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The IMF and the World Bank: New Bretton Woods

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  1. Introduction
  2. Overview of the European Central Bank
  3. Overview of the US Federal Reserve
  4. Monetary policies implemented by both organizations
  5. Conclusion

"Today, globalization does not work. It does not work for the poor of the world. It does not work for the environment. It does not work for the stability of the global economy. For some, the solution is simple: abandon globalization. This is neither possible nor desirable. The problem is not globalization. It is the way it was handled; especially by international economic institutions, the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO" (Joseph Stiglitz, Globalization and Its Discontents).

We leave aside here the WTO to focus only on the Bretton Woods institutions. The creation of these two institutions responds to a need for the regulation of an international financial and monetary system, which appeared at the end of the Second World War. The economic crisis of 1929 had indeed resulted in a profound reversal in the development of international trade, with States seeking refuge in protectionism and isolationism. Detrimental to global growth, this was also one of the causes that led to the Second World War.

Therefore, from 1944 (and even before the onset of the UN system), the Bretton Woods institutions were signed, which created two international financial institutions (IFIs): The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and International Bank of Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). The first is responsible for granting international credits in the short term to allow States to maintain the parity of their currency (the exchange rate system introduced by BW as a system of fixed exchange rates), and the second supports long-term loans to finance projects of reconstruction and development. Its action is structural and is done in coordination with regional development banks. Both institutions have established and maintained a role for an economic and financial environment conducive to the development of trade and economic cooperation.
IMF (International Monetary Fund)

? Instrument economic cooperation. The IMF has two main tasks: prevention of crises (monitoring, promotion of international standards) and crisis resolution. The latter role is the one that is subject to a majority of critics. The IMF has been described as a "pyromaniac firefighter."
? IMF conditionality is particularly based on Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs): open markets reduce the budget deficit that the recipients of the loans are committed to implement. These commitments are not contractual obligations.
? The Crises of the 1990s led to a questioning of the Washington Consensus (the idea that the rapid liberalization of the economy promotes economic growth). The developing countries have now an auto trade and economic avoid recourse to the IMF.
? As a part of the current financial crisis, the IMF needs much more money and resources and must increase beyond developed countries. Gordon Brown proposes a reassessment of the share of oil-producing countries.

Tags: International economic institutions,
globalization, global economy, Second World War, International Monetary Fund, trade and economic cooperation, economic cooperation.

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