Thursday, May 28, 2009

New Investments to the IMF

The IMF has been busy helping countries respond to the economic crisis through financing. Lending commitments are at a record $157 billion. One of the changes, though, has been an easing of the loan conditions that often went along with IMF aid. The IMF has often encouraged political policy changes in exchange for money. Is this a good thing? The tension here is that the countries need the loan money without delay. The IMF is wise to respond quickly to the crisis. That does not mean that the IMF and the borrowing countries, though, are not missing "opportunties" to promote better business and other practices that enhance competitiveness in the longer term. In the end, the borowing countries may still need changes in local laws and governmental frameworks to be competitive. Perhaps now, though, is not the best time to impose such changes given the instability in the borrowing countries already.

Moreover, the IMF's focus may be changing due to the financial crisis with more efforts toward the donor countries. Not only do the larger countries have to keep markets active with developing countries, but they must support the IMF's loan efforts. There does seem to be some action in that respect. Russia, for instance, just announced a new $10 billion commitment to the IMF. Brazil, China (up to $40 billion) and India are also making new investments in the IMF. The additional investments may lead to these countries having a greater say in the business of the IMF and global monetary policy generally. Of course, new commitments are necessary in order for the IMF to continue the financial arrangements with the borrowing countries. The U.S. Senate recently rejected a proposal to eliminate a $180 billion in loan commitments to the IMF. The funding is still pending, though, but has the backing of the White House.


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