Bretton Woods Institutions
A Call to Action
A Citizen's Agenda for Reform of the Global Economic System
I. INTRODUCTION: Open the Debate
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.
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.
The World Bank
Washington, D.C. 20433
Edith Grace Ssempala
Acting Senior Vice President External Affairs
October 26, 2008
Thank you for your letter regarding voice and participation of developing and transition countries in the governance of the World Bank Group. Mr. Zoellick asked me to respond, and I am therefore requesting that the Bretton Woods Project transmit this to all those who signed the letter.
On May 29, Bill C-293 or the “better aid bill”, received royal assent. This now legally requires Canadian official development assistance (ODA) to contribute to poverty reduction, take into account the perspectives of the poor, and be consistent with international human rights standards. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and Foreign Affairs Canada (FAC), among others, are in the process of developing plans on how to implement the Bill in practice. These comments are intended to help CIDA and FAC in their interpretation of the Bill for the various international financial institutions for which they are the lead agencies.
On May 29, Bill C-293 or the “better aid bill”, received royal assent, now legally requiring Canadian official development assistance (ODA) to contribute to poverty reduction, take into account the perspectives of the poor, and be consistent with international human rights standards. Finance Canada, among others, is in the process of developing plans on how to implement the Bill in practice. These comments are intended to help Finance Canada in its interpretation of the Bill for the various international financial institutions (IFIs) for which it is the lead agency.
NGOs applaud adoption of “better aid bill”
Two and a half years after it was first introduced, and after a tense year sitting in the Senate for its final reading, Bill C-293 or the “better aid bill” was finally unanimously approved in Parliament on May 9 to loud NGO approval. It received royal assent yesterday, May 29, which now makes it law.