that these countries may face a shortfall of up to $700 billion in 2009 alone.  Second, G20 leaders should request that the IMF monitor and report transparently on the commitments and implementation of G20 national stimulus plans and efforts to repair their banking sectors. Third, G20 leaders should commit to a far-reaching reform of the IMF by 2010.

While this third step may seem like a lesser priority for leaders as they face a global recession, reform of the IMF must be accomplished in order to restore the legitimacy and effectiveness of the institution.  Reform would introduce the merit-based selection of the head of the IMF, irrespective of nationality, eliminate the veto of the U.S. in key decisions and would broaden the application of double-majority voting as a way to increase the role of smaller members. It would also substantially revise the rule of quota and vote distribution to reflect accurately and fairly the current and future economic weight of the members.

Reform would also transform the current IMF’s Board of Directors from a bureaucratic body to a high-level policy decision-making forum of ministers.  Many of these measures were proposed by a committee chaired by Trevor Manuel, Minister of Finance of South Africa, which comprised a distinguished cast of international experts. The G20 should endorse those recommendations in full.

G20 should be pragmatic about protectionism

Paul Blustein– Paul Blustein is a journalist-in-residence at the Brookings Institution. He is writing a book on the World Trade Organization, which will be published in September. The views expressed are his own. —

Telling young people to abstain from sex is “not realistic at all” — new mother Bristol Palin, 18.

The wisdom of Ms. Palin should be borne in mind by the leaders of the Group of 20 nations at their April 2 summit when they turn to trade.

World stuck with the dollar, more’s the pity

jimsaftcolumn5– James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

The dollar is, and will remain, the U.S.’s currency and its own and everyone else’s problem.

The idea of creating a global currency, as espoused by China earlier this week, is interesting, has a certain amount of merit and is simply not going to happen any time soon.

A new direction in global financial regulation

John Kemp Great Debate– John Kemp is a Reuters columnist.  The views expressed are his own –

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s call today for a new G20 charter of principles on financial regulation  reflects an emerging consensus among policymakers that, once the immediate crisis has passed, the regulatory framework must be fundamentally redesigned.

In particular, policymakers are concerned with how to correct the basic moral hazard problem in which bankers have an incentive to extend too much credit, while private firms and households have an incentive to take on too much debt.

G20 summit shows lack of resolve

John Kemp Great Debate–John Kemp is a Reuters columnist.  The opinions expressed are his own–

The G20 summit must be considered a disappointing failure, even by the relatively low expectations set for the event. Leaders produced a long agenda of further studies, reports and work, but failed to provide a clear direction or tackle even the most fundamental decisions.

On the key issues, leaders displayed a worrying irresolution. Without unambiguous instructions from the top, discussions between finance ministers and officials will prove protracted and risk getting bogged down in detail. Negotiations between officials can fill in the details; they cannot make the kind of fundamental choices about strategic direction that leaders avoided at the weekend.

Can the G20 do “big” outcomes?

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George Magnus is Senior Economic Adviser, UBS Investment Bank, and author of “The Age of Aging: How Demographics Are Changing The Global Economy And Our World”. Any opinions expressed are his own.

The election of Barack Obama as president of the United States has unleashed a welcome torrent of optimism during hard times. Aside from an especially demanding domestic policy agenda, the new president will also have his work cut out to rebuild the authority of and respect for U.S. leadership in the global community.

The G20 meeting in Washington on November 14-15, billed as the forum for rebuilding the world’s financial architecture, could not be happening at a more important time. We should be under no illusion, however, that results will occur in a week, despite the expectations. Anyway, the G20 has the more pressing issue of countering global financial instability and the global recession.

Debate surrounding the world economic crisis

World leaders vowed to work together in overhauling the global financial system as they headed to Washington for a summit on wresting the global economy from recession and avoiding future meltdowns.

Far from the confines of Washington, Reuters readers launched into a lively debate, sparked by Reuters columnists and experts, on what this means for the global financial crisis.

One of the more lively discussions arose from a column theorizing the financial crisis is the greatest threat to international security. Paul Rogers, Professor of Peace Studies at Bradford University and Global Security Consultant to Oxford Research Group argues:

The U.S. won’t stomach a new Bretton Woods

diana-furchtgott-roth1 — Diana Furchtgott-Roth,former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor, is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. The opinions expressed are her own. —

Leaders of the Group of 20 countries meeting in Washington on Nov. 15 are hoping that America’s role in the global financial crisis will shame President George W. Bush, or maybe President-elect Barack Obama, into supporting greater international financial regulation, diminishing America’s role in international financial institutions.

But America is unlikely to give up control over its financial sector, certainly not under Bush, and probably not even under the internationally-popular Obama.

Financial crisis is greatest threat to international security

Paul Rogers is Professor of Peace Studies at Bradford University and Global Security Consultant to Oxford Research Group. Any views expressed are his own.

Paul Rogers

Unless global responses are made to the current economic crisis, the biggest threat to international security will be the impoverishment of hundreds of millions of people, leading to radical and violent social movements that will be met with force, resulting in still greater conflict.

Oxford Research Group’s 2008 International Security Report, The Tipping Point?, published on 13 November, points to some improvements in security in Iraq in the past year as well as the potential for major changes in US policy in South West Asia with an incoming Obama administration.  It also finds that the recent deterioration in East West relations after the Russian intervention in Georgia in August can be reversed, but its main conclusion is that it is the global financial crisis that is now the most dangerous threat to international security.

The world’s expanding top table

– Paul Taylor is a Reuters columnist, the views expressed are his own –

LONDON (Reuters) – Move over America! Make space Europe! The world’s top leadership table is expanding to bring in emerging powers from Asia, Africa and Latin America to help rescue the global economy.

This week’s Washington summit of 20 nations, called to discuss reforming the international financial system and avert a further worsening of the credit crisis that began in the United States, sets a precedent for a new international order.

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