Sunday, October 14, 2007

World Bank and IMF Prepare for Their 2007 Annual Meetings

Sources: New Management to Set Tone As World Bank, IMF Meet; New IMF, World Bank heads face reform challenge; The World Bank is back, says Zoellick’s deputy

The 2007 Annual Meetings for the World Bank and the IMF will be held in Washington, D.C. from October 20-22. In their preparations for the Meetings, both the Bank and the IMF have emphasized their relevance to the well-being of the international economy, despite the growing independence of their member countries created in part by a backlash towards the work of these institutions. For instance, many shareholders of the IMF have sought to strengthen their own financial reserves to prevent future acceptance of financial-crisis bailouts from the IMF.

Commentators have noted that the IMF will have a more difficult job than the Bank in proving its relevance to its shareholders. For its part, the IMF has proposed a redistribution of votes amongst its member countries such that developing countries will gain more at the expense of its developed counterparts. While a discussion on the voting power of member states is one of the key items on the IMF’s agenda, no one expects the IMF to make groundbreaking decisions at the Meetings. Part of the reason lies in the fact that the Meetings will be chaired by Rodrigo de Rato, the outgoing Managing Director. The newly elected Managing Director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, has not disclosed any concrete plans for the IMF, and will be in Paris until he takes office on November 1.

The World Bank has been more successful in promoting its relevancy in preparation for the Meetings. On the 100-day anniversary of his role as the Bank’s president, Robert Zoellick stressed the significance of cooperating with member countries and other development organizations in achieving the Bank’s goals in international development. Together with Ana Palacio, the Bank’s senior vice-president and general counsel, Zoellick stated that the Bank has the potential to play a unique role in jump-starting markets, in addition to pursuing rigorous anti-corruption policies both within the Bank and in its development efforts.


Would an increase in activity by the Bank and the IMF necessarily help developing countries?

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