When US financial powerhouse Lehman Brothers collapsed last fall, the world saw the start of an unprecedented collapse in global stock markets, bringing with it the loss of billions of dollars of investment around the world and severely shaking the foundations of the international banking system. Gloomy economic forecasts, a loss of investor confidence, and mass capital flight have all contributed to the worsening of the current global financial crisis. A decade ago, a similar situation unfolded in East Asia when market speculation sparked investors to pull out billions of dollars of capital, inflating debt and destabilizing markets in the region. In response, the Chiang Mai Initiative emerged in an effort to protect Asian markets from future crises. But has it stood up to today’s global economic collapse? And is an Asian Monetary Fund on the horizon? This brief explores these, and other, issues.
Europe looking to lead on response to financial crisis
A warning against US (and Canadian?) opposition to a new international architecture of institutions and tighter regulations to manage a more “moral” form of global capitalism, a flexible Economic Council within the United Nations, and an economic sustainability charter that establishes the rules for global financial governance, were three of the key themes raised by German Chancellor Angela Merckel and French President Sarkozy at a high-level symposium hosted by Sarkozy and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in Paris this month.
What is the Bank of the South?
On December 9th, 2007, representatives from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela met in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to launch “el Banco del Sur” or the Bank of the South (BoS). With the creation of the Bank, the leaders of Latin America envisaged a new development institution to help promote growth and tackle poverty. The BoS was originally proposed in 2006 by Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. Chavez, along with other South American leaders, wanted a Bank that would allow them to assert their political and financial independence from traditional international financial institutions (IFIs), like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, and put an end to decades of structural adjustment policies imposed by the IFIs on countries in Latin America.
IMF back in business, but still politically bankrupt
Even before US President George Bush announced plans for next month’s G-20 Summit on the financial crisis (see “Just the Facts”), International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Strauss Khan has been pushing for the IMF to be front and center in addressing the crisis. In a complete about-face from one year ago, Strauss Khan now sees the IMF not just fighting fires through new flexible emergency loan arrangements to address food, fuel and finance crises, but as a “global regulatory coordinator” or world central bank.
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The Hon. David Emerson
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, ON K1A OG2
October 10, 2008
Re.: Canadian priorities leading up to the Doha Financing for Development Review.
Dear Minister Emerson:
16 MAY 2008
Canadian Government Reports on IFI Activity Get Good Grade
The Canadian government’s annual reporting on its activities at international financial institutions is getting better, according to the authors, and to a Canadian civil society group which recently gave the latest report its best grade ever.
The Halifax Initiative said the report on 2007 activities merited a B+, up from last year’s rating of B-, and way up from the D grades of 2001-2005.
February 29, 2008
The Honorable Ban Ki-Moon
New York, NY
Dear Secretary General:
At the end of this year, governments of the world will meet in Doha, Qatar to evaluate progress in implementing the Monterrey Consensus. One of the critical elements of this consensus is the issue of external debt and its role in financing for development.
Corruption back on the Bank’s agenda?
Evidence of serious fraud and corruption has emerged in five Bank-funded health projects in Orissa, India. The $570 million for malaria, tuberculosis and HIV-AIDS control was implemented from 1997 to 2003. The charges emerged from a Detailed Implementation Review (DIR) of projects in India begun in 2006, a process itself triggered by evidence of corrupt practices by two pharmaceutical companies involved in another Bank health scheme. The Indian government has pledged to take “exemplary punishment” of the parties involved.
The Halifax Initiative would like to thank John Foster, North-South Institute, for his help in developing these FAQs
Revised November 2007